Writing underneath Marcel Berlin’s Guardian commentary on Jack Straw’s pledge of support for libel reform, Liberal Democrat MP Evan Harris suggests that the main “missing ingredient” is a commitment to limit big companies suing in libel:
…They should only have malicious falsehood where they must prove malice or recklessness and show actual damage. Trafigura, Tesco, Barclays, BCA, NMT, Nemsysco, etc, etc. The Lib Dems are proposing this in addition to the other measures and not tentatively!
Berlins had argued that Straw’s backing of the case for libel reform was not strong enough, especially on who should have the burden of proof.
[T]here’s no word from Straw – not even “consider” – about one of the most unjust aspects of the existing law, which obliges a newspaper raising the defence that its allegations were true to prove it, instead of making the claimant prove their falsity. That burden of proof, in fairness, should be reversed.
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