Tag Archives: peter wilmshurst

Comedy stars stage benefit gig for libel reform

Comedians, scientists and politicians will joins forces to stage a West End show aimed at speaking out against UK libel laws.

The Big Libel Gig will take place at London’s Palace Theatre on Sunday, 14 March 2010.

Hosting the gig will be comedian Robin Ince, co-creator of the event alongside science writer Simon Singh. As previously reported on Journalism.co.uk, Singh is currently facing libel charges brought by the British Chiropractic Association.

Singh has been granted leave to appeal Mr Justice Eady’s intial ruling, and the appeal will take place on 22 February.

In a press release about the event, Singh says: “Peter Wilmshurst, Ben Goldacre and I will talk about being sued for libel. Peter is being sued for raising concerns about a heart device. He faces bankruptcy by coming up against our draconian libel laws. We are all put at risk if doctors and scientists are scared to speak out because of English libel laws.”

The gig will conclude Libel Reform Week, which according to its organisers the Coalition for Libel Reform aims to “urge political parties to commit to major reforms before the election”.

The coalition – which will receive all funds raised by the Big Libel Gig – was established by the charities Index on Censorship, English PEN and Sense About Science.

The confirmed line-up includes Dara Ó Briain, Tim Minchin, Marcus Brigstocke, Robin Ince, Ed Byrne, Shappi Khorsandi and Professor Brian Cox.

Tickets are now on sale on Seetickets.com.

Mark Lewis: Libel law’s ‘killing effect’

Mark Lewis, the solicitor-advocate in Manchester who currently represents Dr Peter Wilmshurst (see background here),  has written an excellent piece on the need for libel reform, in the Solicitors’ Journal. “When the law is so bad that it leaves you speechless it needs changing,” he writes.

The law of defamation is expensive to pursue and even dearer to defend. The stress, time and financial cost of a libel case stop people speaking out. Libel law is simple currently: a rich claimant trumps a poor defendant. Newspapers worry about the ‘chilling effect’ of libel – investigative journalism is hampered as a result of lawyers for the press advising their clients to err on the side of caution.

At least it’s not a matter of life or death. Well, it is now. The chilling effect turned into the ‘killing effect’ when claimants realised that a well-drafted claim form is likely to have the effect of silencing an individual who attacks medical products or procedures.

Full story at this link…