A win

Good news about libel reform, at least. It’s been agreed by Parliament and once the queen says ok it will become the Defamation Act 2013.

The Libel Reform Campaign has comments from a lot of relevant people.

Tracey Brown, Director, Sense About Science said: “A campaign of small organisations, thousands of individuals and good parliamentarians has achieved changes that were denied to citizens  and publishers for a century. We didn’t have resources but we had the weight of mounting injustice and the pressure from citizens to talk freely about their society, evidence, culture and the behaviour of powerful people within it. There are many compromises in the Defamation Act. But restrictions on trivial claims, a stronger defence of fair comment, and a new public interest defence will help writers everywhere to decide what to publish based on ‘is it true?’ rather than ‘will they sue?’”

Jo Glanville, Director, English PEN said: “This  has been a remarkable campaign that has united politicians and   campaigners to reform a law that had become an international embarrassment. The chill has had an impact on anyone speaking out in the public interest – from scientists to bloggers – so this is good news for freedom of speech in the UK. However, as we heard in Parliament today, there is still unfinished business regarding internet regulation and procedure that will be critical for delivering a fairer and more accessible law.”

Dr Evan Harris, Libel Reform Campaign parliamentary adviser said: “As someone involved [in] the campaign from the start, and from inside and outside Parliament, I can see what an achievement it is to achieve this reform. Although not perfect or complete, it is a major step forward, although much will depend on the new proposed court rules and  procedures which are awaited”.

Simon Singh, science writer and defendant in BCA v Singh said: “This is an extraordinary story of cross party collaboration, fired up by a grass roots campaign, backed by everyone from nerds to Mumsnet, which includes mums who are also nerds. Four years ago, libel reform was not an issue that anybody cared about, but I have witnessed first hand how charities, bloggers, MPs, Lords and a multitude of others pushed this issue up the agenda, into manifestos, into the Queen’s Speech and now, at last, we have a Defamation Bill that will change the landscape of free speech in Britain.”

Well done all.


  1. StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return! says

    Great news. Thanks Ophelia Benson 0-and everyone else who has helped make this happen.

  2. says

    Here’s hoping this is the beginning of the end of libel tourism. Not to mention the rather scary pushes on the left to export that illiberal schlock over to the United States.

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