UK libel laws are notoriously awful – they work to protect the rich and powerful and against the interests of the public at large. This is something that was mage very apparent during the case of BCA v Singh, in which Simon Singh was sued for pointing out the bogusness of a bogus treatment. Singh won a lot of support at the time over his stance and refusal to back down when faced with overwhelming money and out of this grew the Libel Reform Campaign.
I signed up to the campaign’s email newsletter and this brings me to the point of this post:
The Government is writing a new defamation bill and is due to publish it in the New Year. This will be the first time the libel laws have been substantively reviewed in a century. The libel reform campaign is being led by small organisations and it has been because of your wider support that we have got to this exciting stage. Your petition signatures have helped draw attention to the problem, your emails to politicians have helped raise awareness in Parliament, your donations have allowed us to host meetings and produce campaign material, your blogs and tweets have helped spread our message and your personal accounts of encounters with the libel laws have helped us build the case for libel reform.
We have to take this unique opportunity now to ensure that the reforms in the Government’s bill address the problems we have had to face and that the campaign has been hearing about from scientists, bloggers, journalists, human rights activists, biographers, novelists and many others. The libel reform campaign is exploring the potential of alternative dispute resolution, talking to bloggers about their experiences, surveying medical and science editors on the hidden costs of the libel laws and is running events at the three main party conferences to try to ensure the Government fulfils its pledges.
Can you donate £10 towards the costs of these at www.justgiving.com/libelreform? If 1,000 people can help us at this crucial stage, it will help engineer a truly effective libel reform bill, as opposed to one that might be watered down by vested interests. We know how unfair and damaging the laws are and we need your help to ensure no other scientist, writer, blogger or doctor goes through what we did.
(If you are a UK tax payer, please tick the Gift Aid box so the campaign can make the most of your donation. Thanks.)
UK libel laws are a mess, and a mess that has a globally detrimental effect. A tenner to help make them less of a mess is cheap in any money.