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    Monday, 30 November 2009

    Momentum for libel reform? or electoral politics?

    Following on from the English PEN / Index on Censorship report on libel reform (and see also the critique offered by science lobby group Sense About Science), Jack Straw (the Justice Secretary) indicated last weekend that he is minded to proceed with "wholesale reform of England’s libel laws".

    Meanwhile Lord Lester of Herne Hill, the Lib Dem peer and eminent human rights lawyer, has promised a libel reform bill to introduce significant changes in the spring.

    The airwaves have carried a fair amount on this theme in recent days. Sense About Science outlined the problems as they see them on the Today programme last week (see here - for now - at 0737). Interestingly, this was followed on the same programme by an interview with Dominic Grieve, the Conservative Party Shadow Justice Secretary (see here at 0848). He was more sceptical of the need for libel reform, offering a lonely voice on the importance of remembering the harms to privacy and reputation wrought by (some) newspapers. Lord Lester offered a (not particularly compelling because overly time-limited) introduction to his line of thinking on the PM programme latter that day (see here). The issues were also aired on the Media Show earlier last month (see here).


    Andrew Scott said...

    Index on Censorship is reporting that Jack Straw is to establish a working group to examine libel laws, and that the Government will respond to the Index/English PEN report alongside that of the Culture Media and Sport Ctte within two months of the publication of the latter.

    Anonymous said...

    This announcement was made during a Government Whip's response to a question put by Lord Pannick in the House of Lords yesterday afternoon. See also this in the Guardian.

    In addition, the libel issue was discussed by Lord Lester and Paul Tweed of Johnsons on the Media Show on Radio 4 today.

    Anonymous said...

    Guardian piece