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Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee report on Press Standards, Privacy and Libel

The Libel Reform Campaign led by English PEN, Index on Censorship and Sense About Science have welcomed the report by a group of influential MPs on the Culture, Media and Sport select committee as ‘a great starting point to ensure a once in a generation overhaul of our libel laws.’

The Select Committee report makes strong recommendations on curbing libel tourism, strengthening the public interest defence, cutting the cost of libel cases by holding down lawyers per hour charges, and recognising the resources that corporations can use to bully charities, writers and scientists by reversing the burden of proof in cases involving corporations.

Read the full report

Tracey Brown, Managing Director of Sense About Science said:

“We welcome the committee’s recognition of the harmful effects of UK libel laws on the science and medical community. The proposal for a clear public interest defence is an important step toward the far reaching reform that is needed.”

Jonathan Heawood, Director of English PEN said:

“206 MPs have signed Parliamentary Early Day Motion 423 calling for libel reform. The Select Committee report by John Whittingdale MP will add to the rising chorus of voices within Westminster calling for reform of our outdated libel laws that benefit no-one except 400 pound an hour lawyers.”

Jo Glanville, the Editor of Index on Censorship said:

“We’re concerned that ghettoising fair comment in peer reviewed journals would not have helped Simon Singh in his libel case whatsoever, it’s important that a fair comment defence is available to everyone, not just for academic discussion out of the reach of ordinary people.”