Sense about Science ? equipping people to make sense of science and evidence
Keep libel laws out of science
Sense About Science launched the Keep Libel Laws out of Science campaign in June 2009, calling for reform of the libel laws to protect open scientific discussion.
We encourage scientists to enter public debates on science and we support open discussion about scientific research so when we became aware that our libel laws were chilling scientific discussion, we knew we had to act. We objected to several high profile cases brought against scientists and were inundated with correspondence from hundreds of scientific researchers, patient groups, writers and publishers around the world about libel threats being used to silence scientific debate.
Our timeline of events shows Sense About Science’s story since June 2009 to our work today as part of the Libel Reform Campaign with writers' organisation English PEN and free-speech organisation Index on Censorship. The groundswell of support for the campaign led to the libel laws in England & Wales being reformed. The Defamation Act 2013 received Royal Assent on 25th April 2013 and came into force on 1st January 2014.
However, the Libel Reform Campaign continues. Very few of the new provisions have been extended to Scotland, and none in Northern Ireland. This has left British citizens in those nations with fewer free speech protections than their neighbours in England & Wales. Worse, since most publishers operate throughout the UK, the jurisdictions with unreformed law could to chill free speech everywhere in the United Kingdom, and the Defamation Act 2013 could be undermined.
We are working with medical and scientific groups and our supporters to ensure that changes made to the laws are substantial and meaningful. Add your voice, follow progress and get involved at www.libelreform.org