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'The Ugly Truth'

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Mass Parliamentary lobby for libel law reform

Tuesday 23rd March

Hundreds of advocates for libel law reform came to Parliament for the mass lobby today to hear what the three main political parties are doing for libel law reform and to meet their own MPs. The campaigners first heard from cross-party MPs including Justice Secretary Jack Straw who all committed to reform.

Straw told us the case for substantial reforms has been made and that the Government is now committed to responding to the level of public support for libel law reform. He said the meeting was one of the best attended he had seen in Parliament in many years and demonstrated a huge strength of feeling.

 Jack StrawMass lobby crowd

Shadow Justice Minister Henry Bellingham and Liberal Democrat Justice Spokesman David Howarth both spoke passionately on the need for libel law reform and encouraged the campaign to keep up the momentum. Dr Evan Harris MP chaired the meeting, Jonathan Heawood of English PEN; Tracey Brown, Sense About Science; Dr Fiona Godlee, Editor-in-Chief of the BMJ; Naomi McAuliffe, Amnesty International UK; Dr Simon Singh; John Whittingdale MP and Peter Bottemley MP welcomed the Justice Spokesmen’s commitments to reform and reiterated the need to keep the pressure on the Parties to fulfil their promises.

Jack Straw wrote up his libel reform proposals in the Guardian

Read the campaign’s response to his proposals


News articles on the mass lobby and libel reform:

The Daily Mail Straw hopes to defend free speech with libel law reform

Guardian Jack Straw unveils plan to curb libel tourism

The Times Leader article on Fair Comment and Labour's libel law reforms to include new ‘public interest’ defence for journalists

The IndependentJack Straw pledges libel law overhaul

Listen to BBC Radio 4’s Thought for the Day on the mass lobby and libel reform from Wednesday 24th

See photos from the mass lobby

The working group on libel law reform set up by Jack Straw in January released their report on Tuesday 24th March. Tracey Brown of Sense About Science participated in the group.