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The Government must bring the Defamation Bill back to the Commons

We need your urgent help this week to get the libel reform bill back to the House of Commons. There is the real risk that unless we act it will be dropped.

We have all worked hard to win the case for reform – to show the chilling effects of the current law on citizens, to secure commitment from the three main parties and to get a bill that ends bullying and protects the public interest. We did all of this and politicians rose above the fray to work together on it.

But it is now threatened. As you may have read over the past week, the bill has been used by a group of peers as a way of putting pressure on the Conservatives to implement the Leveson Report ‘by the back door’. The bill needs to go back before the Commons in the next two weeks, but the Government – which is split over Leveson - has not tabled it. It has to do so, because if the bill does not complete its passage before the parliamentary session ends in late April or early May it will be lost.

The Defamation Bill is a citizens’ bill. Tens of thousands of people and hundreds of organisations have engaged in bringing it about. It has been through three public consultations, two working groups and seven parliamentary debates. It has been a uniquely collaborative process with an impressively principled political response. The political controversy around Leveson should not threaten this. The Commons should be given the chance to remove the amendment if that is necessary and Leveson matters should be pursued in more suitable legislation.

The Government should put the bill back into the Commons now, so that the amendment can be removed, final tweaks made and the law changed.

The case for reform emerged from a series of revelations that libel threats are silencing scientists, doctors, biographers, community lawyers, consumer groups, human rights activists and many others all over the world, while current libel laws offer a poor, inaccessible system of redress. Every week that the bill does not progress, this situation continues.

Please write to your MPs, any other MPs you know, party leaders and anyone else in the House of Commons whom you think might be urged to press the Government.

You can send a message to your MP using www.writetothem.co.uk or use this form on the libel reform website.