Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Another push for the Libel Reform campaign

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The Libel Reform campaign, which published its report Free Speech Is Not For Sale a year ago, is encouraging bloggers to help with a fresh push to add names to the petition for reform, which currently has 53,000 signatures. It's been a successful year for the campaign, with Britain's illiberal libel laws gaining more prominence in the national debate and all three parties committing to reform during the election campaign earlier in the year. The coalition government now plans to announce a Draft Defamation bill in the New Year, and renewed pressure from the Libel Reform campaign could help ensure that the bill goes far enough.

Science writer and libel survivor Simon Singh is spearheading the campaign, and he's asking bloggers to help spread the word and drive the petition forward. Here's a message from him:
The Mass Libel Reform Blog – Fight for Free Speech!

This week is the first anniversary of the report Free Speech is Not for Sale, which highlighted the oppressive nature of English libel law. In short, the law is extremely hostile to writers, while being unreasonably friendly towards powerful corporations and individuals who want to silence critics.

The English libel law is particularly dangerous for bloggers, who are generally not backed by publishers, and who can end up being sued in London regardless of where the blog was posted. The internet allows bloggers to reach a global audience, but it also allows the High Court in London to have a global reach.

You can read more about the peculiar and grossly unfair nature of English libel law at the website of the Libel Reform Campaign. You will see that the campaign is not calling for the removal of libel law, but for a libel law that is fair and which would allow writers a reasonable opportunity to express their opinion and then defend it.
The good news is that the British Government has made a commitment to draft a bill that will reform libel, but it is essential that bloggers and their readers send a strong signal to politicians so that they follow through on this promise. You can do this by joining me and over 50,000 others who have signed the libel reform petition.

Remember, you can sign the petition whatever your nationality and wherever you live. Indeed, signatories from overseas remind British politicians that the English libel law is out of step with the rest of the free world.
If you have already signed the petition, then please encourage friends, family and colleagues to sign up. Moreover, if you have your own blog, you can join hundreds of other bloggers by posting this blog on your own site. There is a real chance that bloggers could help change the most censorious libel law in the democratic world.
We must speak out to defend free speech. Please sign the petition for libel reform.
Simon Singh
So there you have it – do join in and spread the word, and add your name to the petition if you haven't already.
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