Sunday, 22 November 2009

Some more on Libel and Defamation.

I have previously written about Simon Singh in my blog
Gagged by libel laws and the ease with which journalists(and bloggers) can be sued for libel in British courts. This threat has now arrived in the Welsh Blogosphere following Cambria Politico having to withdraw the blog posting for calling Huw Lewis AM, Screwloose (this blog has now been republished). The blog was withdrawn following a letter of complaint from Matt Greenhough, a member of Huw Lewis's staff, threatening all sorts, including legal action. The Syniadau blog has not taken too kindly to the tone of Matt Greenhough's letter and has 'gone off on one' with a lengthy critique of the letter.

It is therefore welcome news that the Justice Minister Jack Straw has finally been convinced of the need for wholesale reform of libel laws in England and Wales. The Sunday Times reported that,
"...the large legal fees involved in defamation cases in English Courts are jeopardising freedom of speech."
A report by lobbying groups and charities have made several recommendations to the Justice Secretary:
1. Capping libel damages at £10,000.
2. Making an apology the chief remedy.
3. Placing the burden of proof onto claimants to show damage.
4. Preventing cases being heard in London unless at least 10% of the offending publication's circulation is in the UK.

A long overdue change and the sooner the libel legislation is passed the better.

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