Wednesday, February 17, 2010

James Paice MP on libel reform

I just received this email from Mr Paice, my MP (and generally one of the good guys):

Dear Mr Risdon,
Thank you for writing to me about EDM 423 and libel law reform. I should explain that Early Day Motions are for backbench MPs and therefore as a Member of the Opposition Frontbench, I am usually unable to sign an EDM regardless of my views, unless it has been officially tabled by the Opposition.
I understand your concerns on this issue. It is important that those who contribute so much to research and culture in this country do not feel restricted from publishing intellectually challenging and informative articles. Fear of libel action should not curb debate by scientists, academics and journalists. Freedom of expression is the hallmark of a free society, and must be strongly protected.
If libel cases do succeed, the costs are often so crippling to defendants that even large newspapers are in difficulty in resisting some claims. It is evident that Britain has become an attractive place for individuals to bring about speculative libel action since lawyers will often bear the brunt of the costs in exchange for the potential awards available to winning litigants.
You may be aware that the Secretary of State for Justice, the Rt. Hon. Jack Straw MP, has recently announced that the Government is currently drawing up plans to alter libel law. Let me assure you that my colleagues on the Shadow Justice Team will continue to press the Government on this issue, to ensure that any changes to the law adequately protect individuals without placing too great a burden on, for example, scientists, academics and journalists.
Thank you for taking the time to write to me.
Yours sincerely,

James Paice, MP
Promising, I'd say.

1 comment:

Brian, follower of Deornoth said...

"the Government is currently drawing up plans to alter libel law"

Doesn't sound very promising to me. Has this Government ever 'reformed' anything without making it much, much worse?