Libel concerns prevent book from publication

Written by Robert Sharp
April 23, 2014
Category: England & Wales

Earlier this month, the Economist published a correspondence between author Karen Dawisha and John Haslam, Executive Publisher, Political Science and Sociology, Cambridge University Press. In the exchange, Mr Haslam cited libel concerns as the reason why CUP could not publish Ms Dawisha's new book exposing corruption at the highest levels of Russian politics.

The Libel Reform Campaign is disappointed that CUP has taken this decision. The Defamation Act 2013 has introduced new protections for publishers. In particular, the public interest defence at s.4 of the Act offers a defence in libel when the publisher believed that the matter was in the public interest. The legislation should give publishers new confidence and reduce the occurrence of self-censorship.

We appreciate the financial considerations inherent in a decision of this nature. However, we are concerned that the CUP has felt unable to rely on the new defences in this case. Until a major publisher confronts the industry's long held fears of libel litigation, the chill will remain, and writing on international corruption will indeed become, in the words of Karen Dawisha, a 'no fly zone'.