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Bringing libel reform to Scotland

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The Defamation Act 2013 must be extended to Scotland. Can you join us in Edinburgh on Thursday 17th July at 5 pm?

As you know, the Libel Reform Campaign led to the Defamation Act 2013 which introduced significant changes to the law of libel in England & Wales. The law now includes a 'serious harm' test, a new public interest defence, protections for web hosts, privilege for peer reviewed academic papers. Together, these reforms should expand the space for free expression in England & Wales.

Unfortunately, very few of these new provisions have been incorporated into Scottish law. This has left the people of Scotland with fewer free speech protections than their neighbours in England & Wales. We fear that this will result in the practice of libel tourism shifting from London to Edinburgh.  Since publishers operate throughout the UK, an unreformed Scottish law has the potential to chill free speech everywhere in the United Kingdom, undermining the Defamation Act.  

We are bringing together lawyers, journalists, bloggers, academics, authors and members of civil society who would lke to be involved in a campaign to bring libel reform to Scotland. We want to gather examples of the libel 'chill' where journalists, consumer groups or scientists in Scotland have been discouraged from publishing on matters in the public interest. We would love to see as many of you as possible there.

It’s at the Saltire Society at 9 Fountain Close, 22 High Street, Edinburgh, EH1 1TF at 5.00 pm on Thursday 17th July. Please RVSP to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

The Defamation Act 2013 must be extended to Scotland. Can you join us in Edinburgh on Thursday 17th July at 5 pm?

As you know, the Libel Reform Campaign led to the Defamation Act 2013 which introduced significant changes to the law of libel in England & Wales. The law now includes a 'serious harm' test, a new public interest defence, protections for web hosts, privilege for peer reviewed academic papers. Together, these reforms should expand the space for free expression in England & Wales.

Unfortunately, very few of these new provisions have been incorporated into Scottish law. This has left the people of Scotland with fewer free speech protections than their neighbours in England & Wales. We fear that this will result in the practice of libel tourism shifting from London to Edinburgh.  Since publishers operate throughout the UK, an unreformed Scottish law has the potential to chill free speech everywhere in the United Kingdom, undermining the Defamation Act.

We are bringing together lawyers, journalists, bloggers, academics, authors and members of civil society who would lke to be involved in a campaign to bring libel reform to Scotland. We want to gather examples of the libel 'chill' where journalists, consumer groups or scientists in Scotland have been discouraged from publishing on matters in the public interest. We would love to see as many of you as possible there.

It’s at the Saltire Society at 9 Fountain Close, 22 High Street, Edinburgh, EH1 1TF at 5.00 pm on Thursday 17th July. Please RVSP to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

- See more at: http://www.senseaboutscience.org/news.php/403/bringing-libel-reform-to-scotland#sthash.kp4GcY4Z.dpuf

New campaign group says “Protect free speech in Northern Ireland”

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Some of Northern Ireland’s most prominent writers, academics, scientists, lawyers, journalists and bloggers have come together to back reform of Northern Ireland’s archaic libel laws.

The newly launched Advisory Council of the Northern Ireland Libel Reform Campaign will be urging Stormont to undertake essential reform of the law to protect free speech and ensure that public interest reporting is not curtailed by the current law, elements of which pre-date the invention of the light bulb.

The Advisory Council will be crucial in gathering evidence of the impact of the law of libel on free speech and scientific inquiry across society, which will be used as part of the Northern Ireland Law Commission’s consultation later this year. The campaign asks anyone with evidence of libel threats to contact them via their website libelreform.org.

The Advisory Council is formed of Queen’s Professor Colm Campbell and former Professor, Dr. Tom Woolley, journalists Paul Connolly and Lyra McKee, lawyers Neil Faris, Brian Garrett, Niamh Hargan and Olivia O’Kane, novelist Glenn Patterson, blogger Brian John Spencer and Mike Harris, Jo Glanville and Sile Lane from the Libel Reform Campaign.

Read more...

Can you help us rally the people of Northern Ireland to demand libel reform?

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On Wednesday 7th May the Libel Reform Campaign will bring together writers, journalists, scientists, academics, human rights advocates and civil society organisations to form a coalition to reform the law of libel in Northern Ireland.

There is a real concern that the current law of libel in Northern Ireland is chilling open discussion about academic and scientific research. We need this coalition to make the case for reform of these archaic laws to the Northern Ireland Law Commission consultation on libel reform, which is expected to launch soon.

The failure to extend the Defamation Act 2013 to Northern Ireland has created a loophole in the law that could undermine everything we have fought so hard for. You can read the campaign's criticisms of the law and the process that led to the new Defamation Act not being applied to Northern Ireland here and here.

We would appreciate your attendance at this event to help bring together the coalition. Jo Glanville from English PEN, Síle Lane from Sense About Science will be joined by others campaigning for libel reform in Northern Ireland.

The event will be hosted in The Lab at the Belfast MAC (10 Exchange Street West, Belfast BT1 2NJ) from 10am - 12.30pm on 7th May. Refreshments will be provided.

Please RSVP here.

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