Mass lobby for a public interest defence

E-mail Print PDF

Meeting to discuss improvements to the Defamation Bill

***Please note change of venue to Committee Room 11***

Join us to tell Parliament we need a new public interest defence to libel.

On Wednesday 27th June at 10:30 Dara Ó Briain, Professor Brian Cox and Dave Gorman, organisations backing libel reform including Which?, Mumsnet and Nature, the three charities at the heart of the Libel Reform Campaign (Index on Censorship, English PEN and Sense About Science) and victims of the libel laws including Simon Singh, Ben Goldacre and Peter Wilmshurst will tell Parliament that we need a new public interest defence.

The Defamation Bill contains measures to reduce libel tourism and end the multiple publication rule.  However, it has failed to put forward a useable public interest defence and offers no restrictions on the ability of corporations to silence critics.

Unless these issues are addressed, libel threats and libel actions will still be used to bully newspaper journalists, scientists, bloggers, consumer groups, human rights activists and others.

In this final push for a truly fair and effective Defamation Bill, we need your help. Please join us in Parliament at 10:30 am on Wednesday 27th June.

To attend the meeting, please come to the Cromwell Green entrance to the Houses of Parliament, marked 7 on the map. You will have to allow about 20 minutes to pass through security and to get to Committee Room 11. Let us know if you plan to come by emailing This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it so that we can save you a space.

 

Lobby for a public interest defence in libel

After the meeting, you can also participate in the mass lobby.

A mass lobby is when a large number of people go to Parliament to raise the same concern each with their own MP at the same time. You have a right to go to the House and to meet your MP in the heart of Parliament, and they are usually keen to see you if they are free.

 

What do I need to do to take part in the mass lobby?

1) Find out who your MP is, and their contact details, here: www.theyworkforyou.com

2) Email them or write to them.

Identify yourself as a constituent – give your postal address.

Tell your MP: I will be coming to the House of Commons on Wednesday 27th June at 10.30 am for a meeting on libel law reform in Committee Room 11. I would like to meet you at that meeting or after PMQs in the Central Lobby between 12:30 and 13:30 to find out where you stand and what your party can do to make sure the Defamation Bill contains a new, effective public interest defence.

3) Turn up on the day


What will happen on the day?

Come to the Cromwell Green entrance to the Houses of Parliament. You will have to allow about 20 minutes to pass through security and to get to Committee Room 11. We will hear from high profile champions of the campaign on why they need the Bill to go further to protect public interest discussions. Your MP may be there if you wrote to them. We can ask them en masse what they can do or you can ask them personally.

Usually your MP will reply to your email agreeing to meet you in central lobby or apologising for not being around (you should ask to meet their researcher in that case).

Please let us know if you can come and if your MP agrees to meet you. Email us at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

 

Why is a public interest defence so important?

You can read our briefing note to MPs on the Defamation Bill, which covers the need for a public interest defence on page 3.

A public interest would have been important in these cases, as it would have saved all parties large amount of time, money and stress:
BCA v Singh
NMT v Wilmshurst
Rath v Goldacre (youtube)

The most important point to remember is that a public interest defence encourages good, honest investigative journalism by bloggers, newspapers, scientists, human rights groups and others working on our behalf. Without such a defence, the rich and the powerful with something to hide will continue to bully their critics into silence.