UK Liberal Democrats promise a statutory public interest defence to libel

BMJ 2010; 340 doi: (Published 20 April 2010) Cite this as: BMJ 2010;340:c2150
  1. Clare Dyer
  1. 1BMJ

    Whichever party wins the general election in the United Kingdom on 6 May—and even if, as seems increasingly likely, the result is a hung parliament—libel reform is probably on the cards. All three parties have put the issue in their manifestos, though some more strongly and in more detail than others.

    Dissatisfaction with English libel laws and their chilling effect on freedom of speech has been rumbling away at a low level for years. The credit for moving it up the political agenda must go in part to the high profile campaign waged by the Coalition for Libel Reform, made up of English PEN, Index on Censorship, and Sense about Science.

    A spate of libel actions against scientists has focused attention on the potential for self censorship to close down debate on health and public safety issues, even in peer reviewed journals.

    The campaign highlighted the libel action against the science writer Simon Singh by the British Chiropractic Association over a comment piece in the Guardian newspaper …

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