Defamation threat leaves people “terrified” to publish articles

BMJ 2011; 342 doi: (Published 15 June 2011) Cite this as: BMJ 2011;342:d3773
  1. Adrian O’Dowd
  1. 1London

Writers and clinicians are often “terrified” to publish articles that are potentially defamatory because of the legal consequences, politicians have been told.

Witnesses appearing on 13 June before the parliamentary joint committee looking into the draft Defamation Bill for England and Wales heard that the current laws on defamation and libel needed to change to ensure fairness. The committee, made up of MPs and peers, was holding an evidence session for its inquiry into the bill.

Under the bill the government is proposing to change libel laws in England and Wales to ensure that people can state honest opinions with confidence. The proposal is a response to concerns that defamation laws are crushing freedom of expression and that the threat of libel proceedings is sometimes …

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