Thursday, March 10, 2011

The Libel Reform Bill


Houses of Parliament, originally uploaded by Dave Gorman.

The campaign to reform the UK's libel laws continues with the launch of a new blueprint - a document that explains clearly and concisely the changes that people think are necessary - in Parliament today. Unfortunately I'm working and won't be able to be in Committee Room 5 to lend my support in person.

There has been much discussion on twitter about it this morning... in part generated by the support of some slebtastic names... Jonathan Ross, Dara O'Briain, Shappi Khorsandi, Marcus Brigstocke and loads of others have attached their names to it.

But I worry that some people will see the names and be put off. Not because they dislike those people but because the very concept of celebrity suggests that these-people-are-different-to-the-rest-of-us.

The most read about libel cases are those that involve celebrities. I think most people think libel is largely about newspapers printing some lies about so-and-so sleeping with whojamaflip and that therefore it's nothing to do with them.

So when they see a load of glittery names attached they might be tempted to think, "Libel reform... slebs... yeah... they'll be wanting tougher laws for the newspapers and stuff... that's not really much of a priority thanks very much..."

But that's not what it's about at all. It's about making the system fairer for all. At the moment the UK libel laws allow rich people to bully poor people. If you write a blog or post on a forum you should be in support of Libel Reform.

If you want a free press that can investigate what's going on in the world you should be in support of Libel Reform. And if you want medical research to advance properly, through scientific debate and for naysayers to not be silenced by wealthy pharmaceutical companies... then, yep, you should be in support of it too.

I think that's pretty much everyone. Whether people agree with the blueprint or not I hope people realise this is an issue that seriously affects us all...

1 comment:

thatpeskysquirrel said...

I am very much in support of this, I write a blog at http://newsdiscontent.wordpress.com and not a lot of what I say would be liked by certain people who may choose to read it! But I stand by my right to freedom of speech, and am glad that these changes can be made to stop people like me being bullied by rich people who do it only because they don't like what they read.

Good on you, slebrityz!