Huppert calls on government to reform libel law
March 12, 2012
MP Julian Huppert will call on the government to introduce a new Libel Reform Bill in the next Queen’s Speech to protect freedoms and reputations.
Julian will raise the issue during Justice Questions in the House of Commons on Wednesday (March 14) after gaining resounding support for the move at the Liberal Democrats’ Spring Conference yesterday (Sunday, March 11).
He told the Gateshead conference that every citizen should have the chance defend his or her reputation in the courts through a libel action not just those who can afford the exorbitant costs.
And he demanded the right to claim ‘public interest’ as a defence against criminal and civil charges to protect and foster investigative journalism.
“Our libel laws are outdated and unbalanced,” said Julian. “Under English law at the moment, the cost of defamation proceedings limits freedom of expression; and it is only the rich and powerful who can afford to defend their reputations by suing for libel.
“We must give every individual the ability to protect themselves in law if they become a victim of false or damaging material, not just those who can afford to pay. But we must not allow free speech to be silenced by the rich and powerful.
“That is why I want to see a new Libel Reform Bill to provide better protection for every citizen.”
Julian’s Civil Liberties motion also called for an end to heavy handed policing, kettling – where protesters are cordoned off in an area during a demonstration – and stronger controls on tasers and stop and search measures.