PEN Launches Libel Report

English PEN, together with Index on Censorship, have today launched the report of our year long libel inquiry.

In recent years, a number of unique features of English libel law have conspired to present a very real challenge to free expression.  The effects of this have been felt not only in the UK, where journalists and scientists have been discouraged from scrutinising wealthy corporations, but in other countries too.  A phenomenon of ‘libel tourism’ has arisen, where people choose to sue in London, rather than in their home jurisdictions.  Journalism around the world is being stunted by English law, and overseas publishers are wiothdrawing from British markets as a result.  In the USA, congress is legislating to protect American citizens from English law.

The report, Free Speech is Not For Sale, identifies 10 areas for reform.  We believe that anyone in the Government or the legal profession who is serious libel about reform must acknowledge the challenge presented by these problems.  For each, we propose a solution that would expand the space for free speech in the UK, and create a more robust democracy as a result.

Alongside the report, we have launched a new website with Index on Censorship and Sense About Science, which will co-ordinate the campaign for libel reform  The site carries the full report as a PDF, presents articles on why the law needs to be changed, and gives information on how you can lobby your MP on this issue:

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