Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Libel campaign: free speech is not for sale

Having recently noted Iceland's hopes to become a kind of anti-secrecy haven, to protect journalists and others seeking to expose information in the public interest; and having blogged a lot on libel recently, particularly on Britain's shameful libel laws, we're pleased to see Michael Peel weighing in now on this subject in the Financial Times.

It begins:

When Peter Carter-Ruck, Britain’s most famous libel lawyer, died in 2003, it was as if an era had ended. He “had a chilling effect on the media”, David Hooper, a former partner in his firm, wrote in The Guardian. “He was a chancer, out for the maximum fee. And he did for freedom of speech what the Boston Strangler did for door-to-door salesmen.”

Well said. But it notes that after Carter-Ruck's death, this poisoned thorn in British (and global democracy) remains in place. The article, exploring a growing campaign for change (and much more) is worth reading. As a reminder, it cites an Oxford University study on the costs of libel, which found, after exhaustive research, that

If the figure for average costs across the jurisdictions is calculated without including the figures from England and Wales and Ireland, England and Wales is seen to be around 140 times more costly than the average.

Time for Britain's sedition law for the exclusive use of millionaires to be overthrown. It protects Britain's financial centre, itself arguably the world's most important tax haven. Please sign the petition, join the Facebook page, and more.


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