Monday, July 13, 2009

England and Wales: a sedition law for millionaires

A year ago we blogged on Britain's international hooliganism in the field of libel, noting this remark from a well-known columnist, quoting this:

"The libel laws of England and Wales are tilted so heavily against the defendant and involve such monumental costs that they amount, in effect, to censorship by private interests: a sedition law for the exclusive use of millionaires.

A new article in The Guardian newspaper revisits the theme:

Britain has become the libel capital of the world, home of what has come to be known as "libel tourism", the destination of choice for Russian oligarchs and others to prosecute not just journalists, but book authors, even NGOs."

As you can imagine, we are greatly interested in this issue. The article continues:

"The problem with British journalism is that it shouts a great deal, throws many bricks, but uncovers precious little. Investigative journalism is a declining art. Much of that is due to economics. . . . But the main impediment comes from Britain's horrific libel laws. The chilling effect is hard to quantify, because beyond the prosecutions lies the self-censorship that is affecting so much journalism."

And now for something really terrifying.

"The Commons select committee on culture, media and sport is due in a few weeks to publish its report on "press standards, privacy and libel" – note the order. They will be tempted to use the latest scandal to do the opposite of what they should. Instead of loosening libel, they are likely to harden rules on privacy."

Another of our blogs adds this little detail:

"A recent study by the Centre for Socio-Legal Studies at Oxford University revealed the astonishing fact that the cost of libel litigation in England and Wales is 140 times the average elsewhere in Europe."

Index on Censorship and English PEN are fighting it. Give them all the support that you can.

Reminder: for a fascinating study on English libel laws in the field of tax and tax havens, look no further than here.


Blogger Unknown said...

Check out for an example of censorship!

12:02 am  

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