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Keep libel laws out of science

KLOSSense About Science launched the Keep Libel Laws out of Science campaign in June 2009, calling for reform of the libel laws to protect open scientific discussion.

We encourage scientists to enter public debates on science and we support open discussion about scientific research so when we became aware that our libel laws were chilling scientific discussion, we knew we had to act. We objected to several high profile cases brought against scientists and were inundated with correspondence from hundreds of scientific researchers, patient groups, writers and publishers around the world about libel threats being used to silence scientific debate.

Our timeline of events shows Sense About Science’s story since June 2009 to our work today as part of the Libel Reform Campaign with writers' organisation English PEN and free-speech organisation Index on Censorship. The groundswell of support for the campaign led to all three main political parties including reform of the libel laws in their manifestoes at the 2010 UK General Election and the Government publishing a draft Defamation Bill in March 2011.  This is our first chance in a century to changes laws which have drawn international criticism. 

We are working with medical and scientific groups and our supporters to ensure that changes made to the laws are substantial and meaningful. Add your voice, follow progress and get involved at www.libelreform.org

Timeline of the campaign

Keep Libel Laws out of Science logo 
Sense About Science launches Keep Libel Laws out of Science

June 2009

    Simon Singh
BCA V Singh
Simon Singh on the background to his case

  World Conference Science Journalists
The World Conference of Science Journalists

July 2009

    Simon's Appeal
Simon Singh's application turned down by Court of Appeal
 

August 2009

     Simon Royal Courts Justice
Simon Singh to apply again to Court of Appeal for oral hearing
  Richard Dawkins
Richard Dawkins Addresses the Liberal Democrat Annual Party Conference

September 2009

 
  Lib Dem logo
The Liberal Democrats commit to libel reform

 

 
  ABSW
The Association of British Science Writers annual lecture

October 2009

    Simon's Appeal
Simon Singh is granted permission to appeal
  Free Speech is Not for Sale report
Free Speech is Not For Sale report published

November 2009

 

Jack Straw acknowledges need for libel reform

 

 
  Libel campaign launch
Launch of Libel Reform Campaign

December 2009

Panel for Simon Singh's appeal announced
  Clegg speech
Nick Clegg addresses Royal Society on libel

January 2010

 
  Jack Straw announces plans to reduces costs of libel
Jack Straw announces plans to reduce costs of libel laws and announces formation of new working group on libel law

 

 
  CMS report
CMS Report 'Press Standards, Privacy and Libel'

February 2010

   Simon's appeal

Simon Singh's appeal hearing
  Big Libel Gig
Big Libel Week

March 2010

 
  Professor Lacerda
Prof. Lacerda addresses MPs on libel chill
   
  Dara
The Big Libel Gig featuring Dara O Briain, Tim Minchin, Robin Ince, Ed Byrne and many more 
   
  Mass Lobby
Mass Lobby of Parliament
   
Report of the Libel Working Group published    
Labour logo
Labour Party commits to libel reform
   
  Conservatives
Conservatives commit to libel reform

April 2010

   Simon appeal judgement

Simon Singh appeal successful

  Manifestos
Three major parties commit to libel reform in manifestos
 

   Simon Singh judgement

The BCA drop their case against Simon Singh

Parliamentary Early Day Motion for libel reform closes

   
  Free speech hustings
Free Speech Election Hustings
   
  Lord Lester

Lord Lester's Libel Bill published

May 2010

 
  Libel Bill

Government announces libel reform bill

July 2010

 

Medical Journalists' Association Awards 

   
  SPEECH act
US passes SPEECH Act against libel tourism

August 2010

 
Libel Reform Campaign events at three main party conferences    
  Reforming Libel leaflet
Reforming Libel: What must a Defamation Bill achieve?

September 2010

A letter from Simon Singh, Ben Goldacre and Peter Wilmshurst calling for libel reform
  Geek Calendar
Launch of Geek Calendar to raise funds for libel reform

October 2010

 
  Bloggers guide
New guide to libel laws for bloggers published

November 2010

     Boob job threat
Plastic surgeon threatened for comment on 'boob job' cream
  Liberty awards
Libel Reform Campaign nominated for Liberty Human Rights Awards

   
  One Year On
One Year On: Justice Minister says libel laws not fit for   purpose

December 2010

    Peter Wilmshurst
US company ordered to pay costs into court or have libel action against cardiologist struck out
  Nick CLegg civil liberties
Nick Clegg commits to libel reform in speech on civil liberties

January 2011

 
  What should a defamation bill contain?

What should a Defamation Bill contain?

March 2011

     Peter Wilmshurst

Cardiologist Peter Wilmshurst sued for libel for 4th time  
Government publishes draft Defamation Bill    
Ask your MP to support EDM 1636 on libel reform    
Libel Reform Campaign tell MPs what we think of draft bill

May 2011

Our written evidence to the scrutiny committee

 

Help us shape Britain's libel laws

 

Ministers say draft bill is not reform

June 2011

Critic sued in Australia for libel by weight-loss product manufacturer
A quick guide to libel laws in England and Wales

 

A message from Simon Singh & Ben Goldacre

  BMA
British Medical Association votes unanimously for libel law reform

   
 

August 2011

     

Peter Wilmshurst

 
Scrutiny committee of the draft Defamation Bill publishes its report

October 2011

 

Parliamentary event November 2011

 

Campaigners call on the Minister to back urgent action on libel law reform

November 2011

Nature defends a libel action in the High Court
 


Richard Dawkins, Amazon and Vaughn Jones defend a libel action in the High Court
    Bloggers threatened with libel action after discussing unproven cancer treatments

All we want for Christmas is our MPs to back libel reform in the Queen's Speech

December 2011


Government's response to Joint Scrutiny Committee on Draft Defamation Bill

March 2012

Rally

 

 

Rally for Libel Reform

  Decision in Dawkins, Amazon.co.uk and Jones libel case

Libel reform announced in Queen’s Speech to Parliament

May 2012 


Government publishes Defamation Bill 2012    
Second reading debate of Defamation Bill 2012

June 2012

 
Rally for a public interest defence     
 Decision in Nature libel case July 2012  
Report and third reading of Defamation Bill 2012 September 2012  
Defamation Bill goes to House of Lords October 2012  

Ed Miliband supports new pubilc interest defence
   
Collection of stories on the need for a new pubilc interest defence December 2012  
Defamation Bill moves to Grand Committee in House of Lords    
Don't drop the Defamation Bill February 2013  
The Government must bring the Defamation Bill back to the Commons March 2013  
Defamation Bill returns to the House of Commons April 2013  
Government chooses business interests over citizens      
Defamation Bill returns to the House of Lords    
Defamation Bill is given Royal Assent. Here's our initial analysis.    
Join us to raise a glass to libel reform. May 2013
 
Penderel's Oak - four years on.     
The Defamation Act and next steps for libel reform   June 2013  
Libel reform: What Next?      
Don’t bring the libel bullies to Belfast, say authors  September 2013  

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