Sense about Science ? equipping people to make sense of science and evidence
Launch of the Libel Reform Campaign
In December 2009, Sense About Science, Index on Censorship and English PEN launched the Libel Reform Campaign
Sign the petition at www.libelreform.org
Over 20 000 people signed the Keep Libel Laws out of Science Campaign after its launch in June 2009 to protest against the silencing of critical discussion, medical practice and scientific evidence.
In December 2009, English PEN and Index on Censorship wrote the ‘Free Speech Is Not For Sale’ report to look at the impact of English libel law on freedom of expression.
Our three organisations joined together in December 2009 as a coalition to campaign for major libel law reform.
On Wednesday 9th December 2009, comedians, scientists and journalists came together at the Law Society to tell the public to sign a petition, calling on politicians to support a bill for major reform of the libel laws in the interest of fairness and free speech. They highlighted that for the first time in over a century we have an opportunity to change our unfair and repressive libel laws.
On Thursday 10th December 2009, academics, editors, human rights activists and writers went to Parliament to tell MPs and Peers what the public don’t get to hear under the English libel laws. They spoke about the impacts of English libel laws on academic integrity, and its chilling effect on medical and scientific debate and discussion.
Sign petition at www.libelreform.org
Tracey Brown, Managing Director, Sense About Science: “We have to show politicians that small tinkering with the libel laws won’t do - we need a real public interest defence. Otherwise, there will be more cases like those against Simon Singh and Peter Wilmshurst, and the libel laws will continue to be the tools of well-funded bullies who want to silence criticism.”
Jonathan Heawood, Director of English PEN: “Our libel laws allow people accused of funding terrorism or dumping toxic waste in Africa to silence their critics whilst ‘super-injunctions’ stop the public from even knowing that such allegations exist. We need to reform our libel laws now, and that’s why we’re launching a national campaign to persuade our politicians to do so.”
John Kampfner, the CEO of Index on Censorship: “If we don’t act we’re at risk of becoming a global pariah. There are US States who view English libel law as so damaging to free speech they have passed laws to effectively block the decisions of English judges. Our report is an important milestone in modernising our antiquated and chilling approach to free expression.”
Read why these comedians, scientists and editors signed up for libel reform.
Read some of our volunteers telling us why they wanted to help on the campaign.
The Sunday Times My week: Simon Singh
Solicitors Journal Power of the pen
New Statesman Campaign spotlight: Libel bashing
The Daily Politics Comedian Robin Ince on libel laws in England and Wales
The Sunday Times Libel laws stifle jokes by Alexei Sayle and Ricky Gervais
The Observer My week: Simon Singh
The Guardian Take on the libel bullies
The Mirror Dara O Briain wants libel law reform
The Independent Comic Dara O’Briain lambasts ‘bully’ libel law.
New Scientist blog Campaign to reform English libel law launched
Press Gazette Libel law can kill - reform it now.
Press Association Dara O’Briain wants libel reform