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'The Ugly Truth'

by Tracey Brown, director of Sense About Science

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The Rally for Libel Reform

15 March 2012crowd

Over 200 supporters joined us as at Inner Temple, London to launch the Alternative Libel Project’s final report and call for libel reform in the next Queen’s Speech.

Jonathan Heawood, English PEN, chaired the event and told us that with 60,000 individuals, hundreds of politicians, 60 organisations and all three main political parties calling for libel reform, we’re so close – but the Government must commit to a defamation bill in the next Queen’s Speech or this opportunity for reform could be missed for a generation.

Lord McNallyLord McNally, Minister for Justice, led short speeches with a quote from Winston Churchill: “Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.” He said he would be disappointed if libel reform is not in the Queen’s Speech. Lord McNally acknowledged the Government’s draft Defamation Bill doesn’t include everything the Libel Reform Campaign is calling for and urged us all to continue to help improve the legislation as it goes through Parliament.

David Allen Green, New Statesman, and Nick Cohen, The Observer, reminded us how far the campaign has come and warned againstTracey Brown complacency. Charmian Gooch, Global Witness, and Simon Singh spoke about problems that still urgently need to be addressed. Tracey Brown, Sense About Science, highlighted the lack of a public interest defence and ended by telling supporters our part is not yet done and that we still need to work towards improving libel legislation.  

Watch the Libel Reform Campaign video created by Robert Sharp, English PEN, which sets out the problems of the libel laws and what we need to do next. 

 

Read accounts of the rally by supporters Stephen Curry and Vaughan Jones

Photographs by Stephen Curry and Robert Sharp.