Page last updated at 17:33 GMT, Monday, 13 June 2011 18:33 UK

Draft Defamation Bill Joint Committee

MPs and peers continued hearing evidence on the government's draft Defamation Bill on 13 June 2011.

The joint committee has been set up to investigate the draft bill that is designed to reform libel laws in England and Wales.

The bill was presented by Justice Secretary Ken Clarke in March, following concerns that existing libel laws were damaging freedom of expression in scientific and academic debate.

Evidence was heard from senior members of the media industry including the science journalists Ben Goldacre and Simon Singh and the author Tom Bower.

The committee also took evidence from the BBC's Head of Litigation Sarah Jones and the editors of the Nature and British Medical Journal journals Philip Campbell and Fiona Godlee.

The Conservatives, Labour and the Liberal Democrats all committed to reviewing libel law in their election manifestos.

It is proposed to scrap the common law defences of "justification" and "fair comment" and replace them with new statutory defences of "truth" and "honest opinion".

Supporters of the proposals say the new laws will make it tougher for people to bring overseas claims which have little connection to the UK.

Labour have welcomed moves to crack down on so-called "libel tourism", but shadow justice minister Robert Flello has said "the devil is in the detail" of the bill.


Story Tools


Sign in

BBC navigation

Copyright © 2020 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific