Some time back I wrote to my MP, Lib Dem Richard Younger-Ross, to ask why he hadn't signed up to Early Day Motion 423 for libel law reform. I'm please to say I've received a reply in a bundle of forwarded mail. The news in a nutshell: Richard Younger-Ross wholeheartedly supports the campaign for libel reform!
"As a nation we have found ourselves in the position where doctors who criticise heart implants and journalists who expose corporate cynicism are being sued in our courts for libel, rather than being congratulated for trying to save lives. This has to change. While individuals need a right to redress if their reputation is damaged, our laws need to give more protection to the right to free expression.
English libel laws barely recognise the invention of the printing press, let alone the internet, and our outdated laws have become a scourge not only here, but abroad too. We see it as an embarrassment that foreigners can be sued in our courts on the flimsiest of pretexts, and that this has led the United Nations Human Rights Committee to take the view that our laws discourage "critical media reporting on matters of serious public intewrest, adversely affecting the ability of scholars and journalists to publish their work", and that 'libel tourism' could "affect freedom of expression world-wide on matters of valid public interest
[...] I am pleased to inform you I have signed EDM 423, and that the Liberal Democrats will continue to support calls for a Libel Law Reform in Parliament, and will urge the other parties to follow our lead"
Kudos to Richard Younger-Ross and his brethren!
Result! at the risk of appearing biased, the Lib Dems do have a strong track record on libel reform, particularly since our last annual conference where we debated the need for reform and made a policy commitment to make libel laws fairer.
Although there is considerable cross-party support for libel reform of some description, not all MPs are willing to sign the EDM, for various reasons. My own MP, Iain Duncan Smith, appears to wholeheartedly support the need to reform the law but is reluctant to sign the EDM.
Good on ya for getting another signatory, keep making a noise on this issue right up to the election!