The fragmented state of libel laws in the UK means you will not be able to see a US-made documentary about the Church of Scientology. English and Welsh libel was reformed in 2013. The hurdles for the claimant were raised and the defences strengthened.
Northern Ireland has the old libel
But Northern Ireland kept the same old libel laws. The Church’s solicitors in Belfast have warned Sky that if it broadcasts Going Clear it will be sued there for libel. Sky cannot select which parts of the UK it transmits to so nobody is going to see the documentary.
No action in the USA
It’s been broadcast in the USA where it was seen by 5.5 million. And no libel action by the Church there.
No public interest defence in Belfast
In England and Wales Sky could argue the documentary was in the public interest. And it could argue that the reputation of the Church was not seriously damaged. But in Belfast there is no such defence.
Plug for course
I explain the whole position of libel in the UK in our new updated e-learning course.
You can win a free e-learning course from ContentETC when you get the best caption in our Picture Caption Competition. Go on, have a go. You could win our new updated course on libel.