Fragmented libel blocks documentary on Scientology from the UK screens

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 Read More

What are the limits to freedom of speech?

Two interesting and important statements about freedom of speech in seminars at the University of East London this week.  One I agree with, another I do not. Actions not expressions First: laws should only deal with actions and not expressions.  The law should punish what people do not what they say.  Even if the expression Read More

ContentETC briefing prompts campaign to reform libel in Nigeria

A leading Nigerian media company plans to launch a campaign in Nigeria to reform Nigeria’s libel laws.  Media Trust, a newspaper, internet and magazine publisher in the Nigerian capital, plans to lobby other publishers and journalists to mount this campaign.  The aim is to reform the complicated libel laws to win more freedom of speech. Read More

Mann versus big oil

Here’s a libel case to watch: Prof Michael Mann of the USA versus climate-change deniers.  The Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) and The National Review attacked Mann, author of the hockey stick curve which, he says, proves there is global warning.  But they attacked in a way which, Mann claims, is a libel in the USA. Read More

May right to raise threat of law to underpin independent press regulation post Leveson

Teresa May is right to say the government would introduce legislation to underpin an independent regulation of the press if the press itself does not come up with a suitable plan, and soon. That’s a good negotiating tactic. Her legions of critics will say: “But it’s not Government policy, listen to the PM.” But there Read More

10 things Leveson must not fluff this Thursday

Ten things Leveson must not fluff 1                     Regulation must have legal backing: we can’t have the publishers opting out. 2                     Editors and publishers, including owners, should have responsibility for what their employees do, as in corporate manslaughter. 3                     Newspapers need to establishe internal compliance operations to implement a newly written code. 4                     Clarify what is Read More

Don’t criminalise consumption of content: only the actions which follow

We are criminalising people for consuming media: we should not be.   We should only make criminals of people who take an action as a result, not who consume content. There is a moral panic gripping us about the Savile affair and other accusations of child abuse.  The law already says that to look at child Read More

Social media puts reformers at risk

Two pieces of news this week show that social media is not such a liberating force as we had hoped. A Facebook user in Iran has, it seems, been killed by Iranian security forces for his entries; and A social media commentator in Bahrain has been jailed for offensive remarks about the regime. I am Read More

Murdoch custard pie over Bill of Rights

Rupert Murdoch has called for a Bill of Rights in the UK along the lines of the USA.  In fact we have two already. We have the Bill of Rights of 1689.  This created the first constitutional monarchy in the world.  It separated the powers of the judiciary, the legislature and the executive.  And it Read More