Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Free Speech is Not For Sale

h/t to Dolphinarium for alerting me to this petition.

This week is the first anniversary of the report Free Speech is Not for Sale, which highlighted the oppressive nature of English libel law; a law which is extremely hostile to writers, while being unreasonably friendly towards powerful corporations and individuals who want to silence critics.

In light of recent events on the British Catholic blogosphere, Catholic bloggers should be particularly aware that English libel law is a pernicious tool in the hands of bullies everywhere.

The English libel law is particularly dangerous for bloggers who are generally not backed by publishers and who can end up being sued in London regardless of where the blog was posted. The internet allows bloggers to reach a global audience, but it also allows the High Court in London to have a global reach.

Priestly bloggers face the additional threat of being abandoned to their fates by the very bishops who should be supporting them as a matter of principle.

You can read more about the peculiar and grossly unfair nature of English libel law at the website of the Libel Reform Campaign. The campaign is not calling for the removal of libel law, but for a libel law that is fair and which would allow writers a reasonable opportunity to express their opinion and then defend it.

The British Government has made a commitment to draft a bill that will reform libel but it is imperative that bloggers and their readers send a strong signal to politicians so that they keep their promise. You can do this by joining me and over 50,000 others who have signed the libel reform petition at

You can sign the petition whatever your nationality and wherever you live. Indeed, signatories from overseas remind British politicians that the English libel law is out of step with the rest of the free world.

1 comment:

David Lindsay said...

If the current judicially imposed arrangement on privacy were enacted into the statute law, but with the burden of proof in libel actions placed on the plaintiff, then who could object to that? And why?

Making the privacy law statutory as the price of reversing the burden of proof in libel actions. That would be the deal. The corporate media cannot expect their own way all the time.