This week saw the publication of a hugely important report on libel reform in England and Wales. The report is from the Joint Committee on the Draft Defamation Bill, which has been considering the government’s proposed bill after oral and written evidence from interested parties. The proposed new legislation will be the first wholesale reform of the libel laws of England and Wales since 1843.
But why is this important for scientists? Increasingly, individuals and companies are using England’s outdated libel laws to suppress legitimate scientific debate and discovery. I wrote a report on the Libel Reform and Science session at this year’s Science Communication Conference. The sterling work of Sense About Science‘s Keep Libel Laws out of Science campaign (as part of the wider Libel Reform campaign) has raised the profile of the libel reform movement in the UK, but there is still a long way to go.
Please read this excellent summary of the report by Stephen Curry (who has written about libel reform numerous times before), as well as the press release from the Keep Libel Laws out of Science campaign.