cearta.ie

the Irish for rights

Thawing the libel chill?

Science Gallery logoOn Thursday evening, from 6:30pm to 8:00pm, the Science Gallery in TCD will host what promises to be a fascinating event on the chilling impact of the law of libel on scientific debate:

Libel Chill with Simon Singh and Peter Wilmshurst

Libel reform has become increasingly relevant in scientific research and journalism in the UK and Ireland, as highlighted in recent times by the high profile case of Simon Singh. Libel laws have been accused of intimidating journalists, scientists and publishers into silence for fear of legal persecution. The effect has been dubbed “libel chill” and the Libel Reform Campaign argues ‘Freedom to criticise and question, in strong terms and without malice, is the cornerstone of argument and debate, whether in scholarly journals, on websites, in newspapers or elsewhere. Our current libel laws inhibit debate and stifle free expression. They discourage writers from tackling important subjects and thereby deny us the right to read about them.’

Master of ceremonies for the evening will be Myles Dungan, and speakers will include Simon Singh, who successfully defended a two year libel battle with the British Chiropractic Association, and his lawyer Robert Dougans. Cardiologist Peter Wilmshurst who is currently being sued for libel in the biggest ongoing medical libel case, and his lawyer Mark Lewis, will also speak at the event.

There will be much discussion of amending the libel laws. For once, Irish law is ahead of the curve. The Defamation Act, 2009 eventually reformed Ireland’s outdated libel laws (though, of course, more could have been done). English law is likely soon to follow suit.

Today’s Times Online carries a very important article by Anthony Lester (Lord Lester of Herne Hill, QC, human rights lawyer, free speech campaigner, Lib Dem peer, and Adjunct Prof of Law, UCC) argues that England’s law of libel must be rebalanced in the scales of justice, since it has a chilling impact on free speech, which is the lifeblood of democracy. English libel law, he says, “is notoriously costly, complicated and stifling of free speech”. The programme for government for the UK’s new government promises to “review libel laws to protect freedom of speech”. Lester therefore proposes to publish on Thursday (just in time for the Science Gallery event) a Private Member’s Bill on Defamation to help in that review. An Editorial in the Times urges the UK’s government to “seize Lord Lester’s template of legal sanity” which thoroughly “deserves to become law”. It is the latest step in an ongoing campaign for reform of the UK’s libel laws, and it is discussed by Lester on BBC radio’s Today programme this morning. Listen, and then buy a ticket for Thursday’s event.

2 Responses to “Thawing the libel chill?”

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Bosca, Eoin O'Dell. Eoin O'Dell said: http://tinyurl.com/3ayblec My new blogpost: Thawing the libel chill? […]

  2. […] few weeks ago, the Science Gallery in TCD hosted a fascinating event on the chilling impact of the law of libel […]

Leave a Reply

 

Welcome

Me in a hatHi there! Thanks for dropping by. I'm Eoin O'Dell, and this is my blog: Cearta.ie - the Irish for rights.

"Cearta" really is the Irish word for rights, so the title provides a good sense of the scope of this blog.

In general, I write here about private law, free speech, and cyber law; and, in particular, I write about Irish law and education policy.

Academic links
Academia.edu
ORCID

Subscribe

  • RSS Feed
  • RSS Feed
  • Subscribe via Email
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn

Archives by month

Categories by topic

My recent tweets

Blogroll (or, really, a non-blogroll)

What I'd like for here is a simple widget that takes the list of feeds from my existing RSS reader and displays it here as a blogroll. Nothing fancy. I'd love a recommendation, if you have one.

I had built a blogroll here on my Google Reader RSS subscriptions. Google Reader produced a line of html for each RSS subscription category, each of which I pasted here. So I had a list of my subscriptions as my blogroll, organised by category, which updated whenever I edited Google Reader. Easy peasy. However, with the sad and unnecessary demise of that product, so also went this blogroll. Please take a moment to mourn Google Reader. If there's an RSS reader which provides a line of html for the list of subscriptions, or for each RSS subscription category as Google Reader did, I'd happily use that. So, as I've already begged, I'd love a recommendation, if you have one.

Meanwhile, please bear with me until I find a new RSS+Blogroll solution

Thanks,

Eoin.

Licence

Creative Commons License

This blog is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License. I am happy for you to reuse and adapt my content, provided that you attribute it to me, and do not use it commercially. Thanks. Eoin

Credit where it’s due

The image in the banner above is a detail from a photograph of the front of Trinity College Dublin night taken by Melanie May.

Others whose technical advice and help have proven invaluable in keeping this show on the road include Dermot Frost, Karlin Lillington, Daithí Mac Síthigh, and Antoin Ó Lachtnáin.

Thanks to Blacknight for hosting.