Wednesday, 5 March 2014

The story of the Defamation Act 2013

The modern movement to reform the law of libel in the UK began after Simon Singh was sued (2008-2010) by the British Chiropractic Association. An action described by David Allen Green as "misinformed" and "illiberal". An action commenced after Singh wrote an article in the Guardian saying that chiropractors who said they could treat children's colic and other ailments by manipulation of the spine were “bogus”.

A campaign emerged to support Signh who faced ruinous damage payments. The campaign was transformed by the charity Sense About Science and by English Pen and Index on Censorship. From this emerged "the Libel Reform Campaign". The three leading political parties backed libel reform in the 2010 general election. Via David Allen Green (@JackofKent).

David Allen Green (@JackofKent) provided us with a chronology:

1. The Old law
Defamation Act 1952Defamation Act 1996Pre-action Protocol for Defamation Claims
2. The Background to Reform
- Libel Reform Campaign Report: Free Speech Is Not For Sale- Lord Lester’s draft Defamation Bill 2010 - debated in Lords July 2010- Ministry of Justice consultation on defamation bill – March to June 2011- Joint Parliamentary Committee established for consideration of draft defamation bill – April 2011- Joint Parliamentary Committee report on draft defamation bil- October 2011- Ministry of Justice response to consultation – November 2011- Ministry of Justice response to Joint Parliamentary Committee report – March 2012
3. Defamation Bill 2012
- Defamation Bill announced in Queens Speech 2012- The Parliamentary website page for tracking progress of the Defamation BillDefamation Bill as presented on First ReadingExplanatory Notes to Defamation Bill presented on First Reading- First Reading in Commons – May 2012

Mike Harris gives a run down of those who helped create the new law. Including special mention for David Allen Green:
"David’s call to arms in the Wetherspoons pub (the Penderal’s Oak) in Holborn is immortalised in a plaque that now hangs on the wall. As one of the campaigning lawyers and journalists who gave impetus to the campaign he stuck with us through thick and thin."

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