YOUR HELP NEEDED: a Mumsnet/Libel Reform Campaign call to action

(31 Posts)
MylinhMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 07-Mar-13 12:23:59

Hello

As most of you know, Mumsnet is a part of the Libel Reform Campaign, which has been pushing for a new Libel Bill in Parliament to reform England's archaic libel laws. The laws as they stand impact negatively on freedom of expression in the UK and abroad, with writers and current affairs programmes finding themselves facing defamation suits for breach of "super-injunctions", and human rights campaigners forced to edit or retract articles in the face of legal action.

We're proud that Mumsnet is a network which supports users' freedom of speech and anonymity (in most cases, of course, barring obvious breaches of conduct or abuse under a cloak of anonymity <cough> trolls <cough>). So many Mumsnetters take refuge in the site and gain support on difficult, real-life situations, and they do so confidentially.

England's current libel laws have the potential to silence users by demanding the removal of anonymous posts, or worse still threatening users with libel action if we do not identify them - no matter how trivial or informal the complaint. Though this hasn't happened yet, it's not a far cry from what might be if the law doesn't begin changing soon.

Thanks to years of campaigning with Mumsnet's support, the Libel Reform Campaign is now very close to getting a first Bill through Parliament; one which will protect academic and scientific freedoms, and provide greater legal cover for responsible journalism. However the bill is now under threat from a group of peers who have inserted amendments to stall its progress through Parliament.

The current parliamentary session ends in late April/early May. If the Bill doesn't reach the Commons in the next two weeks, it may be lost entirely.

We need your help. The Government has not tabled the Libel Bill.

We've only one week to save the bill. There are three quick and easy things you can do:

1. Write to your MP urging them to table the Bill via this simple "Don't Kill the Bill" form
2. Sign the Libel Reform petition
3. Share this link with your friends and family bit.ly/14ou0Vv

MPs have told us they don't think that libel reform is an issue of concern among constituents. Our experiences everyday on Mumsnet tell us otherwise. So if you care about and want to protect Mumsnetters' freedom of expression and confidentiality, please take action - write to your MP today!

Thanks
MNHQ

IlianaDupree Mon 11-Mar-13 14:59:05

In light of the we believe you campaign a number of posters posted about rape crimes. These posters have been discussed on the internet outwith mn, often with accompanying threats (not referring to myself here) how does this reform propose to protect them? A number of issues on mn could be attributed to rape disclosures. Nothing stops someone posing with an alternate pov to garner confidence of a whistleblower and therefore placing that person at risk.

Another example would be nhs whistleblowers?

CheeseStrawWars Mon 11-Mar-13 18:52:06

Thanks for the clarification. smile

NetworkGuy Mon 11-Mar-13 22:14:38

babyfaker - "whether or not ... it is still contempt of court."

OK, so it might be contempt but from what I read, a publisher might have a defence if "publication of the potentially prejudicial material was made innocently."

I'm not suggesting MNHQ would risk it, and I assume in any case where you considered there might be a contempt of court, you alerted MNHQ, but I stand by what I wrote, and don't believe some jottings in a post in a forum are likely to be considered in the same way as a 'Tweet' by someone like Stephen Fry.

RowanMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 14-Mar-13 09:50:24

IlianaDupree

In light of the we believe you campaign a number of posters posted about rape crimes. These posters have been discussed on the internet outwith mn, often with accompanying threats (not referring to myself here) how does this reform propose to protect them?

We know there have been some really horrendous examples of MN posters being threatened and abused on other websites as a result of things they've said on Mumsnet - and of course, we think this is pretty horrifying. But again, it's not really to do with libel; it's more a matter of threats and abuse. We would absolutely recommend that anyone who's worried should contact the police; online threats and abuse can be investigated if the police think they're sufficiently serious. And of course, do contact us here at MNHQ if you think withdrawing some of your Mumsnet posts would help.

RowanMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 14-Mar-13 10:28:35

We've written to David Cameron to ask him to timetable the bill as a matter of urgency: you can read the letter here, and do please write to your MP if you feel strongly about it or share this page on twitter/facebook/google + to spread the word.

IlianaDupree Fri 15-Mar-13 09:06:20

Thanks Rowan.

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