Libel reform campaign: a letter to the Prime Minister

As some of you may have seen over the last few weeks, the Defamation Bill - the result of much hard work by the Libel Reform Campaign, of which Mumsnet is a supporter - is currently threatened by a political row involving the attachment of clauses related to Lord Leveson's press proposals.

Below is the text of a letter to the Prime Minister outlining our concerns about the Bill. If you'd like to add your voice to those calling for the Bill to be timetabled as a matter of urgency, do write to your MP.

13 March 2013

Dear Prime Minister,

I'm writing to ask you to make it a priority to give parliamentary time to the Defamation Bill before the end of this session.

As you may know, Mumsnet has been an enthusiastic supporter of the Libel Reform Campaign for some years now. We are proud to have worked with such a rare alliance of academics, NGOs, scientists, lawyers and citizen groups; and we have been impressed by the enthusiasm and dedication with which Coalition MPs and supporters have addressed the need for reform. The Bill as it stood before the Third Reading in the Lords wasn't perfect, but seemed to us to be a considerable improvement on the law as it currently stands. We were very much looking forward to welcoming the new Act.

It is immensely disappointing that, through no fault of the government's, the Bill has now been defaced by irrelevant clauses relating to recommendations made by Lord Leveson. But we would urge you not to compound this by failing to bring the Bill back to the Commons in the next few weeks.

While we understand that the political situation surrounding the Leveson proposals is fraught, we feel it would be a huge error to allow the Bill to fall without giving the Commons the chance to remove the relevant clauses. If at all possible, the Bill should be allowed to proceed into legislation in the form that was originally intended, and which has been so thoroughly scrutinised by legislators and members of the public.

Along with the many well-rehearsed benefits surrounding freedom of expression, a more modern and transparent defamation regime would do so much to contribute to the continuing success of British online businesses in a fiercely competitive global marketplace. We very much hope you will find a way to allow MPs to have the final say on this tremendously important piece of legislation.

Yours,

Justine Roberts

CEO and Co-founder

Mumsnet

 

Last updated: 14-Mar-2013 at 6:32 PM