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Mumsnet campaign for a change to the libel law

(84 Posts)
JustineMumsnet (MNHQ) Wed 09-May-07 23:19:11

As you probably know we've been banging on for a while about updating the outmoded libel law so that sites like Mumsnet are afforded a bit more protection from potentially terminal legal action. Now we've settled our dispute with Gina Ford, we thought it a good idea to fully explain our position here . We've also written to the Department for Constitutional affairs today who are currently consulting on defamation. Do let us know if you have any thoughts/suggestions of anything else we should be doing.
M Towers

SoapOnARope Wed 09-May-07 23:21:58

Thanks Justine going for a good read. i could do with a change of reading matter

FiveFingeredFiend Wed 09-May-07 23:22:54

Nothing to add, but Right on sista!

Wotzsaname Wed 09-May-07 23:37:19

abit late now, i'll have a read over morning coffee, thanks for asking for your views.
FWIW - I think the "Disclaimer" should be more prominent, up with Contact us.

VeniVidiVickiQV Wed 09-May-07 23:40:05

well, I have no ideas, but give my full support to any action you take with this.

JustineMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 10-May-07 08:35:37

bump for those not up at midnight last night!

littlelapin Thu 10-May-07 08:43:36

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

morningpaper Thu 10-May-07 08:51:33

How would this sort of thing be changed, without a legal case setting a precedent?

JustineMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 10-May-07 08:54:01

Well there's this thing called Parliament and in it there's this other thing called government and they sometimes make some things called laws...Think that's how it works anyway - I did politics at Uni.

morningpaper Thu 10-May-07 09:08:05

Look it's all very well for you

I just studied religion and now I just do laundry and dribble over the postman

I don't know how these things work

And more of your cheek and I will stop doing your cleaning

Have we contacted any of those other service providers who said they would be happy to help in whatever way they could?

We could set up a errmmm Pressure Group

<returns to knitting>

morningpaper Thu 10-May-07 09:13:31

We should contact all these posters here

myfreeforum on Tue 08-Aug-06 16:57:18
The situation is also being monitored at and we are willing to make an appeal for legal expenses and contribute ourselves.

This needs fighting.

tahir on Tue 08-Aug-06 16:31:50
Hope we see some kind of sane resolution to this, I'm an admin at , this will have a huge impact on all UK based forums. we're looking very closely at the issue of liability in relation to our site and would welcome dialogue with any other UK site that has concerns.


myfreeforum on Tue 08-Aug-06 18:01:43
We have 1000s of active forums on myfreeforum to which we could make an immediate appeal for support. So far we have only disseminated the information in our own support forums, as we don't want to jump the gun.
The admins here need to decide what to do, but even if they just want initial legal advice funding to help them figure out what to do, we are prepared to contribute on the basis of the advice being shared.
This issue is vitally important to forums and freedom of speech in general.

Damsella on Tue 08-Aug-06 21:09:09
I just want to add the support, financial if necessary, of

A lot of us are mums are we are horrified by this ridiculous legal situation.

If funds are required for a legal fight then I will set up an account for our members to contribute.

Power to the forums!!!!!

Jaysecond on Tue 08-Aug-06 21:27:20
I think before we set up a new thread, MNHQ need to know whats been going on and how much support there is for them, then they can decide which way forward is best appropriate for this situation. I do agree however that it needs more of our MN users to be involved, something which i am sure they would want!

My DH emailed MNHQ earlier offering the support of some non-parenting forums (reputable nonetheless!!) they replied thanking him and said they would bear it in mind. Seems like EVERYONE wants to do their bit.

Certainly if every MN'er donated £10, we would be well on the way to making a united stand. The power of people is not something to be messed with!!!

EmilyTurner on Wed 09-Aug-06 09:16:02

New here as I've been following the recent furore.

Just a quick note, as I know a few of you looked at what I wrote on my site yesterday, to say that I've updated. I got a top IT lawyer to comment on the case. Her points were interesting, if very sad for the internet community.

I wish you all well and I will follow with interest. Although in the UK, I post on a lot of US forums and I've been posting the updates over there too.


JustineMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 10-May-07 09:34:34

Good thinking Batman - Thanks we will.

MissGolightly Thu 10-May-07 09:43:17

How about starting a petition on the number ten website?

Cappuccino Thu 10-May-07 09:45:53

morningpaper where were you on Monday?

I was dying for you to turn up on my surrendered wives thread like a red frothing cloud of feminist anger and rain thunder and lightning down on us

but you weren't there. No fun

Cappuccino Thu 10-May-07 09:48:57

ok it may have been Tuesday (confused by Bank Holiday)

but still

morningpaper Thu 10-May-07 09:58:10

which thread is this? I missed it <grump>

Cappuccino Thu 10-May-07 11:13:23


JustineMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 10-May-07 18:18:51

Have blogged on libel law and freedom of speech issue here fyi.

WideWebWitch Thu 10-May-07 20:51:08

lol at Justine's explanation of politics

DimpledThighs Thu 10-May-07 20:55:49

second MissGolightly's motion of a petition.

fakeIDpoint Fri 11-May-07 14:56:46

This all seems a mess.
As I see it, misinformation not education.
Crying but not presenting a solution.

The UK law follows the EU Constitution (so VERY unlikely to be changed) in that in the UK we have freedom of speech. (Justine, you put "We would stress that we accept that individuals have a right to protect their reputations." in your statement).
The EU Constitution states that with freedom of speech comes duties and responsibilities. These include "the protection of the reputation or the rights of others".

That means somebody is potentially liable if the Mumsnet site has posts that are libelous.

If the law is changed, it would I imagine only move the liability (and repsonsability) from Mumsnet to the posters.

However, as the Mumsnet system requires no traceable proof of who you are. Could Mumsnet or their ISP still be sued for allowing their members to post illegal material in an anonymous way?

To prove the point I have only just created this profile called "fakeID" which uses a fake email address etc.

Justine, what do you actually suggest?
- that all Web sites or ISPs have to implement a way of people that use sites first prooving who they are before they can put their views on the Internet? That to me would be VERY anti freedom of speech.
- OR that people should be allowed to say what they want about others, even if it's not true, offensive, libelous etc. As that would be agains UK law and the European constitution.

Justine, I take you back to your point. If the ISP and Web site owners (you in the case of Mumsnet) aren't liable and users are anonymous, how would Gina or any other individual defend their "right to protect their reputations"


ellsybells Fri 11-May-07 14:58:34

Hi - I'm new to MN (and motherhood) so may not get this post right....however just wanted to add my two-pennyeth on lobbying ideas since I used to be in that line of work b4 DS arrived. You could try starting with an 'early day motion' with a friendly MP (maybe you already have one?) - this is a good way to raise the issue more widely in parliament as it then gets signed by more & more MPs each week (so you will have a better idea of how popular your issue is). This could ultimately lead to a Private Members Bill where you could change the law on libel without waiting ages for it to come up through the normal channels. I think the timeframe for these Bills is christmastime - but you would need legal assistance to draft it. I'm pretty sure you could find someone out there willing to do it pro bono (for free!). Hope this helps, let me know if I can do anything to help.

fakeIDpoint Fri 11-May-07 15:19:03

Hi ellsybells,

Yes, great plan.
But what would be suggested.
I've seen all the posts, the interviews etc. complaining about the current situation.
How about moving on to actually proposing what the solution would be.


bossykate Fri 11-May-07 15:23:24

fakeID - great points, which do seem to have passed many by here.

Whizzz Fri 11-May-07 15:31:44

sorry, I just read ellsybells post of "pretty sure you could find someone out there willing to do it pro bono " & thought you had suggested getting Bono to do it !

It's been a long week

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