In the fight against companies and individuals using legal threats to silence critics, charity Sense About Science is beefing up its campaign to reform the UK's ill-constructed libel laws.
This is an exciting time to talk to you about libel law reform.
As many of you know, Simon Singh's libel case was back at the Court of Appeal where he was granted permission to appeal. While the best possible result, there is a long way to go; the appeal will be in February 2010. (More at: http://jackofkent.blogspot.com/2009/10/permission-granted.html and http://www.senseaboutscience.org.uk/index.php/site/project/409 ). Tomorrow, 10th November, Index on Censorship and EnglishPEN will publish the much-awaited 'Free Speech Is Not For Sale' report. The report will contain evidence gathered from interviews with journalists, editors and writers about the impact of libel laws on free expression and ideas on how to reform the laws in favour of the public interest. We hope that many of you will write about it and that everyone will read it at www.libelreform.org.
Our campaign to keep libel laws out of science, which you have done so much to build, is now going to join with Index on Censorship and EnglishPEN to push for libel law reform, particularly for a wider, more accessible public interest defence. You have helped us to get this far. Now we face a unique opportunity to do something great to press for reform so that others do not find themselves hauled through the courts, whether they are journalists, authors, academics or bloggers. The development of manifesto pledges in the run up to the 2010 elections is a unique opportunity. With the help of some of you, we made a good start at the Liberal Democrat party conference. Now we are meeting with ministers, front benchers and their advisors to make sure that everyone involved in writing manifestos understands why the libel laws of England and Wales are unfair, against the public interest and internationally criticised.
To make this happen we are going to:
- Oganise national campaign events and make sure the campaign has a huge public presence at conferences and festivals.
- Organise advertising and materials for us and for you to promote the campaign.
- Meet with and brief supporters of the campaign.
- Meet politicians and advisors to put the case for libel reform.
We will need your involvement in many things, from petitioning to publicity. Right now, to take this step, we need to raise a fund. If everyone who supported our Keep Libel Laws out of Science statement donated on average Â£10 before the end of November, we, with Index on Censorship and EnglishPEN, could underwrite the national campaign that is needed and the activities above. For more information on how to donate go to www.senseaboutscience.org.uk/index.php/site/project/423
Click here to find out how: www.justgiving.com/bookfund
Keep updated on the fundraising progress on our website. Please do all you can to help.
Very best wishes
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