Press Release / April 26, 2013

UK Defamation Bill becomes law

Yesterday the Defamation Bill received Royal Assent and became the Defamation Act 2013, bringing much-needed changes to the UK’s libel laws. Until now, archaic and claimant-friendly laws have regularly been used by the rich and powerful to repress legitimate criticism and silence debate.

For the past three and a half years Global Witness has strongly backed the Libel Reform Campaign in challenging these antiquated laws to introduce stronger protections for free speech and public interest reporting.

“The passage of the Defamation Bill is a long overdue victory in the campaign to reform the UK’s outdated and repressive libel laws,” said Charmian Gooch. “This new Act significantly increases the ability of organisations to speak out in the public interest and take on vested interests which, until now, have been able to use the law to silence critics and crush freedom of speech.”

Global Witness would like to congratulate members of the Libel Reform Campaign – English PEN, Index on Censorship and Sense about Science – and everyone else involved for their relentless work to help create better protection for the work of campaigners, journalists and others who report in the public interest.

See the Libel Reform Campaign’s analysis of the new Act here.