Ministers have said they are to reviews the laws of libel with the aim of bolstering freedom of expression and the integrity of academic research.
Justice Minister Lord McNally said the coalition would publish a draft bill for consultation early next year. The Conservatives and Lib Dems included a commitment to reform the laws on libel and defamation in their coalition agreement in May.
Debating a private member’s bill on the issue in the Lords, Lib Dem peer Lord McNally said ministers intended to bring forward legislation of their own next year: Freedom of speech is the foundation of democracy
We need investigative journalism and scientific research to be able to flourish without the fear of unfounded, lengthy and costly defamation and libel cases being brought against them.
We are committed to reforming the law on defamation and want to focus on ensuring that a right and a fair balance is struck between freedom of expression and the protection of reputation.
The Index of Censorship said changes were needed to help foster academic debate and should not be seen as a licence for the media to publish what they liked. We are absolutely delighted about this but obviously there is a long way to go, said its editor Jo Glanville: There will be consultations and nobody knows what this will end up looking like. But it is a real triumph.