There are all sorts of compaigns out there on the internet. People get upset about all sorts of stuff, create websites and bombard politicians with requests for support for multitudinous half-baked ideas.
Some are more worthy than others and one that I support is the Libel Reform campaign. I started getting interested in this while reading about Simon Singh‘s run-in with the British Chiropractic Association. The BCA decided to sue him because he wrote an article which said that some of the BCA’s claims were “bogus”. This was an opinion piece and the BCA have tried to silence him with an expensive lawsuit.
Unfortunately, the UK’s libel laws make it very easy for the people with the most money to stamp all over those seeking free speech. Simon Singh, like anyone else in the UK, shouldn’t expect the law to side mainly with those looking to limit freedom of expression:
English libel law imposes unnecessary and disproportionate restrictions on free speech, sending a chilling effect through the publishing and journalism sectors in the UK. This effect now reaches around the world, because of so-called ‘libel tourism’, where foreign cases are heard in London, widely known as a ‘town named sue’. The law was designed to serve the rich and powerful, and does not reflect the interests of a modern democratic society. [Libel Reform report]
Our libel laws are a joke and they’re limiting the discussion of science, politics, anything with commercial interests. It’s time that these archaic laws were sorted out and I whole-heartedly support the Libel Reform campaign.
I signed the pledge and emailed my MP, Nick Palmer, from the Libel Reform website. He always replies to emails but I was pleasantly surprised when he sent me a message saying that he hadn’t been very aware of this issue but having seen that it was supported by Sense About Science he was more than happy to support the Early Day Motion related to this campaign. It seems that my email has prompted him to do this. Result!
I’ve often been impressed with Nick as an MP. He’s a proponent of positive politics and normally refrains from trying to score political points. His expense claims seemed more than reasonable and he’s one of the more responsive MPs in parliament.
I’ll be voting for him at the next election for sure.