This is an off-topic post largely for readers from the UK.
You may recall the unsuccessful libel cases brought against the writers Simon Singhand Ben Goldacre. The two writers are now something of a focal point for libel reform in the UK and since, in my own small way, I believe in pointing the finger at fakers I’m also happy to declare my support for their cause.
I’ve recently been sent the following email asking for a little financial aid for the libel reform group in their campaign, and it seems totally appropriate to broadcast it here.
Your help with the libel reform campaign over the last two weeks is amazing. A huge thank you to all of you who have responded to the call for funds from Simon Singh, Ben Goldacre and Peter Wilmshurst (read their appeal again here http://www.libelreform.org/news/470-a-letter-from-simon-singh-ben-goldacre-and-peter-wilmshurst-calling-for-support-for-libel-reform). It has so far added £23,474 to our campaign funds. Some wonderful messages of support have been left at www.JustGiving.com/libelreform.
The funds enabled us to press the case for reform to MPs with events at all three party conferences, including a well-attended panel with Justice Minister Lord McNally, who will be responsible for bringing forward the promised Government bill early in the new year, and made possible the distribution of a much-needed leaflet Reforming Libel: What must a Defamation Bill achieve? This explains that our libel laws afford minimal protection for reputation and it sets out what is needed to protect public debate from chilling threats: http://www.libelreform.org/news/471-reforming-libel-what-must-a-defamation-bill-achieve (PDF).
With support continuing to grow as many of you forward the fundraising call to friends and colleagues, we can start on the substantial task of ensuring that in the next few months the Government, MPs, commentators and officials are fully aware of the impact of the libel laws on many different areas of discussion and that these are not ignored by people who oppose reform.
We also need to keep up the pressure to act from other quarters. Do you know any organisations that should be signed up to the campaign but aren’t yet? If your organisation isn’t on this list http://www.libelreform.org/who-supports-us can you ask them to sign up? And let us know who they are and how you get on.