Political

Libel reform bill set for spring publication by government

The Press Gazette reports more progress for the campaign to reform our libel laws with details of the government’s planned timings:

A newly published Ministry of Justice Structural Reform Plan shows that developing options for reform is expected to take from June this year until March next year.

The plan gives as a milestone the publication next March of a “draft Defamation Bill for the reform of libel laws published for pre-legislative scrutiny”.

But it gives no indication of a timetable for the introduction or passage of the actual legislation…

The Government announced on 9 July, towards the end of the second reading debate on the Defamation Bill introduced into the House of Lords by Lord Lester of Herne Hill QC, that it would reform the libel laws to provide a “fair balance” between freedom of expression and protection of reputation.

Justice Minister Lord McNally said there would be a wide-ranging consultation exercise over the summer with publication of a draft Bill early in the new year.

This was not a “vague promise” but a “firm commitment to act on this matter”, he told peers.

The move would give ministers a “strong case for making time in the 2011-12 legislative programme for a substantive Bill”, Lord McNally said.

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