George Monbiot writes in today’s Guardian about the shame of our libel laws in the UK.
The Rath case highlights the basic injustice of such laws,
Rath, a German doctor, appears to have encouraged South Africans with HIV to stop using anti-retroviral drugs, and take his vitamin pills instead. Several of them died. It’s an important story, which shows journalists are of some use after all. But the Guardian stood to lose hundreds of thousands of pounds for having the impudence to publish it.
Simon Singh, one of Britain’s best science writers is being sued for daring to mention that chiropractors have little or no evidence that their mumbo jumbo works.
I too have had my fair share of threats from people like the Society of Homeopaths who cannot stand their deluded practices being criticised.
It requires a simple fix to get this right. The burden of proof needs to lie with the claimant. If you want to sue for libel you should have to show that the words were indeed libelous and are malicious and untrue.
Ask your MP where they stand on this issue. The government did promise to sort this mess out. Ask why this is not happening? As Monbiot concludes,
This autumn the English branch of PEN, which defends the freedom to write, will launch a campaign against our libel law. But where are the rest of you? Where are the petitions, the public protests, the lobbies of parliament? Why is this 13th-century law still permitted to stifle legitimate dissent? Wake up, Britain: your freedoms are disappearing into the pockets of barristers and billionaires.
You can find out details of your MP here: TheyWorkForYou.com. It only takes a quick email.