Petition for English Libel Law Reform with Dara O’Briain, Robin Ince & More

“England’s libel laws are unjust, against the public interest and internationally criticised — there is urgent need for reform.”

That’s the message that the Coalition for Libel Reform is delivering to Parliament tomorrow in the form of a petition signed by writers, performers, scientists, and other Brits concerned that their country is severely lagging behind other developed nations in protecting free speech. In fact, “libel tourism” is becoming a serious problem, as right now England’s archaic laws give wealthy foreigners the ability so sue other foreigners if so much as a single critical pamphlet is found in England.

We’ve talked a lot on Skepchick about Simon Singh’s ongoing libel trial in which he is boldly defending himself from the increasingly asinine British Chiropractors Association, but today marks an important moment in the fight. Sense About Science, the group that has done wonderful work advocating for protecting science from libel law, has joined forces with Index on Censorship and English Pen to up the pressure on British politicians. This is great news, as is the fact that they’re moving forward with a well-thought-out plan of attack that utilizes the awesome people who have supported this initiative so far, like Simon Singh, Richard Wiseman, Dara O’ Briain, Jonathan Ross, Stephen Fry, Ben Goldacre, Marcus Chown, Dave Gorman, Robin Ince, and many others.

I was able to chat with Dara, Marcus, and Robin, as well as John Kampfner, the CEO of Index on Censorship. Find the audio on the Skepchick iTunes feed, via the RSS, or listen through your browser: Dara O’Briain, Robin Ince, Marcus Chown on Libel Reform

Rebecca Watson

Rebecca is a writer, speaker, YouTube personality, and unrepentant science nerd. In addition to founding and continuing to run Skepchick, she hosts Quiz-o-Tron, a monthly science-themed quiz show and podcast that pits comedians against nerds. There is an asteroid named in her honor. Twitter @rebeccawatson Mastodon Instagram @actuallyrebeccawatson TikTok @actuallyrebeccawatson YouTube @rebeccawatson BlueSky

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  1. Changing UK liable laws will have a huge impact on many people way beyond the current issue of free speech and scientific/medical opinion. Hopefully it will allow more free speech about the harms of religion and religiously motivated crimes and intolerance. Hats off to all the UK skeptics who are fighting the good fight and making a real difference!!

  2. Since you’re now living in the UK and are thus vulnerable to british label laws, it’s probably worth mentioning that “asinine” in american english actually means “purple and gold and covered with a fine layer of soft, downy fur”. ;~)

  3. I spoke to a couple of folk at Skeptics in the Pub last Monday, and I was pleased to see there was such strong support for it – it’s a long overdue reformation, and is one of the few areas of the British Legal System that is seriously out of date.

    It’s also handy this is a cause that’ll be very, very strongly supported by the press…

    Oh, and I am rather jealous of you getting to meet Dara O’Briain, you lucky, lucky girl…

  4. Dara O’Briain is my kind of man. Too bad he’s married – to a Brit no less. Oh, well, love does strange things to people. (Kidding – I’m part Irish.)

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