THE TELEGRAPH: This could be an extraordinary week for free speech in England. Long-overdue reform of libel law is on the cards at last. Lord Lester, the Liberal Democrat peer, is championing a private member’s Defamation Bill and in today’s Queen’s Speech the Government might even produce its own measure, since it is included in the coalition agreement.
Lord Lester’s Bill, due to be published tomorrow, is likely to be wide-ranging and will address many of the issues that concern journalists, authors, scientists and doctors. It will deal with the technological issues arising from the internet, such as the fact that each new download of an article refreshes the defamation, leaving the author open to a new libel writ. As the law stands, it is potentially risky to allow web access to archives that might contain something controversial