Nathalie Rothchild writes:
The Index on Censorship and English PEN campaign, Free Speech Is Not For Sale, has helpfully and correctly identified some of the most severe problems with the libel laws. For instance, it explains: ‘The English approach to libel suggests that the reputation of the claimant is more important than the free speech of the defendant…
It is also an anomaly in English law, where defendants are usually presumed innocent until proven guilty.’ Indeed, in libel cases, the onus is on the defendant to prove that his or her statement was either true, a ‘fair comment’ or in the public interest.
It is this fundamental travesty of natural justice and curbs on free speech that need to be done away with. Although libel tourism is a real problem, clamping down on it will only represent a scraping away at the edges of the libel system; it would still leave English people at the mercy of the Kafkaesque libel courts.