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Libel Law

Volume 511: debated on Tuesday 15 June 2010

We are committed to reviewing the law on defamation to protect free speech, and are currently considering the issues involved. In that context, Lord McNally yesterday met Lord Lester of Herne Hill to discuss his private Member’s Bill on the subject, which was recently introduced in another place.

I am sure the Minister is aware of the case of Dr Simon Singh, who was famously sued by the British Chiropractic Association for his research. Although the case was unsuccessful, Mr Singh will recover only 70 per cent. of his £200,000 legal costs. Will the Government support Lord Lester’s private Member’s Bill to reform our libel system, which at present stifles scientific research?

We are considering Lord Lester’s private Member’s Bill. The issues involved in it are complex and of great breadth, so we will look at it carefully and respond at a later date.