There's a growing movement to reform the UK libel laws, which are regarded internationally as unjust, stifling of debate and cripplingly expensive for the person accused. You can read the full background here. This morning, campaigners including Dara O'Briain, Robin Ince, Alexi Sayle, Nick Ross and many others gathered at the Law Society on Chancery Lane to launch a petition to make changes to these laws.
Alexi Sayle commented that he'd previously been sued for libel, joking that "it would've been cheaper to stab the f*cker." Author and broadcaster Nick Ross described the current set-up as "All about bullying - it must be stopped." Dara O'Briain, who was the first to sign, quipped that he "used to run a lucrative libel tourism agency", a reference to the practice of foreign claimants bringing their cases to London to take advantage of our lax laws. (All quotes taken from Twitter.)
The new Campaign for Libel Reform brings together three organisations who have been separately lobbying for change. Sense About Science are most noted for their 'Keep Libel Laws Out Of Science' campaign, sparked by the recent action against author Simon Singh, who dared to question the authenticity of chiropractic medicine. The movement is also backed by both English PEN and the Index on Censorship.