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Magazine of the Chartered Institute of Journalists

CIoJ welcomes government announcement on SLAPPs

Press Release
Release date: 22 July 2022

The Chartered Institute of Journalists welcomes the UK government’s announcement of proposed measures to curb the practice of ‘Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation’ which silences public interest investigative journalism.

Justice Secretary and Lord Chancellor Dominic Raab explained the plans will give courts the power to throw out baseless claims and provide a cap on costs to prevent expensive litigation being used as a weapon in libel and privacy disputes.

CIoJ President Michael Hardware said: “These proposals have been described as a measure to tackle the oligarchs supporting Russian President Vladimir Putin who have used English libel laws to intimidate and censor journalists and publishers.”

He said there “will be general benefits to the profession of journalism in Britain because SLAPPs have been used for decades to control public interest exposure of legitimate inquiry into abuses of power by all kinds of bodies and people, home and abroad.”

The Institute has submitted evidence to the Ministry of Justice consultations on human rights and SLAPPs reform in recent months with recommendations for improving the protection of freedom of expression and public interest journalism.

Mr Hardware says: “We hope the government will have time in the present Parliament to move ahead with legal reforms that will help protect journalism rights in the future.”

The Ministry of Justice proposes courts be given new powers to protect free speech and journalists’ rights; the introduction of a new three-part test to help spot and strike out meritless cases more quickly, and a costs cap to protect people from the threat of expensive legal battles.

See Ministry of Justice media release at: Crackdown on corrupt elites abusing UK legal system to silence critics

& the SLAPP Consultation outcome
Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation (SLAPPs): Government response to call for evidence 20th July 2022 at: https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/strategic-lawsuits-against-public-participation-slapps/outcome/strategic-lawsuits-against-public-participation-slapps-government-response-to-call-for-evidence

 

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