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Publishers 'should back defamation bill'

27th May 2010

The UK's publishers are being urged to add their voice to those lobbying for reform of the country's libel laws.

Liberal Democrat peer Lord Lester of Herne Hill has put forward a private member's defamation bill in the House of Lords to reform what he termed the 'archaic' libel laws in England and Wales.

Lord Lester claimed that the current system can have a 'chilling effect on freedom of expression' and suggested replacing the UK's rigid libel rules with a more flexible framework of principles.

Speaking to the Bookseller, English PEN director Jonathan Heawood said the publishing industry needs to lend its support to the bill between now and its second reading.

'Now there is a bill, there is something for people to get their teeth into and concerted lobbying would pay real dividends,' he commented.

Simon Juden, chief executive of the Publishers Association, also told the magazine that publishers should fight for freedom of expression, stressing that creativity is a keystone of the industry.

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