Media Law Prof Blog

Editor: Christine A. Corcos
Louisiana State Univ.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The New Reach of British Libel Law

George Monbiot comments on the expansion of the British libel law in a column for the Guardian here. Says Mr. Monbiot in part, "On the website of Craig Murray, the former British ambassador to Uzbekistan, you can read a letter his publishers have received from the law firm Schillings. It contains something I have never seen before: a threatened injunction against a book they haven't read and that won't be published until September. Acting on behalf of the "private security contractor" Tim Spicer, Schillings gave the publishers three days (the deadline was last Friday) to guarantee that the book does not defame its client, or face "an injunction to restrain publication". No publisher can afford to ignore a letter like this. Though libel is a civil rather than a criminal matter in this country, the consequences can be much graver than most criminal convictions. I would rather go to prison for a few weeks for committing a crime than spend five years fighting a libel case, then lose my house and my savings. It is better to be caught mugging than to be caught speaking freely."

Here's a link to Mr. Murray's website and the letter to which Mr. Monbiot refers.

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