Simon Singh, the science author and TV producer, has recently triumphed in his battle with the British Chiropractic Association. They sued him for libel when he claimed, truthfully, that some chiropractors promote "bogus treatments". English libel law is such that the fight could easily have cost him millions, but in the end he won the right to use the defense of fair comment and the BCA dropped the case. Things might not have turned out so well for Singh and for other critical scientists or writers - even if they are telling the truth. The case highlighted - again - the oppressive nature of English libel law.
This week is the first anniversary of the report Free Speech is Not for Sale, which highlighted the problems with English libel law. In short, the law is extremely hostile to writers, while being unreasonably friendly towards powerful corporations and individuals who want to silence critics.
The English libel law is particularly dangerous for bloggers, who are generally not backed by publishers, and who can end up being sued in London regardless of where the blog was posted. The internet allows bloggers to reach a global audience, but it also allows the High Court in London to have a global reach.
You can read more about the peculiar and grossly unfair nature of English libel law at the website of the Libel Reform Campaign. You will see that the campaign is not calling for the removal of libel law, but for a libel law that is fair and which would allow writers a reasonable opportunity to express their opinion and then defend it.
The good news is that the British Government has made a commitment to draft a bill that will reform libel, but it is essential that bloggers and their readers send a strong signal to politicians so that they follow through on this promise. You can do this by joining me and over 50,000 others who have signed the libel reform petition at
Remember, you can sign the petition whatever your nationality and wherever you live. Indeed, signatories from overseas remind British politicians that the English libel law is out of step with the rest of the free world.
If you have already signed the petition, then please encourage friends, family and colleagues to sign up. Moreover, if you have your own blog, you can join hundreds of other bloggers by posting this blog on your own site. There is a real chance that bloggers could help change the most censorious libel law in the democratic world.