Freedom of Speech and Libel Reform

Any of you who regularly visit WordPress will probably be aware of their support for the 1 for All campaign, which aims to raise awareness of the First Amendment to the US Constitution. One of its aims is to protect their right of Freedom of Speech, a human right recognised by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Here in the UK, this is upheld in the Human Rights Act 1998. Well, within limits. We have restrictions against things that incite racial hatred, and the Terrorism Act 2000 includes restrictions on the keeping of “information of a kind likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism”. Some of it I agree with, particularly the racial hatred things. However, some of it seems open to misuse.

Once example I can think of is our libel laws. As made well-known by journalist Simon Singh, our laws make defending against libel suits extremely difficult. The defence can cost thousands or millions of pounds, money that the defendant may not get back, even if they succeed. If someone decided to sue me, I probably couldn’t afford to put up a defence. I’d hate to have to cave in if I was in the right, but I might not have a choice.

This has to change.

The Libel Reform Campaign is working towards this change. They are running a petition to implement a bill that changes these laws, helping to protect the defendant. It will hopefully discourage individuals being persecuted for writing what they believe is the truth.

I signed this petition (under my real name, of cause), and I strongly encourage you to do so as well. People are now taking notice. Now we just need them to make changes.

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About The WalkingPlasterDispenser

So who is the Walking Plaster Dispenser? Well, I'm a volunteer First Aider, working with a well-known First Aid charity to help out random people I've never met before (or, more usually, when) they hurt themselves. This typically involves walking briskly (never run...) around after people who are silly enough to do sports or some other suitably daft activity in their free time. In my spare time, I am a graduate engineer, working my way through a graduate scheme with a big engineering company.

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