19 March 2012
Govt 'considering libel law changes for academics'
Reforms could be made to Britain's system of libel in order for academics and scientists to be provided with greater legal protection, it has emerged.
According to the Independent, justice secretary Ken Clarke - who is also MP for Rushcliffe - is considering the possibility of making changes to the country's legislation.
During a parliamentary joint committee held to examine the draft Defamation Bill, Mr Clarke suggested that articles published in peer-reviewed journals could be made exempt from such legal action.
The minister feels that scientific debate is currently being "stifled" by the fear many professionals have of being sued for libel, meaning some alterations to the rules may be worthwhile.
Julian Huppert, a member of the Liberal Democrats who was also involved in the meeting, raised the issue that unless an article can be proven to be "maliciously false", the author should be "protected" from libel action and Mr Clarke said this would indeed form part of his proposals before the final draft of the bill is passed.
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Posted by Chris Stevenson