BA welcomes defamation proposal

BA welcomes defamation proposal

The Booksellers Association has welcomed a recommendation to reinstate booksellers with the defence of innocent dissemination in regards to the Defamation Bill.

The joint committee on the Draft Defamation Bill has suggested the government reinstate the defence which existed before 1996, and allowed booksellers to argue they had a reasonable belief defamatory material contained in a book was not libellous. Booksellers have not had this defence since the Defamation law was changed in 1996.

Tim Godfray, c.e.o of the BA, said: “We have been lobbying since 1997 to get Section 1 of the 1996 Act changed.  It is just so good to know that finally after all this time our recommendations have been acted upon.”

Under the current system, a claimant alleging they have been defamed by a passage in a book can effectively prevent the sale or distribution of that book by threatening the bookseller with legal proceedings if the book is not withdrawn.

Sydney Davies, the BA’s head of trade and industry, said: “If this recommendation of the joint committee is acted upon, booksellers will receive much better protection in the future. We are grateful not only to Lord Mawhinney and his joint committee for taking our points on board, but also for the support we received for our position from the Publishers Association and the Society of Authors”.