English PEN and Index welcome possible libel reform

<p>English PEN and Index on Censorship have welcomed the announcement that the government is to set up a Libel Reform Working Group before the publication of the Culture Media and Sport Select Committee report on Press standards, privacy and libel, which is expected before Christmas. <br /><br />Lord Tunnicliffe announced the move at Lords Oral Questions on Tuesday (1st December). He also confirmed that the government will &quot;consider very carefully&quot; <a href="../news/102907-trade-backing-for-pens-libel-proposals.html" target="_blank">the recommendations made</a> in Index on Censorship and English PEN&rsquo;s report <em>Free Speech is Not for Sale</em>.</p><p>Jonathan Heawood, director of English PEN, said: &quot;We welcome the Working Party as a step towards a fully comprehensive Libel Reform Bill. We will launch a petition on 9th December and call upon voters who are concerned about the silencing of our writers, academics and scientists to sign our petition to keep politicians focused on this issue.&quot; </p><p>John Kampfner, chief executive of Index on Censorship, also welcomed the minister&#39;s statement: <br /> &quot;The Government&#39;s statement is welcomed on top of the warm words for our proposals. But this country really does need a Libel Reform Bill. When the UK&#39;s closest ally, the US, draws up laws to protect its citizens from our courts, something is clearly very wrong.&quot; </p><p>Index on Censorship, English PEN and Sense About Science will launch the national petition for Libel Reform on 9th December on their coalition website, www.libelreform.org.</p><p><br /><br /><br /> </p>