English Pen launches libel inquiry

<p>English PEN has joined forces with fellow freedom of speech organisation Index on Censorship to launch a public inquiry into the UK&#39;s libel legislation. The two groups are calling upon publishers, writers, editors, journalists and lawyers to submit examples of restrictive UK laws being used &quot;and abused&quot; to &quot;stifle...and chill free expression of all kinds&quot;. They will host round-table discussions with the aim of leading to a major conference next spring.</p><p>One of the major issues the two groups wish to look at is libel tourism, in which something published outside of the UK is still subject to the laws of the land if read in the country.</p><p>Sir Geoffrey Bindman, a human rights lawyers, said: &quot;There is a difficult balance to be struck between freedom of expression and the protection of the innocent from damaging falsehoods and invasion of legitimate privacy. In Britain, the pendulum has swung too far towards censorship. This comprehensive review of the law by two highly respected organisations is therefore very welcome.&quot;</p><p>PEN and IoC said the inquiry coincided with &quot;increasing concern&quot; about the issue within the House of Commons, highlighting an investigation which has been launched by the Select Committee on Culture, Media and Sport. An adjournment debate, which has received cross-party support, has also been secured for 17th December in Westminster Hall.</p>