Defamation event to challenge the power “to silence those who disagree”



Campaign to reform defamation hold Scottish Parliament event for law reform 

MOVES TO REFORM defamation law will be the focus of a special event at the Scottish Parliament later this month. 

Campaign group Pen Scotland, which supports the interests of artists and free expression, will hold a campaign event hosted by Scottish Green MSP Andy Wightman on 27 June.

Defamation law in Scotland, which governs the civil right to charge an author or publisher with claims for damages, has remained unreformed in Scots law despite updates south of the border. 

With the internet age and increased expectations of transparency from both media outlets and powerful corporate interests, the Scottish Law Commission has been investigating possible changes to the law. 

In a high profile case, Wightman himself faces a defamation process at the Court of Session – which, if successful, would likely lead to his bankruptcy and removal from the Scottish Parliament. He then managed to crowd fund over £61,000 to meet high legal defence costs. 

Read more – Judge backs £50,000 deposit from land firm in court case against Andy Wightman MSP

The organisers, in a statement on the meeting, said: “Free expression in Scotland is threatened by out-of-date and inadequate defamation laws, allowing the rich and powerful to silence those who disagree with them. Join us to discuss how we can protect free expression, fight for reform and protect those speaking out.”

Speakers include Wightman, Paulo Quadros (a volunteer Facebook group moderator who is being suded relating to comments made online), Rosalind McInnes (BBC Scotland’s Principal Solicitor), and Angela Haggerty (CommonSpace editor and Sunday Herald Columnist).

Nik Williams, an organiser with Pen Scotland, added: “With two speakers present with defamation actions hanging over their head, this event at the Scottish Parliament, hosted by Andy Wightman MSP, will bring people together to discuss the need for reform to ensure free expression in Scotland is not held hostage by out-of-date and inadequate defamation laws. 

“We are delighted to have such a distinguished panel who can show what is at risk if we do nothing and what real reform looks like. Free expression underpins a vibrant democracy and we need to ensure our laws protect all who speak out, free from the threat of defamation actions aimed purely at silencing criticism.”

The event is free – but requires prior registration for tickets.

Picture courtesy of Scottish Pen

Check out what people are saying about how important CommonSpace is: Pledge your support today.