End the chill on free speech now: reform defamation in Scotland

25 April 2018

Today is the 5 year anniversary of the Defamation Act 2013 receiving royal assent.

Unfortunately, only England and Wales adopted all of the improvements to libel law included in the Act - Scotland enacted only a few and Northern Ireland none at all.

We now have an opportunity to press for reform in Scotland. The Scottish Law Commission have written and recommended a draft bill, and we need to put pressure on the Government to agree and adopt it.  

Scottish PEN are coordinating this campaign, and have said:

"Over 150 prominent Scottish writers including Ian Rankin, Karen Campbell and Christopher Brookmyre have written to the Scottish Government saying we shouldn’t have to wait any longer for that to happen.

You can send a letter to the Government too, click here.

The letter, drafted by Scottish PEN, is the latest intervention demonstrating that there is agreement across Scottish society and across the UK - from leading writers to academics, scientists, doctors and lawyers, as well as the BBC, Channel 4, Google and leading newspapers - that the current law needs reform.

Today we are asking our supporters in Scotland to please back the call for a new law by clicking here to sign the letter and send an email to your MSP.

If you don’t live in Scotland you can still sign the letter and we will send it on your behalf to Annabelle Ewing MSP, the Minister of Community Safety and Legal Affairs in the Scottish Government.

We have a programme of campaign activity planned for the next few months, to push for much needed reform in Scotland and Northern Ireland, so please watch this space for updates coming soon. 

Please join us today to impress upon the Scottish government that we’ve waited long enough."

The Society of Authors have signed the letter, and we will be supporting Scottish PEN’s campaign over the months ahead.