The United Kingdom, long a popular venue for libel suits that would fail under the stronger free speech protections of American law, is considering libel reforms that would create exceptions for public-interest reporting, bar multiple lawsuits arising from the same material and create new jurisdictional requirements, The Associated Press reported.
The Independent reported on Tuesday that Jack Straw, the Secretary of State for Justice and a member of Parliament, promised to revamp libel laws if the Labour party is still in power after the next election. The reforms would combat laws critics say have had a chilling effect on potentially important reporting and propose changes would make "responsible journalism" a libel defense. Straw said that the government intended to set out its proposals to prepare for a potential future bill in parliament.
American states like New York have laws to protect American citizens from so-called libel tourism. A federal law is currently before the U.S. Congress.