Ministry of Justice
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Membership of the working group on libel announced

Justice Secretary Jack Straw has made a written ministerial statement on the working group on libel.

The Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice (Jack Straw):

In response to concerns about the possibility that our libel laws are having a chilling effect on freedom of expression, the government has set up a working group to examine issues relating to the substantive law on libel.

The terms of reference of this group are 'to consider whether the law of libel, including the law relating to libel tourism, in England and Wales needs reform, and if so to make recommendations as to solutions'. A list of members of the working group is attached.

The scope of the group's considerations will extend to all aspects of substantive libel law in England and Wales, but will exclude issues relating to costs in defamation proceedings, where work is already underway. The working group is intended to have an intensive, short term focus and has been requested to make recommendations by mid-March.

List of Members

  • David Banks (Media Law Consultant)
  • Sir Leszek Borysiewicz (Chief Executive of the Medical Research Council)
  • Tracey Brown (Managing Director, Sense About Science)
  • Desmond Browne QC (Barrister, 5 Raymond Buildings)
  • Rod Christie-Miller (Partner and Chief Executive at Schillings, Solicitors)
  • Robin Esser (Executive Managing Editor, Daily Mail)
  • Jo Glanville (Editor, Index on Censorship)
  • Jonathan Heawood (Director, English PEN)
  • Tony Jaffa (Head of the Media Team at Foot Anstey, Solicitors)
  • Sarah Jones (Head of Litigation and Intellectual Property, BBC)
  • Marcus Partington (Chair of Media Lawyers Association, and Legal Director, Mirror Group Newspapers)
  • Gillian Phillips (Director of Editorial Legal Services, The Guardian)
  • Gavin Phillipson (Professor at Durham Law School)
  • Mark Stephens (Partner at Stephens Finer Innocent, Solicitors)
  • Andrew Stephenson (Partner at Carter Ruck, Solicitors)
  • Paul Tweed (Senior Partner at Johnsons, Solicitors)
  • John Witherow (Editor, Sunday Times)

The working group will be chaired by Rowena Collins-Rice, Director-General, Democracy, Constitution and Law and Chief Legal Officer at the Ministry of Justice.

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