British libel laws isolating UK

Before creating Autonomous Mind I read an article in The Times that reported American newspapers and magazines may stop selling copies in Britain and block access to their websites because of our draconian libel laws.  This was not only disturbing, but annoying on a personal level because having a strong interest in US current affairs and sport, many of the newspapers considering such action are on my reading list, including The New York Times, The Boston Globe and the Los Angeles Times.

But while those papers still consider their next move, An Englishman’s Castle blog tells us that US magazine, the National Enquirer, has already taken action and blocked online access to web users in the UK in an attempt to prevent possible libel actions being brought in London.  We have now set off down a slippery slope where our laws are damaging our ability to gather news and information from around the world.

It is both ironic and embarrassing that largely because of this country’s archaic much abused libel laws that are in desperate need of reform, other states are being forced to take action to pass their own laws that render claims under foreign libel suits unenforceable.  California recently became the fourth US state to pass such legislation because while American courts allow the press to make mistakes as long as they have exercised due diligence and shown no harmful intent, our system can make the press pay a harsh penalty for even unintentional and corrected errors.

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