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We must urgently stop the rich from muzzling our Press through court action, MPs warn

  • Sir John Whittingdale urged the Government for a Bill preventing media silence
  • It comes after Tory MP Bob Seely proposed to make introducing Slapps harder
  • Slapps, or, strategic lawsuits against public participation, can muzzle the press

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New laws to prevent wealthy elites from using legal action to silence the media are urgently needed, a Tory former culture secretary has warned.

Sir John Whittingdale urged the Government to introduce a Bill ‘as fast as possible’ to guard against the actions known as strategic lawsuits against public participation (Slapps).

It comes after Tory MP Bob Seely tabled proposals to make it more difficult to introduce Slapps, which he said are designed to ‘silence the media, campaign groups or individuals’. 

He also criticised law firms for offering to be involved in the actions.

Ministers announced proposed reforms last July to give courts new powers to throw out meritless claims quicker and put a cap on costs, but they have not yet progressed in Parliament.

Sir John Whittingdale urged the Government to introduce a Bill ¿as fast as possible¿ to guard against the actions known as strategic lawsuits against public participation (Slapps)

Sir John Whittingdale urged the Government to introduce a Bill ‘as fast as possible’ to guard against the actions known as strategic lawsuits against public participation (Slapps)

In the Commons, Sir John urged Treasury minister James Cartlidge to bring the ‘legislation as fast as possible’. Mr Cartlidge said he ‘hears what he says’ adding: ‘Slapps are something where we do want to see progress.’

Mr Seely told MPs it had been ‘indicated’ to him that Slapps legislation could come in the long-awaited Bill of Rights.

Mr Seely told MPs it had been ‘indicated’ to him that Slapps legislation could come in the long-awaited Bill of Rights.

Tory MP Bob Seely tabled proposals to make it more difficult to introduce Slapps, which he said are designed to ¿silence the media, campaign groups or individuals¿

Tory MP Bob Seely tabled proposals to make it more difficult to introduce Slapps, which he said are designed to ‘silence the media, campaign groups or individuals’

He warned that if it is not a separate law it ‘may limit the scope that we can do with Slapps – so it may not cover all the stuff that it needs to cover the Slapps and, frankly, the lawyers who practise this, the “slappers”.’

In the Commons on Tuesday, Mr Seely – the Isle of Wight MP – said Slapps have ‘little legal worth’ but are designed to ‘silence the media, campaign groups or individuals by crippling them financially or wearing them down in endless lawsuits’.

Mr Seely criticised law firms for offering to be involved in the actions – branding them ‘unethical’, and warned that they risk becoming a ‘fifth column’.

Source: Daily Mail UK

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