James Forsyth

The growing case for libel reform

The growing case for libel reform
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Policy Exchange’s work on Islamism has been some of the most important undertaken by a think-tank in recent years. It has influenced and bolstered the thinking of brave politicians in both the last government and the current one. That’s why it is so important that Policy Exchange came off best in the libel case brought against it by North London Central mosque.

The case is now over and the mosque has made, what Policy Exchange calls, ‘a substantial contribution’ towards the think tank’s costs. Policy Exchange has stated that it never meant to suggest that extremist literature was sold or distributed on the mosque’s grounds with the consent of the trustees or staff of the mosque. But, crucially, there is no apology and this statement appears to me to be compatible with the original report.

As Lord Bew argued in a superb recent speech in the House of Lords, our libel laws need to be rethought. Lord Lester’s libel reform effort is vital to this task. In the meantime, Policy Exchange deserves huge credit for not folding in this case. Those who believe in the need for rigorous debate and fearless research should applaud the think tank and its trustees.