Comedians boost libel reform with benefit gig

Writers, comedians and scientists are to take to the stage in London next month to raise money for the Libel Reform Campaign.

The campaign was launched in December and has so far attracted 27,000 signatures to a petition which urges politicians to “support a bill for major reforms of the English libel laws”.

The petition states that the UK has the most expensive libel system in Europe and warns that the law is “so biased towards claimants and so hostile to writers that London has become known as the libel capital off the world”, where the rich bring cases on “the flimsiest grounds”.

The Big Libel Gig will, according to the campaign, feature “some of the biggest names in UK comedy, science and human rights”.

It is being held at the Palace Theatre in London from 7.30pm on Sunday, 14 March.

Those appearing include: Dara Ó Briain, Robin Ince, Tim Minchin, Shappi Khorsandi, Marcus Brigstocke, Ed Byrne, Professor Brian Cox and Professor Richard Wiseman.

Doctors Ben Goldacre, Simon Singh and Peter Wilmshurst, will also be appearing on stage to explain how the libel laws have hit them personally and compromised their work.

The gig is being organised by Index on Censorship, English PEN and Sense About Science – the three bodies behind the Libel Reform Campaign. Tickets are from £17.50 to £40.

The Ministry of Justice is currently carrying out a fast-track consultation on cutting the controversial success fees charged by lawyers in libel cases from a maximum of 100 per cent to 10 per cent.

So far 197 MPs have signed the campaign’s Early Day Motion calling for libel reform.

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