Report: MPs to call for ban on companies suing for libel

MPs are set to call for a ban on businesses which employ more than 10 people suing for defamation, The Times reports today.

The paper today reports details of the Commons Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee’s long-awaited report into Press Standards, Privacy and Libel.

The report is set to be published on Wednesday, 24 February, at midnight. Embargoed copies are being made available to the press from 10.30am on Tuesday.

According to The Times, the report will defend the system of self regulation of the press under the Press Complaints Commission. But it will call for the watchdog to have touger powers.

The report is also set to reject calls led by Max Mosley for a new requirement that media organisations must notify people in advance if they are planning to publish information about their private life. Mosley has gone to the European Court in a bid to get this enshrined in European law.

The Times says that MPs will also recommend a ban on businesses with more than 10 employees suing for defamation.

Libel cases involving corporations can be among the most costly for news organisations to defend.

The Guardian was landed with a costs bill for £806,000 by lawyers Carter Ruck after it admitted making mistakes in its reporting of the tax affairs of Tesco. It is currently disputing this total.

In 2006, the Financial Times paid out £4.5m after reaching a settlement with stockbroker Collins Stewart over articles it published in 2003 which made allegations of management wrongdoing. The payout included total legal fees of £4.2m and damages of £300,000.

The report from MPs is also expected to look at the new allegations about phone-tapping at the News of the World which have been reported by The Guardian.

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