By Nick Cohen
I have never advised anyone to use the English libel laws. I spent years helping the campaign to reform them, and am proud of the liberalisation I and many, many others helped bring. I have to admit, though, our achievement was modest.
Libel in England remains sinister in intent – the defendant has to prove he or she was telling the truth – and oppressive in practice. Parliament and the asinine Leveson inquiry into the press failed to tackle the horrendous costs, and kept libel as the preserve of the rich and the reckless. You can risk spending £1 million before a case comes to court. Despite reform, libel courts remain the place oligarchs and charlatans go to suppress the truth.
Last night, however, I found myself advising the anti-fascist campaigner Maajid Nawaz to sue in the London courts. I even gave him the names of lawyers who would be happy to help. The attack he is facing is so grotesque, ferocious remedies seem the only response.
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