Defamation Reform

The overall aim of the campaign is to update and reform defamation law so that it:
* Accurately reflects the modern media landscape, offering effective protection for freedom of expression
* Ensures reputations can be protected in a manner available to everyone, not solely the rich and powerful
* Provides safeguards for individuals from companies or those with powerful interests seeking to silence reasonable criticism and comment

As a partner in the Libel Reform Campaign, Scottish PEN is working with a range of partners to reform defamation law in Scotland. The existing legislation severely undermines freedom of expression, limiting the ability of media outlets, bloggers, social media users and civil society to share information in the public interest. The ability for the powerful to chill free speech demonstrates a challenge to Scotland’s ongoing commitment to protecting fundamental freedoms.

The overall aim of the campaign is to update and reform defamation law so that it:

Specific points we see as essential to the reformed law include:


Have you ever defamed someone?

Defamation laws do not only affect journalists, they can chill free speech for everyone. Check out this Buzzfeed quiz to find out which day-to-day activities could land you in hot water!

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Scottish Law Commission

As part of its ninth Schedule of reform the Scottish Law Commission is seeking to reform defamation law in Scotland. As part of the Libel Reform Campaign, Scottish PEN, alongside English PEN and Sense About Science drafted a submission to help shape the reformed law.

Click to read it here.



National Collective

During the Indy Referendum, National Collective ran a story about the donations made to the Better Together campaign by Ian Taylor, the CEO & Chairman of oil company, Vitol. The piece, in response to an explanation for the donation published in the Sunday Herald by Taylor, reported on the company’s corporate history. As a result National Collective received a legal letter accusing them of defamation, and threatening legal action if they did not remove the article immediately, publish an apology and agree to never to publish the material again. The severity of the threat required the site to be taken offline and follow up pieces in The Sunday Herald and other pro-independence publications also received legal threats.

Click here to find out more.


A Facebook group for the town of Strathaven has become embroiled in a defamation action in relation to the sale of a council building in the town. With details of the sale unknown, residents took to the Facebook group to discuss and share ideas as to the identity of the buyer. Moderated by local activist, Paulo Quadros, the group drew the attention of a local building developer who asked for the content to be removed. After attempts at resolution and a disturbance in a local clinic related to the Facebook group, Quadros was served with a writ of action in relation to defamation action, both for the comments made on the Facebook group and for the contents of an email sent by Quadros.

Click here to find out more.