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On the 15th of March 2011, the Government published the Draft Defamation Bill and a consultation paper (which included questions on a number of issues which were not included in the Bill itself). The consultation will remain open until 10 June 2011 and a Government response is promised by autumn 2011.
The draft Bill was the Government's response to a number of complaints that had been raised around the defamation laws in England and Wales. The consultation paper noted that "there has been mounting concern over the past few years that our defamation laws are not striking the right balance, but rather having a chilling effect on freedom of speech". It also acknowledged worries that the threat of libel proceedings might be used to frustrate robust scientific and academic debate or to impede responsible investigative journalism.


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