EKKLESIA has made a submission to the Scottish Parliament’s Citizen Participation and Public Petitions Committee in support of a petition by former MP Roger Mullin calling for reform of the law relating to Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation (SLAPPs).
SLAPP stands for ‘Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation’. A SLAPP is a tactic by which a rich oligarch or shadowy corporation, wanting to suppress a news story, or silence a researcher or investigative journalist, will threaten costly legal action unless the journalist, researcher or media outlet concerned agrees not to publish what it knows.
You can read Ekklesia’s full submission here (.*PDF format), along with a number of others. The parliamentary committee is due to consider the matter on the morning of Wednesday 18 February, and the petitioner and suppliers of written evidence hope that the issue will then proceed to oral evidence.
Our director, Simon Barrow, told The National newspaper: “We very much hope the full Scottish Parliament will discuss SLAPPs, and reach a cross-party agreement to take action.
“There is an urgent ethical and democratic need to stop the egregious misuse of legal processes to stifle investigative journalism, suppress open debate on abuses of wealth and power, and silence legitimate criticism of corporate interests.
“With measures against SLAPPs being considered at Westminster for England and Wales, it is even more important that Scotland protects itself from becoming the residual target of gratuitous libel tourism within these islands.”
Ekklesia is mentioned in this helpful background article in The National. We will be commenting further after Scottish Parliament’s Citizen Participation and Public Petitions Committee has met.
UPDATE: We are pleased to say that the committee unanimously agreed to progress the issue by writing to the Scottish government and others in the first instance, seeking a detailed response, and inviting the possibility of holding an oral evidence session thereafter. More to follow.