HomeInsightsMedia coalition calls on Government to back anti-SLAPP protections to defend media freedom


The News Media Association reports that a model anti-SLAPP law, drafted in consultation with leading media lawyers and industry experts on behalf of the UK Anti-SLAPP Coalition and supported by over 70 leading editors, lawyers, publishers, journalists and press freedom organisations including the News Media Association, has been sent to Justice Secretary Dominic Raab. The model law outlines how best the Government can make good on its commitment made in July 2022 to reform the law to introduce robust anti-SLAPP measures and protect those holding the powerful to account.

Signatories to the letter calling on the Government to put forward legislation in line with the model UK Anti-SLAPP Law include senior editors from leading UK newspapers and media outlets, including Paul Dacre, editor-in-chief of dmg media; Katharine Viner, editor-in-chief of The Guardian; Alison Phillips, editor of The Mirror; Ted Verity, editor of The Daily Mail; Chris Evans, editor of The Telegraph; Tony Gallagher, editor of The Times; Emma Tucker, editor of The Sunday Times; Victoria Newton, editor-in-chief of The Sun; Roula Khalaf, editor of the Financial Times; John Micklethwait, editor-in-chief of Bloomberg News and Alessandra Galloni, editor-in-chief of Reuters News Agency. Other signatories include prominent journalists, publishers, lawyers and experts.

The coalition says that high-profile cases, such as those targeting Catherine Belton, Tom Burgis, Elliot Higgins, and more recently openDemocracy and The Bureau of Investigative Journalism, are just the most visible manifestation of a much broader problem which has affected newspapers across Fleet Street and the wider UK media industry for many years. The model law addresses this problem by including important amendments to the Ministry of Justice’s framework, such as: (i) a robust filter mechanism that empowers courts to swiftly dispose of SLAPPs; (ii) penalties that are sufficient to deter the use of SLAPPs and provide full compensation to those targeted; and (iii) protective measures for SLAPP victims including cost protections and other important safeguards.

Wiggin’s very own Caroline Kean, consultant partner, commented to NMA: “SLAPPs are an abuse of the UK legal system. Having defended journalists, broadcasters and publishers from SLAPPs brought by those seeking to escape accountability and scrutiny, we need to make sure the law works for everyone, not just those with the money and power to intimidate those who seek to expose suspected wrongdoing from defending themselves and to force others to refrain from publishing at all. The model law will give the court the power it needs to protect those who work to hold the powerful to account and deter those who seek to bully them into silence.” To read the NMA’s report in full, click here.