NEWS: Defamation law changes

Lobbyist Ian Greer and former Government minister Neil Hamilton are to revive their libel action against the Guardian following Monday’s Commons vote in favour of a change to the law on defamation.

Lobbyist Ian Greer and former Government minister Neil Hamilton are to

revive their libel action against the Guardian following Monday’s

Commons vote in favour of a change to the law on defamation.



Members of Parliament voted by a majority of 63 to amend the Defamation

Bill in order to close a loophole in the Bill of Rights of 1689 which

prevented Greer and Hamilton from pursuing their case last year.



Hamilton resigned from his post as corporate affairs minister in October

1994 to fight ‘cash for questions’ allegations made by the newspaper

against him and Greer.



The Guardian alleged that Hamilton accepted a payment of pounds 2,000

from Harrods chairman Mohamed Al Fayed to ask questions on Harrods’

behalf.



Legal action was ‘stayed’ in July 1995 when the newspaper’s lawyers were

successful in arguing that the privileges conferred on MPs over what

they say or do in parliament made it impossible to mount a full defence.



The amendment to the law means that MPs will now be able to waive

parliamentary privilege in individual cases if they believe their

political reputation has been damaged.



‘Naturally I am absolutely delighted with the result as it enables me to

continue my libel action against the Guardian newspaper,’ said Hamilton.



‘Once the Defamation Bill receives Royal Assent I will immediately apply

to the High Court for the stay to be lifted and for the case to proceed

as quickly as possible,’ he added.



The bill is expected to receive assent within the next few weeks.



Greer is seeking special damages from the newspaper of over pounds 2

million for the harm he claims the allegations have caused IGA’s

business.



IGA itself lobbied MPs to vote in favour of the changes to the law.



‘We’re very pleased with the result,’ said Ian Greer Associates managing

director Andrew Smith.



‘We issued a writ at the time of the allegations - we were serious then

and we’re serious now. We will pursue it to the ‘nth’ degree.’



Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Register
Already registered?
Sign in

Would you like to post a comment?

Please Sign in or register.