Dead may sue for libel in Scotland

Relatives and friends of the dead may be given the right to sue for libel under Scottish legal reforms.

Under current UK law, only the living can sue for attacks on their reputation. But yesterday the Scottish Government launched a consultation on a possible relaxation of the libel laws to give similar rights to families of the dead.

The consultation follows a campaign by Margaret and James Watson, parents of 16-year-old Diane Watson, who was stabbed to death 20 years ago at her school in Glasgow. The couple's other child, Alan, later took his own life at the age of 16 after reading an article which alleged that his sister had been a bully.

A spokesman for Scotland's Justice Department said the Government had no view on whether a change was desirable. "We will still be a very long way away from changing the law on this," he said. "These are sensitive issues, involving a careful balancing of rights, and we are determined to take care to ensure that they are addressed appropriately."