Ministers make U-turn on Defamation Bill

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Companies may be prevented from suing their critics for libel unless they can show that the comments caused them substantial financial harm, after a U-turn by ministers.

On Monday the Government announced that it intended to vote down amendments introduced in the House of Lords to their flagship Defamation Bill which would have prevented big companies “hounding” their critics with the threat of crippling libel fees.

But in the House of Commons the Justice Minister Helen Grant indicated that the Government had had a change of heart and would consider changing their views before the bill becomes law.

Senior Liberal Democrat sources claimed credit for the change. They said that the Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg had had discussions about the amendment with the Justice Secretary Chris Grayling. The two agreed that the Government would reconsider its decision.