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FREEDOM OF SPEECH RULING HAILED BY ANTI CENSORSHIP CAMPAIGNERS

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Anti censorship campaigners welcomed yesterday's House of Lords' ruling that councils and government departments ha...
Anti censorship campaigners welcomed yesterday's House of Lords' ruling that councils and government departments have no right to threaten to bring libel actions, the Independent reports (p8).

The ruling brings England and Wales into line with other European countries that have constitutional guarantees of a free press.

Frances D'Souza, director of anti censorship body Article 19, said: 'We particularly welcome the assertion that there is, in UK law, a right to freedom of speech. Governments are elected by the people and should be criticised by the people'.

Derbyshire CC, which had sued the Sunday Times over articles alleging corrupt deals in 1989, faces legal bills of £100,000.

But Association of County Councils under secretary Clive Grenyer says in today's Times (p7): 'It remains necessary that local authorities are able to take some form of action where they are the subject of deliberate, deceitful and malicious falsehoods'.

The case is also reported by the Guardian (p6).

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