Judges in ‘intolerable position’ in libel row

Court case
Court case

The Executive’s refusal to extend the 2013 Defamation Act to Northern Ireland puts the Northern Ireland judiciary in an “almost intolerable” position, the House of Lords has been told.

Lord Bew also warned about the impact of “antediluvian” libel laws on academic freedom.

His sentiments were shared by Conservative peer Lord Lexden, who said the Executive’s failure to implement the reform was a “story of evasion and irresponsible delay”.

He said the Act was a “liberalising, modernising law, which will confer lasting benefits throughout society” and it was “wholly unjustifiable that the people of Northern Ireland should be excluded from the benefits and protections” of the law.

He said it would endanger jobs and create “confusion” about an area of law where there is a need for clarity.