Ulster Unionist MLA Mike Nesbitt has introduced his Private Member’s Bill to reform the laws of Defamation in Northern Ireland. This completes an eight-year campaign and begins a legislative process he hopes will be completed before the end of this mandate in March 2022.
Mike Nesbitt said:
“This has been a long and tortuous road, starting with an attempt to copy the libel reforms in England and Wales passed by Westminster in 2013.
“First, there was the wait as the now defunct Law Commission produced a review, which did not complete until 2016. Then there was the three-year hiatus when the assembly did not meet. Finally, there was the hurdle of having to seek the Secretary of State’s permission to legislate on websites, which is a Reserved matter.
“With all those obstacles cleared, I was delighted to receive written confirmation from the Speaker that my Bill is competent.
“Within hours it was listed for its First Reading yesterday (Monday). I am grateful to Assembly officials for their help and guidance and look forward to reforming an area of law that will ensure a better balance between freedom of speech and the protection of reputations.”