Labour luvvies look to wreck libel law reform

Only a short time ago leading Labour politicians were eager to associate themselves publicly with the Libel Reform Campaign

Today, said Labour politicians, or at least those among them who sit in the House of Lords, threaten to sabotage libel law reform with a back door attempt to establish statutory regulation of the press by means of amendments to the defamation bill currently going through parliament. Two of the three Labour amendments refer to an arbitration service with legal powers, and exemplary damages against publications which either choose not to use the service, or do not seek advice from the press regulator before publishing stories that subsequently become the subject of complaints. Leveson with added stick, in other words.

The press regulation amendments were formally moved by film producer David Puttnam, and the upshot is that the government may scupper the bill in the House of Commons by not allowing time for further debate. This may in fact be its only option, short of picking a costly fight with the Lords and rebel MPs, and diverting resources away from other causes.