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Journalists Versus the Law

  • David Leigh
Chapter

Abstract

Journalists probing wrongdoing face muzzling laws, particularly in Britain. I collided with the law over jury-vetting, Harman, Thorpe, Ponting, and Spycatcher. Sometimes well-behaved journalists bring test cases instead, such as Felixstowe justices, Alvis, Sarah Tisdall—but with mixed results. Libel remains the biggest headache, despite some British reforms. The keys to survival are two concepts—“public interest” and “responsible journalism”, which demand well-crafted “libel letters”. Law firms such as Schillings and Carter-Ruck are often hired to intimidate journalists, without any real intention to sue. But there are specific techniques for dealing with them and also for gaining public support. Good relations with in-house lawyers are key. Sometimes, as with Interbrew and the HSBC Swiss bank leaks, non-legal stratagems also work.

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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • David Leigh
    • 1
  1. 1.City, University of LondonLondonUK

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