Open justice consultation: Attention anti democrats who refuse to believe in open government

SLAPP legal protections to be added to Economic Crime Bill

An amendment offering specific protections in law for journalists and individuals at risk of being targeted by Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation (SLAPPs) is to be added to the Economic Crime Bill today (13 June 2023), it has been announced.

The government-backed amendment, focusing on economic crime, would make it harder for the rich and powerful to attempt to intimidate and silence critics through time-consuming and costly litigation and will include an early-dismissal mechanism.

Responding to the announcement, the Society has described the amendment as “a welcome and significant first step” in tackling SLAPPs but further protections and penalties are needed to deter the use of SLAPPs as an attractive vehicle for harassment.

Bill Heaney, editor of The Democrat, said: “This is another measure to which organisations such as West Dunbartonshire Council, who have restricted our coverage of public affairs in Dumbarton, should pay close attention.”

Bill Heaney is a Life Member of both the NUJ and the GMB trade unions and of the Society of Editors.

He has won many journalistic awards and was Scotland’s Weekly Newspaper Journalist of the Year three times and came second in the UK-wide Columnist of the Year competition.

Councillors in Dumbarton – both SNP and Labour – do not consider him to be a fit person to cover their meetings and refuse to recognise his credentials as a journalist.

Caricature by Stevie Conroy

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