Parliament Matters

Defending free speech from SLAPPs: MP Wayne David on his Private Member's Bill

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Episode notes

Wayne David's groundbreaking Private Member's Bill aimed at thwarting Strategic Litigation Against Public Participation (SLAPPs) may be the most significant Private Member’s Bill to emerge from this final year of the current Parliament. But is there enough time to get this measure into law before the general election?

 We talk to Wayne David about the genesis of this crucial legislation, from exposing the abuse of legal systems by affluent individuals to building bipartisan support in Parliament. From government whips’ suggestions to committee negotiations, Wayne sheds light on the intricate parliamentary journey behind this legislative change.

 We delve into the intricacies of SLAPP tactics and the threat they pose to freedom of speech and our democratic values. We discuss how the Bill would empower judges to tackle abusive litigation, protecting individuals – from journalists to tenants - from financial ruin in the face of baseless legal threats.

 But challenges await the Bill at Committee stage and the looming spectre of a general election may yet disrupt its progress. Despite this Wayne David remains optimistic about the Bill’s prospects given the cross-party alliance behind the Bill and the support of both frontbenches in the House of Commons. 

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Parliament Matters is a Hansard Society production supported by the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust

Producer: Richard Townsend

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