Scotland and libel

In the wake of the Alisher Usmanov affair, bloggers have been talking a lot about British libel laws. I won’t write much about this, because I know as much about the law as an ass.

David Farrer wrote a letter to the First Minister noting that Scotland has a separate legal system. He suggests:

Scotland can gain a competitive advantage by introducing robust laws that protect freedom of speech for both individuals and companies.

Possibly not to do with libel, but I remember one strange instance from around ten years ago when, bizarrely, the only way to get access to a particular UK politics story was to watch Reporting Scotland. For several days, nobody knew the identity of the cabinet minister whose son had been caught in possession of cannabis.

Then one day (I can’t remember why, and my web search skills have failed me here too) Scottish newspapers began to write about it freely. That day Reporting Scotland carried the story that the person was Jack Straw’s son. This is despite the fact that the story was nothing to do with Scotland. Meanwhile the UK-wide news still had to skirt around the edges. A couple of days later the game was up and people in Englandandwales were allowed to publish the story as well.

This is interesting then. Perhaps one day we could find ourselves in a situation where webhosts based in Scotland will not feel under pressure when they are bullied by dodgy billionaires with pushy lawyers. British bloggers who are perhaps not so keen to sign up to a United States-based webhost may find they can get as much freedom of speech right here in Britain, just north of the border.

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