Libel laws probably are a bit too vicious in England (note, not Britain, but England and Wales). And yet:
Defamation law has a value – it protects people from having their reputations damaged by untrue claims. But it can also be exploited. Whatever the merits of these particular cases, the threat of litigation can be used to suppress the sort of writing that serves the public interest in knowing about how people come to accumulate and deploy the financial or political power that shapes our lives. This is a global problem, but London and its specialist law firms are very much its beating heart. Cases such as this, where the rich and powerful resort to the law to challenge journalists and publishers over what appear to be matters of public interest, should always give rise to concern, and there is a valid argument to make that time, and the legal process, should stop and take stock of the wider concerns this sort of litigation raises.
One way of reading that is that we should be allowed to tell lies about the rich because they’re the establishment, innit?
Which doesn’t really sound like the solution.