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Lords Communications Committee to take evidence from the regulator and industry figures on the use of lawfare to silence critics

Thursday 19 January 2023

The House of Lords Communications Committee will next week take evidence on Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation (SLAPPs).

SLAPPs are used to bring or threaten legal proceedings against journalists, academics and others to silence criticism and discourage scrutiny of individuals or organisations that may be in the public interest. The Committee has raised serious concerns around the use of SLAPPs and has previously written to the Lord Chancellor to call for action.

The Committee is holding next week’s session to examine the adequacy of the Government’s legislative proposals; investigate practical measures to support those facing SLAPP cases in the meantime; and hold the regulator to account.

The Committee will hold two evidence sessions on Tuesday 24 January in Committee Room 4 of the House of Lords. Giving evidence to the Committee will be:

2:30pm

  • Susan Coughtrie, Director at the Foreign Policy Centre
  • Catrin Evans KC
  • Michelle Stanistreet, General Secretary at the National Union of Journalists

3:30pm

  • Paul Philip, Chief Executive Officer at the Solicitors Regulation Authority

Areas the session is likely to cover include:

  • How far the Government’s proposals to deal with SLAPPs will be effective.
  • Further non-legislative options to deter SLAPPs and support those facing SLAPP cases (such as expanded legal support, or greater publicity around wrongdoing).
  • The adequacy of the Solicitors Regulation Authority’s response to SLAPPs.
  • Allegations that solicitors are receiving laundered money to fund SLAPP cases and how this should be addressed.

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