British Jews Disappointed at Government’s Failure to Recommend Group Libel Safeguards
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British Jews Disappointed at Government’s Failure to Recommend Group Libel Safeguards

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Jewish circles in Britain today expressed disappointment at the failure of the Lord Chancellor’s Committee on the Law of Defamation to suggest reforms to offer greater protection against group libel. The report of the committee, based on a seven-year investigation, was issued yesterday and rejected a proposal to extend the law of defamation to embrace “false statements vilifying groups or classes of persons distinguishable by race, color, creed or vocation or defamation of the dead or invasions of privacy by the press.”

Reuben Lieberman, chairman of the Law and Parliamentary Committee of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, today told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that the Lord Chancellor’s committee attitude toward the problem of group defamation “is really. putting minorities in the most difficult position.” He pointed out that the committee apparently realized that the problem was acute because it expressed its regret at its inability to take more effective measures against group libel because it felt that to do so would be to curtail free political discussion.

Lieberman also declared that the Board of Deputies, which espoused the cause of more stringent safeguards against group libel at committee hearings, cannot agree with the report’s suggestion that the present law on seditious libel affords sufficient protection. “The Count case–of an editor who was acquitted of seditious libel after publishing anti-Semitic articles–proves that it is not so. Efforts to obtain sufficient protection must obviously continue,” Lieberman concluded.

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