This conference hosted by Index on Censorship, the University of Glasgow and Justice for Journalists Foundation will bring together lawyers, journalists, experts and campaigners to learn more about the SLAPPs landscape in Scotland, identify the gaps in Scots Law and explore what we can do to protect Scotland’s courts from abuse.
It will also feature a keynote presentation from Paul Radu, the co-founder of the Organised Crime & Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP), which has reported widely on the impact of corruption and abuses of power on democracies across the globe. As a result, they have been threatened numerous times, including in London, where Radu himself had to defend himself against a sitting Azerbaijani MP. He will talk about how this has impacted his team’s work, as well as the innovative ways public watchdogs can protect themselves.
Also joining us will also be a number of people targeted in Scotland, including an anti-fish farm campaigner who has been prevented from scrutinising fish farms off the coast of Scotland by an interdict secured by a multinational company and a former MSP who was sued for writing about the claims made by a conservation project.
We hope you will join this session that looks to ensure Scotland has the protections in place to ensure all public interest speech is protected. Only by moving against SLAPPs can we ensure Scotland values and protects free expression for everyone who speaks out.
This event will also be live-streamed and available to join online (select Online attendance ticket type if wishing to join remotely)
Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation (SLAPPs) poison the groundwater for all free expression. They can be used to threaten anyone who speaks out with legal action aimed at draining resources, time and the ability to work. For too long Courts in London have enabled oligarchs and others to shut down critical speech. Even a sanctioned warlord and a Russian oil and gas company were able to use British courts to threaten journalists and writers. But this is not isolated to England. Whether a blog forced to take down their entire website due to threats from a former oil company CEO, a volunteer Facebook group moderator having a defamation threat hanging over his head for seven years, or a writer receiving a legal letter from a Scottish law firm demanding that he pulls his book from the shelves due to his reporting on the vice-president of Angola, Scotland is not immune.
Slowly the UK Government has started to act and this mirrors progress by the Council of Europe and the European Commission to ensure England, Wales and the rest of Europe shuts their doors to SLAPPs. However, Scotland and the Scottish Government have been silent on this issue. This could fly a flag to those seeking to silence their critics that the country is open for their business shutting down public interest speech.