Wednesday 25 April 2018

Spin the wheel - or reform libel lottery to protect society

Journalists should be protected by the law and not cowed into silence by it for fear of being sued, writes Willie Kealy

Radical solution: High-profile libel cases include that of Monica Leech. Photo: Collins
Radical solution: High-profile libel cases include that of Monica Leech. Photo: Collins
Willie Kealy

Willie Kealy

I have a solution to the problem of libel for newspaper publishers and others in similar positions of responsibility in the media - establish the Wheel of Defamation.

It would work like this. If someone sues for libel and the publishers' lawyers reckon the plaintiff has a 50pc or better chance of success, they should be invited to spin the wheel which will offer the possibility of cash amounts ranging from €5,000 to €100,000.

It's a simple plan and a bit radical, so I don't expect anyone to take it up anytime soon - but if nothing else, it should serve for now to demonstrate the extent to which the laws covering defamation amount to nothing more than a gamble for the media, a lottery in which they can never win. The most they can ever hope to achieve is to break even.

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