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NI libel reform and media threats top of agenda at journalism debate


Ian Murray of the Society of Editors

Ian Murray of the Society of Editors


The reform of Northern Ireland's libel laws and threats to reporters and Press freedom will be discussed by leading journalists at the Society of Editors Virtual Conference for 2020.

Northern Ireland: A Place Apart?, a free debate on Tuesday evening, will see editors and press freedom advocates discuss efforts to implement meaningful libel reform, alongside paramilitary threats to journalists, media plurality and privacy injunctions.

Chaired by Martin Breen, deputy editor-in-chief of the Belfast Telegraph and Sunday Life, the discussion will also hear from Noel Doran, editor of the Irish News; Sam McBride, political editor of the News Letter; Mike Nesbitt, Ulster Unionist MLA; Irish News security correspondent Allison Morris; and Fergal McGoldrick, a specialist media litigation solicitor at Carson McDowell.

Ian Murray, executive director of the Society of Editors, said the debate was an opportunity to look more closely at threats to Press freedom.

"Following the passage of the Defamation Act 2013 in England and Wales, concerted efforts have been made to ensure that similar meaningful reform of libel laws in Northern Ireland come to fruition," he explained.

"Alongside the issue of media plurality and the vexatious use of privacy injunctions to try to stifle legitimate reporting in Northern Ireland, journalists continue to face online abuse and paramilitary threats just for doing their job.

"With Northern Ireland's Justice Minister promising action on this issue, we look forward to hearing what can be done to end this intimidation, more than 25 years since the first paramilitary ceasefires."

Northern Ireland: A Place Apart? is free to register for. Visit www.crowdcast.io/e/5jcqc7pa/register

Belfast Telegraph