No libel of the dead.

MPs have rejected an attempt to amend the Defamation Bill currently going through Parliament, which would have allowed relatives of a dead person to sue over libellous stories.

The proposed amendment was introduced when Bishop Auckland and Labour Peer, Alan Goodman, made an amendment which would have allowed a dead person’s spouse or partner, relatives, siblings, or offspring to sue the publisher of an article that they considered defamatory, up to 12 months after the death.

An MP, in support of her amendment, cited instances of the Daily Mail columnist, Jan Moir’s article about the Boyz Own star, Stephen Gately and the case of the Watson family, who have been campaigning in Scotland for changes in the law, after publication of what they say were defamatory stories about their murdered daughter, which they say lead to their teenage son’s suicide.

Justice Minister, Jonathan Djanogly, said that it was a long established legal principle that a deceased person could not be defamed as his reputation was personal:

“Relatives of the deceased also have no right of action, unless the words used reflect on their own reputations,”

The Committee voted by 11-5 reject the amendment as to libel of the dead.

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