I’ve been asked to speak today about NGOs and the public interest defence. I’d like to begin by clearing up some misconceptions about the role of NGOs in the libel debate generally.


Contrary to some suggestions, NGOs such as Index on Censorship and English PEN are not here to represent the commercial interests of the media. We are not, in my view, ‘free speech fundamentalists’ or ‘absolutists’ as we are sometimes called. And we do not represent the collective interests of NGOs as such, although we have repeatedly raised the concerns of NGOs about the impact of libel law on their operations. Continue reading