Bonavero Institute of Human Rights and the Centre for Freedom of the Media: Strategic Lawsuits against Public Participation (SLAPPs) and the threat to Media Freedom - Online Panel to commemorate World Press Freedom Day

Event date
3 May 2024
Event time
13:00 - 15:00
Oxford week
TT 2
Online via Zoom

Susan Coughtrie, Gill Phillips, Michelle Stanistreet, Sayra Tekin, Dr Peter Coe, Dr Rebecca Moosavian, Professor Paul Wragg, Charlie Holt

Notes & Changes

This event will be taking place online via Zoom. Please register here to attend.

Strategic Lawsuits against Public Participation (SLAPPs) present a threat to media freedom in the United Kingdom (UK) as wealthy individuals and corporations improperly use the courts to silence journalists undertaking investigations. SLAPP claims are typically brought under the guise of defamation claims, but other areas of law, such as issues concerning data protection and privacy can also be used. SLAPP claims have been particularly attractive in the UK for a number of reasons, such as because of the high costs of libel cases, which can financially exhaust a journalist or an organisation representing them (i.e. their publishing house). Additionally, the burden of proof in defamation cases is on the defendant to prove that the statement is true and cases go on for a lengthy period of time which emotionally exhausts journalists.


The government has responded to concerns surrounding SLAPPs and there is also cross-party support towards tackling SLAPPs. The Economic Crime and Corporate Transparency Act 2023 saw the introduction of amendments to tackle SLAPPs, including an early dismissal mechanism and the protection of reporting on economic crimes. However, concerns have been raised that these do not address all of the problems SLAPPs pose. The amendment raises concerns with the introduction of a subjective test in determining the intent of the filer and not completely addressing the concerns surrounding the costs of SLAPPs and providing exemplary damages for those who win their case alongside full recovery of their costs.


To mark World Press Freedom Day, the Bonavero Institute of Human Rights and the Centre for Freedom of the Media (CFOM) are hosting two panel events focusing on the threats that SLAPPs pose. The first panel event focuses on the chilling effects that SLAPPs can have on journalists/ism. The second panel focuses on how SLAPPs can be tackled through legislation, focusing on legislative efforts in the UK and also abroad.


Panel 1 (threats to journalists/ism)

Chair: Dr Irini Katsirea – Reader in International Media Law at the University of Sheffield

• Susan Coughtrie – Director of the Foreign Policy Centre and co-founder of the UK Anti-SLAPP Coalition

• Gill Phillips – Editorial Legal Consultant at Guardian News & Media Ltd

• Michelle Stanistreet– General Secretary of the National Union of Journalists (NUJ)

• Sayra Tekin - Director of Legal for the News Media Association 


Panel 2 (legislative changes)

Chair: Dr Damian Tambini – Distinguished Policy Fellow in the Department of Media and Communications at LSE

• Dr Peter Coe – Associate Professor at Birmingham Law School and independent member of the Council of Europe’s Expert Committee on Strategic Lawsuits against Public Participation (SLAPPs)

• Dr Rebecca Moosavian – Associate Professor in Law at University of Leeds School of Law

• Professor Paul Wragg – Professor of Media Law at University of Leeds School of Law

• Charlie Holt – lead counsel for campaigns at Greenpeace International leading the organisation’s SLAPP resilience strategy

Found within

Human Rights Law