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Wanted - The Facts On Last-Minute Libel Law

Dr Wayne Mapp National Justice Spokesperson

3 December 2001

Wanted - the facts on last-minute libel law

National is calling on the Associate Justice Minister to release all the papers she has received on a tough new criminal defamation clause slipped into the Electoral Amendment Bill (No 2) at the last minute.

"Given the urgency of this issue and the fact that it is being debated in the House this week, it is imperative that Margaret Wilson releases all the official advice she has received on this matter," says National's Justice spokesperson, Wayne Mapp.

"The Associate Minister admitted in the House last week that she had rejected the advice of her own officials when she put the clause in. Having bought off the Greens, it is blatantly obvious that she now just wants to ram it through without proper consultation with interested parties.

"Where did it originate from? That is what National wants to know. Suspicion rests on Helen Clark, the only MP to have used the criminal defamation provision. It is time for Margaret Wilson to come clean.

"There is huge interest in this piece of legislation. The inclusion of this draconian clause throws into real doubt this Government's commitment to the freedom of speech.

"National has asked for all the information relating to the matter be released under the Official Information Act so the facts are known before debate on the Bill resumes tomorrow," said Dr Mapp.

Ends


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