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Loosening Britain's Libel Laws

In an effort to silence their critics, wealthy parties from around the world have turned to British courts to try and prove libel claims in order to make use of its relatively low bar for proving legal damage. But now British lawmakers are looking to overturn the nation's 19th century libel laws, which some believe have turned Britain into a hot spot for those seeking to quell freedom of speech around the world. In the U.S., a number of states, such as New York, have passed laws making British court decisions on libel difficult to uphold in response to a lawsuit in England by the late Saudi billionaire Khalid Bin Mafouz against American author Rachel Ehrenfeld, whose book "Funding Evil" accused him of sending money to al Qaeda. Despite selling only 23 copies of her book in England, courts there decided that Mahfouz was allowed to bring his case forward there and ordered Ehrenfeld, who refused to participate in the trial, to pay over $225,000. The practice, known as "libel tourism," has prompted hearings in the House of Commons in which critics have denounced the law as unfair.