Crackdown on corrupt elites abusing UK legal system to silence critics

UK Deputy Prime Minister, Dominic Raab. Image: Alexandros Michailidis/

Courts will be able to dismiss lawsuits seeking to stifle free speech earlier under government reforms to protect the UK legal system from abuse.

 UK Deputy Prime Minister, Dominic Raab, set out a package of measures that take aim at so-called ‘Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation’ (SLAPPs) on Wednesday, July 20.

This includes a new mechanism to allow courts to throw out baseless claims quicker and a cap on costs to prevent the mega-rich, such as Russian oligarchs, from using expensive litigation as a weapon to silence their critics.

SLAPPs typically involve wealthy individuals or large businesses using the threat of endless legal action and associated costs, sometimes totalling millions of pounds, to muzzle their opponents under defamation and privacy laws.

This tactic is increasingly being used to intimidate journalists, authors, and campaigners into limiting or abandoning critical stories or books.

Most cases never make it to court because authors often back down under a barrage of aggressive legal letters, and many retract stories in fear of financial ruin.

Responses to a government call for evidence unveiled today revealed that this is having a chilling effect.

Journalists, media organisations and publishers reported that they no longer publish information on certain individuals or topics, such as exposing serious wrongdoing or corruption, because of potential legal costs.

Ministers are determined to put an end to this bullying and protect the UK’s free press and will legislate at the earliest opportunity.

Deputy Prime Minister, Justice Secretary and Lord Chancellor, Dominic Raab said: “We won’t let those bankrolling Putin exploit the UK’s legal jurisdiction to muzzle their critics.”

“So, today I’m announcing reforms to uphold freedom of speech, end the abuse of our justice system, and defend those who bravely shine a light on corruption.”

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Written by

Anna Ellis

Originally from the UK, Anna is based on the Costa Blanca and is a web reporter for The Euro Weekly News covering international and Spanish national news. Got a news story you want to share? Then get in touch at