Libel: The Prime Minister Sues

In the U.S., a journalist may freely discuss the activities of a public official so long as he takes reasonable care to report the facts accurately and his intent is not malicious. In Britain, the libel laws are so strict, so narrowly drawn and so rigidly applied, that what American editors consider good sound reporting can be a clear invitation to a lawsuit.

Last week Prime Minister Harold Wilson filed suit against an American-owned newspaper that is distributed but not published in Britain—the International Herald Tribune, edited and printed in Paris. The...

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