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We take no sides in the controversy over Scientology, but we are appalled at Transworld’s decision not to publish “Going Clear.” Literature is not, and has never been, about playing it safe. From the beginning of time, books have made bold claims. For a publisher in the 21st century to be bullied out of publishing this book is a shame.
Ultimately, the decision not to publish “Going Clear” in the UK says more about that country’s libel laws than about the book itself. Considered overly punitive and archaic, British libel laws have long been the subject of censure by writers and free speech advocates.
“Our libel laws remain some of the most archaic in the Western world with cases in the High Court in London costing 100 times the European average,” Mike Harris, head of Advocacy at Index on Censorship, told the Telegraph. “The government is currently piloting legislation through Parliament to reform the law, but unfortunately it isn't strong enough. Even under these reforms, the chill on public interest publication will remain.”
Husna Haq is a Monitor correspondent.