At the time of her death, Daphne Caruana Galizia was facing 48 civil and criminal lawsuits in Malta, had her bank accounts frozen, and was receiving a steady barrage of threats from London libel lawyers. In the Philippines, Maria Ressa was not only charged with and convicted of “cyberlibel” but has had to fight multiple groundless tax evasion and regulatory cases at the same time. 75-year-old media entrepreneur and journalist Jimmy Lai is currently sitting in Stanley Prison in Hong Kong, serving a sentence of over 5 years on trumped up “fraud” charges, and will have to defend yet more charges under the now infamous National Security Law when his trial comes on later this year, all for his journalism. Daphne Caruana Galizia, Maria Ressa and Jimmy Lai all have in common speaking truth to power, and States weaponizing the law against them. To silence them. To frighten them. To stop their journalism.

This panel discussion, chaired by media law expert Jonathan Price of Doughty Street Chambers, will study the phenomenon of “lawfare”, an increasingly familiar tactic in the authoritarian playbook, and ask what can be done to push back. No longer do oppressive States rely solely on defamation laws or national security laws to target journalists and journalism. They now turn to using a wide range of weapons – such as fraud laws, regulatory laws, intellectual property laws – to both silence the journalists and slur their reputations. This panel will draw on the first-hand experiences of Nobel laureate Maria Ressa, and Daphne Caruana Galizia’s son Matthew who inherited many of his mother’s lawsuits, some of which he continues to have to defend today. We will hear from their lawyer Caoilfhionn Gallagher KC – who also leads the international legal team for Jimmy Lai – and who has taken the fight to oppressive regimes on behalf of journalists all over the world, and from Jodie Ginsberg, a journalist and campaigner who is now President of the Committee to Protect Journalists. The panel will examine this growing tactic of lawfare and consider how journalists, lawyers, campaigners and States can – and must – fight back.

Organised in association with Doughty Street Chambers.