UK: EFJ joins anti-SLAPP coalition in welcoming end of Realtid case
In January 2023, Swedish business and finance publication Realtid confirmed that they had reached a settlement with businessman Svante Kumlin over a legal action Kumlin had taken as a result of articles published in late 2020. Under the terms of the settlement, while Kumlin will pay part of Realtid’s legal fees, Realtid is obliged to share a clarification and apology on its website on three of its articles about Kumlin and his company Eco Energy World (EEW).
The settlement comes more than two years after the legal action against Realtid and their journalists was initiated, and seven months after a judge ruled that the courts of England and Wales did not have jurisdiction over ten of the thirteen defamation claims EEW and Kumlin had initially brought.
Dozens of human rights and media freedom organisations had repeatedly expressed solidarity with Realtid due to the case having been deemed a strategic lawsuit against public participation (SLAPP) from the outset. SLAPPs seek to put pressure on public watchdogs by draining them of time, money, and energy in a bid to silence them.
“Overall, we welcome the fact that Realtid’s SLAPP has come to an end and that their articles will remain online in an unamended format,” the organisations said. “Nonetheless, Realtid and their journalists have paid dearly to defend their public interest reporting, not only financially, but in time and energy also. They will never be made whole.”
“We believe that, once again, this case emphasises the urgent need for concrete action to be taken, including the enactment of robust anti-SLAPP legislation in the UK. It is difficult to imagine a case like this getting this far if more robust protections were in place,” the organisations said. “We need to ensure that public watchdogs are empowered to carry out their work, which is so crucial to our democracy.”
Index on Censorship, RSF Sweden, Justice for Journalists Foundation , ARTICLE 19, Blueprint for Free Speech, Society of Authors, National Union of Journalists, The Daphne Caruana Galizia Foundation, International Press Institute (IPI), OBC Transeuropa (OBCT), Global Witness, Free Press Unlimited (FPU), Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP), Media Law Resource Center, Xnet, Spain, Spotlight on Corruption, European Federation of Journalists (EFJ), Association Justice and Environment, z.s., Swedish Union of Journalists, PEN International , English PEN