The Freedom to Publish session on the main stage was put together by IPA, English PEN, PEN international and the Publishers Association.

It opened with HarperCollins UK General Counsel Simon Dowson-Collins talking to Author Tim Burgis about his book Kleptopia which was the second of two HarperCollins books to come under libel challenges in the UK. The pair discussed the different experiences of the author and publisher and the importance of the relationship between the two. Burgis then became moderator and spoke to publishers from Thailand and Slovenia as well as English Pen’s SLAPP.

Tanja Tuma, an author and publisher as well as chair of PEN Slovenia, spoke about the dramatic cases in Slovenia and Croatia and how they threaten the financial and professional ruin of journalists that expose corruption. Judha Su Soi Squad Thailand spoke about how the Lese Majesté laws have a long history of limiting freedom of expression and inciting self-censorship. She referred to 2022 IPA Prix Voltaire laureate, SameSky Books, as a long-standing inspiration and expressed her optimism that the younger generations could achieve change through the power of writing. Finally Dalia Nasreddin, UK Campaigns Manager at English PEN spoke about her 2022 report on SLAPPs and the increasing use of legal intimidation to silence authors.

The session closed with Kristenn Einarsson, Chair of the IPA’s Freedom to Publish Committee announcing the 2023 IPA Prix Voltaire shortlist. He also acknowledged the case of Ernest Moret, the French publisher arrested (and since released on bail) on his way to London Book Fair and who was reportedly questioned by anti-terrorism police about the kind of authors he worked with and whether they were ‘anti-government’.

The day closed with an informal gathering of IPA’s Educational Publishers Forum ahead of its meeting tomorrow which will close the London Book Fair week for IPA.

IPA’s Vice President, Gvantsa Jobava, and Secretary General, José Borghino, will be heading straight to Ghana where Accra will become the next UNESCO World Book Capital City on World Book and Copyright Day (23 April), succeeding Guadalajara.