In other words how can you publish Parlimentary Papers WITHOUT bona fide and WITH malice? Why not protect in this case?

      Two other aspects of parliamentary privilege should be noted. First, reports of parliamentary proceedings are protected. This is because parliamentary free speech would be of little value if parliamentary debates and proceedings could not be freely communicated outside Parliament. In Stockdale v Hansard, the court held that parliamentary privilege protected papers printed by Parliament for use by its own members, but not papers made available outside Parliament to the public.159 The Parliamentary Papers Act 1840 reversed this judgment by conferring absolute immunity upon parliamentary publications, such as Hansard (the official reports of parliamentary debates) and other parliamentary papers (eg reports of select committees).160 The Act also confers qualified privilege upon extracts or abstracts from Hansard or other parliamentary papers, which will be protected if published ‘bonâ fide and without malice’.161

161 Parliamentary Papers Act 1840, s 3.


Suppose a newspaper (or other media) and MP (or Lord) colluded to have the MP say something defamatory in the House of Commons (or House of Lords). If there was blanket, absolute immunity in reporting what the MP said because it was said in the Commons, the newspaper could print the defamatory comments with no risk of losing a libel suit.

Suppose there was an injunction against publication of certain information or a so-called super-injunction against reporting even the existence of such an injunction. With absolute immunity a newspaper could break the injunction by reporting comments made by an MP in the Commons, comments that the injunction prohibited being made outside the Commons. Neither the entity that requested the injunction or the court that granted it would have legal recourse or remedy.

Suppose a newspaper illicitly reported on private sittings by either of the Houses of Parliament or a Parliamentary committee. Again with absolute immunity it would be wholly free to do so.

The qualified (as opposed to absolute) immunity or privilege means the aggrieved party must prove the newspaper (or whichever reporter of comments made in Parliament) acted in bad faith with malice.

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Hansard reports are not verbatim but are edited for clarity because live speech often looks like rubbish when you see it transcribed in print.

However, if you edit in bad faith, or quote selectively you can twist people's words. This is a similar principle to reporting on proceedings (including accusations that would elsewhere be libellious) in court.

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  • A recursive example would be summarizing this answer as "richardb claims Hansard twist people's words". – origimbo Nov 27 '19 at 13:47

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