In recent years, Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation (SLAPPs) have become well‐recognized as challenging free speech and public participation in the USA, Canada and Australia. However, in Europe SLAPPs remain largely unrecognized with little consideration of their use and impact. This paper argues that SLAPPs are used in Europe and have been neglected for a number of reasons. In order to examine the European SLAPP situation, this paper focuses on libel law in England and Wales. It considers the debate on free speech that has flowed out of libel cases and concludes by reflecting on what advantages might flow from a refocusing of that debate that includes a recognition of SLAPPs.