Simon Singh goes to Court of Appeal

Science writer Simon Singh, who is currently being sued by the British Chiropractic Association (BCA) is going to court today to challenge Justice Eady’s earlier ruling on the case, made in May 2009.

It boils down to whether Singh’s article published in the Guardian in April 2008 about the effectiveness of chiropractic treatments for children, was comment (as Singh argues) or a statement of fact (as Eady first ruled), in the eyes of the law.

The Court of Appeal hearing – scheduled for 10:30am – “is a rare opportunity to clarify the right to ‘fair comment’, one of the few defences available in a libel action”, says the Libel Reform campaign, backed by the Sense About Science organisation, in a statement.

It said it will be “one of the most significant trials for free speech and science this year”, as Singh’s case goes before the Lord Chief Justice, the Master of the Rolls and Lord Justice Sedley.

Disclaimer: has pledged its support to the ongoing Libel Reform campaign and petition.

4 thoughts on “Simon Singh goes to Court of Appeal

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  3. Bob

    An interesting disclaimer at the end there. You guys just disclosed that you have an interest in events, and have backed a particular outcome. You have just stated, on the record, that no matter what the decision is, you support Outcome X.

    I am intrigued by the similarity to the BCA’s stance: that no matter what the evidence, they claim that spine manipulation will cure cholic and asthma in babies.

    I wonder: will the BCA exhibit a similar level of honesty in their press releases?

  4. Judith Townend Post author

    Our disclaimer is that, like many other journalists and organisations, we have decided to pledge our support to the Libel Reform campaign – a coalition of Sense About Science, the Index on Censorship and English PEN that is using Singh’s case as an example of the need for reform. The campaign is about changing where the BCA’s dispute with Singh takes place; it is not a call to shut down debate. We back the campaign’s call for a change in libel law, so that the issue could be debated through media or medical journals, rather than the courts. That’s the appropriate way to clarify outcome X.

    Sense About Science puts it like this:

    “The Keep Libel Laws out of Science campaign was launched following the use of the English libel laws to silence critical discussion of medical practice and scientific evidence discouraging debate, denying the public access to the full picture and encouraging the use of the courts to silence critics. The British Chiropractic Association has sued Simon Singh for libel. The scientific community would have preferred that it had defended its position about chiropractic through an open discussion in the medical literature or mainstream media.”

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