Ahead of his Court of Appeal hearing today, Simon Singh sets out his reasons for why English and Welsh libel law should be reformed.
The first problem is clear. A libel case is so horrendously expensive that most writers, scientists and journalists cannot afford to defend their writing, even if they are convinced it is accurate and important. These costs can easily run to over £1 million and are wholly disproportionate to the damages involved, which might be less than £10,000.
Singh, who is being sued by the British Chiropractic Association for an article he wrote for the Guardian in April 2008, will today challenge a ruling made on the case by Justice Eady – full details at this link.
Speaking about his own case and that of British cardiologist Dr Peter Wilmshurst, who is being sued for libel by an American corporation, Singh writes:
Dr Wilmshurst is not a scaremonger, but a doctor of the highest integrity who won the 2003 HealthWatch award for his courage in challenging misconduct in medical research. However, his reward this time has been a two-year legal battle that could bankrupt him.
When I asked why he bothered to fight on when it would be so much easier to back down and apologise, he replied: “If I fail to speak out then I am not doing my job as a doctor and I am breaking the Hippocratic Oath. I’d rather be sued for libel.”
Disclaimer: Journalism.co.uk has pledged its support to the ongoing Libel Reform campaign and petition, which is supporting Singh’s case.