Simon Singh to appeal libel ruling


Simon Singh has announced that he intends to appeal Judge Eady's ruling:

The article was about an issue of public interest, namely childhood health and the effectiveness of particular treatments for some serious conditions. Hence, I was not prepared to apologise for an article that I still believed was important for parents to read, and which I believed was accurate and legally defensible.

The final reason for fighting on was that I knew that I was able to devote the time, money and energy required for a long legal battle. Most journalists would have been forced to back down and settle under the pressure of a libel threat, so it seemed that I had a duty to fight on in light of my privileged position.

To coincide with the news, my old droogs at Sense About Science have launched a campaign to protest the use of libel laws to stifle scientific debate:

The use of the English libel laws to silence critical discussion of medical practice and scientific evidence discourages debate, denies the public access to the full picture and encourages 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.

It's all going on here.

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I fully support Simon's stand and the Sense in Science campaign but am pessimistic. Having right on their side is seldom enough in libel cases.

I hope Simon has the resources to take this all the way to a European court. Ultimately the problem with the libel laws is that the burden of proof is reversed and this seems to me in breach of human rights.

Singh's chances of "play" from the English Court of Appeal are quite limited, and he is well aware of this - so I think that his making this decision shows clearly that he is prepared for a long battle as far as the European Human Rights Court.

The question now is, are the BCA prepared for the same? As the appeal stages will be more about Singh's legal team challenging Eady's ruling, the BCA's lawyers may perhaps have less to do. But with the case staying alive, the focus of reporting (both MSM and blogging) will stay squarely on the BCA, and on UK chiropractors in general. I don't think that is good news for them. Even if they do eventually win, it is likely to be a Pyrrhic victory.