Victory! The chiropractors drop case against Simon Singh!

Yay! Today the British Chiropractic Association (BCA) dropped their libel case against Simon Singh after two whole years! A turning point was when a couple of weeks ago three of the most senior judges in England upheld Simon’s appeal thus allowing him to defend his article much more easily.

This is obviously an important win for free speech, and the right of every scientists, journalist, blogger, to freely criticise and question any bogus or unsubstantiated claims*). Nevertheless, the campaign for the reform of English libel laws is ongoing, and though strengthened significantly after today’s events, it is still far from over…

Many major media outlets covered Simon’s victory, further raising awareness for the need to reform libel laws. Not to mention that they further raised awareness of the unsubstantiated, pseudo-scientific, (mal)practise that is Chiropractice! From BBC:

The case itself had sparked an intense debate about the role of libel actions in areas of scientific controversy.

Dr Singh recently won an appeal that would have allowed him to use the fair comment defence in the case.

On Thursday, the website of William McCormick QC, one of the barristers acting for Simon Singh, said the British Chiropractic Association has served a “Notice of Discontinuance”. This means the case is now over.

Dr Singh said he was hugely relieved, but expressed his annoyance that libel actions continued to be used to block what he viewed as legitimate scientific inquiry and debate.

“Other scientists, science writers, bloggers, investigative journalists, human rights activists – all get threatened with these libel suits,” he told BBC News. “And at the end of the day, the people who lose out are the general public because we don’t get to find out the real truth because these libel suits just stop good journalism.”

Dr Singh said he was still waiting to find out how the costs of the case would be borne. He said his defence had so far cost him in excess of £100,000

Read more about today’s events, as well as the timeline of the BCA vs. Simon Singh case in the Sense About Science web site -also one of the organizations behind the libel reform campaign.

  1. * (Careful there! I am not advocating journalists or bloggers going about pulling stuff out of their asses and making baseless assertions! But the libel laws put a very heavy burden of proof to the defendant instead of the claimant. This, along with other issues such as the huge costs associated with libel cases, are the major points that need to be revisited in case of libel reform. Of course I am not a lawyer and do not pretend to know these things in detail. Nevertheless, I can appreciate these issues and the impact they have on free speech and especially scientific inquires and criticism. []