Thursday, October 15, 2009

Round three to Singh

It looks like Simon Singh's defence against the libel case brought against him by the British Chiropractic Association has taken a turn for the better for him. His grant to appeal after the ridiculous judgement over the interpretation and context of Singh's original Guardian article by libel judge Eady has been successful. For now anyway.

There's some comfort in that Lord Justice Laws found Eady's judgment "legally erroneous", although to me it seems like a typically understated legal description of an outrageous affront to free expression.

The fact that practioners of treatments which are unproven can sue a critic seems insane, and an indictment of the easy tool that our libel laws are for wealthy interests to silence criticism. The BCA claims that its treatments can help children with colic, sleeping and feeding problems, frequent ear infections, asthma and prolonged crying. Imagine if a church decided to sue over someone describing the uselessness of praying or touching a box of holy bones.

This case should never have hit the courts. In countries like the USA where freedom of speech and public interest have much more weight in law (constitution people!) Singh would already have won the case.

The case is far from over, but hopefully Singh will win out - and at the same time shine a light on the BCA's use of illiberal libel laws instead of countering Singh's criticisms with proof.

More on the case at the excellent Jack of Kent blog.

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