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Simon Singh wins UK freedom of speech case

by Sassafras Thu Apr 1st, 2010 at 10:28:19 AM EST

The first nail in the coffin of libel tourism?

Guardian:

The science writer Simon Singh has won his court of appeal battle for the right to rely on the defence of fair comment in a libel action.

Singh was accused of libel by the British Chiropractic Association (BCA) over an opinion piece he wrote in the Guardian in April 2008.



In an earlier judgment, now overturned, Singh had been wrongly denied the defence of "fair comment" because he was deemed to be discussing scientific fact.

Lord Judge said the court adopted what Judge Easterbrook, now chief judge of the US seventh circuit court of appeals, had said in a 1994 libel action over a scientific controversy.

Easterbrook had declared that those claiming they had been libelled "cannot, by simply filing suit and crying 'character assassination!', silence those who hold divergent views, no matter how adverse those views may be to plaintiffs' interests.

"Scientific controversies must be settled by the methods of science rather than by the methods of litigation. More papers, more discussion, better data, and more satisfactory models - not larger awards of damages - mark the path towards superior understanding of the world around us."

If you haven't already done so, please sign the petition for libel law reform at http://www.libelreform.org/.  As bloggers, it affects us all.

The Liberal Democrat MP Dr Evan Harris said: "This sensible judgment is no substitute for fundamental law reform. It is no kind of justice for a scientist to spend £200,000 and two years of his life just to get halfway through a case. The political parties must now all commit to reform of the law to free scientific speech and responsible journalism from the threat of penury."

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Jack of Kent: BCA v Singh: An Astonishingly Liberal Judgment
Simon Singh today won in the Court of Appeal.

The Court of Appeal held he was expressing "honest opinion".

It is a stunning judgment, quoting Milton and expressly adopting a US legal maxim that: "Scientific controversies must be settled by the methods of science rather than by the methods of litigation".

You can read the judgment in full here.

And so the British Chiropractic Association - which happily promotes bogus treatments even though there is not a jot of evidence - lost.

The BCA - discredited since the plethora - has announced that it is "disappointed" and that it is "considering its position" in respect of what has always been a staggeringly misconceived libel claim.


Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Thu Apr 1st, 2010 at 10:50:53 AM EST
Almost completely off-topic, but when Singh criticised an astronomy-related part of the lyrics of Katie Melua's song Nine Million Bycicles, Melua reacted by taping the 'corrected' lyrics too :-)



*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Fri Apr 2nd, 2010 at 03:12:54 AM EST
I heard Simon Singh speak at a local book festival a while back.  I think he's a little bit in love with her for that.  :)
by Sassafras on Fri Apr 2nd, 2010 at 03:35:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Bycicles

Bicycles...

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Fri Apr 2nd, 2010 at 03:44:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Jack of Kent: BCA v Singh: What the Court of Appeal Said
The Court of Appeal in British Chiropractic Association v Dr Singh [2010] EWCA Civ 350 is the most complex decision we have so far encountered in this litigation, and it repays careful study.

(Comparing the judgment with the transcript of the hearing is a particularly enlightening exercise. I also note that the Court of Appeal made a point of using Simon Singh's academic title in its case title.)


Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Sun Apr 4th, 2010 at 04:38:26 PM EST


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