British Science writer and Skeptic Simon Singh has been sued by the British Chiropractic Association for comments he made in his book Trick or Treatment? Alternative Medicine on Trial A recent pre-trial decision suggests that Singh may be subject to lengthy and expensive litigation, precisely because his comments are based on Scientific evidence rather than mere opinion! A thorough history of events so far can be found here: http://www.senseaboutscience.org.uk/index.php/site/project/340 Also on this page is a link to the campaign “Keep Libel Laws Out of Science“. There is also a link to enable individuals to donate to this campaign. Here is a link to a podcast of an interview Simon Singh recorded the day after Judge Eadie’s Preliminary Ruling (25 min, 13 Mb Mp3 format) http://www.sendspace.com/file/x4vb47 _____________________________
Update 17th July 2009 – messages from Simon’s supporters Sile Lane and David Allen Green
Simon Singh is in Australia this week to speak to science groups. I just spoke to him and he has been touched by the support from the people he is meeting and there has been a lot of interest in the Australian media.
Here are just a few snippets of other news. The Keep Libel Laws out of Science statement now has over 15,000 signatures! I hope you saw the excellent editorial by Fiona Godlee in the British Medical Journal on Friday in an issue that also carried a commentary from Professor Edzard Ernst on the British Chiropractic Association’s evidence. You can follow links on our http://www.senseaboutscience.org/freedebate to read blog discussions of this too. We are in the process of setting up meetings with ministers and front benchers and will update you on that over the summer. In particular, we are looking at public interest defences and have got together with Index on Censorship and PEN to start working on that. It has been helpful to hear about other cases where scientists and medics have been threatened with libel action. Some of these are likely to get a bit of publicity over coming weeks and we’ll be putting information about other cases on our website. We are also interested in speaking to journalists, authors and editors about the impact of legal fears on what is published because we are compiling a file to present to the CMS parliamentary committee and to Government. There have been lots of requests for campaign materials. Your kind donations are making a real difference to the campaign. We need to do a reprint of materials � if anyone can sponsor this (approx �340) do let me know.
Keep checking our website for updated coverage and news. I’m pleased to send you the following legal update on Simon’s case.
Legal update: BCA v Simon Singh
by David Allen Green (“Jack of Kent“)
Simon Singh has now filed his application to appeal the High Court’s adverse preliminary ruling on meaning. This is still an application to appeal – and not the actual appeal itself – as Simon has no automatic right to an appeal. This step is required because the High Court refused Simon leave to appeal. The Court of Appeal will now consider this important application. If Simon is successful, the Court of Appeal will then hear the appeal against the preliminary ruling. However, if Simon is not successful in this application, then (unless the case settles) he has either to proceed towards full trial (on the adverse meaning in the preliminary ruling) or perhaps to apply to the European Court of Human Rights. The decision by the Court of Appeal on the application to appeal should be made later this month, or possibly in September (the English Courts have a long vacation in August). A further legal update will then be sent to you setting out this decision and its implications. This is the first Sense About Science legal update on cases where English libel law is being used in scientific or public health contexts. David Allen Green, who blogs as “Jack of Kent“, is a solicitor with the City of London law firm Prieskel & Co LLP: http://www.preiskel.co.uk/team_det.asp?team_id=49&lang=eng.
Extract from Simon Singh Newsletter # 36
Newsletter 36 Application to Appeal Rejected 3 August, 2009 http://www.simonsingh.net 1. Application to Appeal Rejected
2. Back from Oz
1. Application to Appeal Rejected
For everyone following my libel case, the bad news is that my application to appeal seems to have been rejected. I say “seems” because I have not yet seen the official ruling as the letter is still in the post. However, there seems to have been a leak and my options are already being discussed by various bloggers. As usual, Jack of Kent has provided a clear summary of the situation: http://jackofkent.blogspot.com/2009/07/simon-singh-loses-first-attempt-at.html http://jackofkent.blogspot.com/2009/08/simons-choice.html
The Court of Appeal’s refusal is obviously disappointing, but I remain in good spirits. I will not be making a decision about my response until I have seen the official letter and the details of the refusal, and I will also need to time to discuss the situation with friends, colleagues, supporters and family. In the meantime, while my particular libel case is ongoing, it continues to raise a whole series of arguably more important issues, particularly the appalling state of English libel laws. I am pleased that the Culture Secretary has agreed to meet with signatories of the Keep Libel Laws out of Science campaign statement to hear how the laws affect science writers. We are also pursuing a meeting at the Ministry of Justice and with front benchers in other departments to lobby for a change in the law. http://www.senseaboutscience.org.uk/index.php/site/project/333/
Also, Ben Goldacre’s recent and excellent article in the Guardian (“An intrepid, ragged band of bloggers“) documents various activities that will interest those following my case. http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/libertycentral/2009/jul/29/simon-singh-science-chiropractic-litigation
2. Back from Oz
I have just returned from the Adelaide Festival of Ideas and from speaking to skeptics in Sydney and Melbourne. Thanks to everyone who came to the events and offered words of support. Also, the Australian media covered “Trick Or Treatment?“, the problems of English libel laws and the evidence for chiropractic on national TV, print and radio. http://www.abc.net.au/news/video/2009/07/06/2618503.htm http://www.abc.net.au/7.30/ – http://today.ninemsn.com.au/article.aspx?id=837529