A Victory For Reason

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A Victory For Reason

Postby Elessar » Thu Apr 01, 2010 12:22 pm

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/8598472.stm

A science writer has won the right to rely on the defence of fair comment in a libel action, in a landmark ruling at the Court of Appeal.

Simon Singh was accused of libel by the British Chiropractic Association over an article in the Guardian in 2008.

Dr Singh questioned the claims of some chiropractors over the treatment of certain childhood conditions.

The High Court had said the words were fact not opinion - meaning Dr Singh could not use the fair comment defence.

However, the Lord Chief Justice Lord Judge, Master of the Rolls Lord Neuberger and Lord Justice Sedley ruled High Court judge Mr Justice Eady had "erred in his approach" last May, and allowed Dr Singh's appeal.

BBC News science correspondent Pallab Ghosh says that, had Justice Eady's ruling stood, it would have made it difficult for any scientist or science journalist to question claims made by companies or organisations without opening themselves up to a libel action that would be hard to win.

Dr Singh described the ruling as "brilliant", but added that the action had cost £200,000 "just to define the meaning of a few words".

"After two years of battling in this libel case, at last we've got a good decision. So instead of battling uphill we're fighting with the wind behind us," he said.

"The Court of Appeal's made a very wise decision, but it just shouldn't be so horrendously expensive for a journalist or an academic journal or a scientist to defend what they mean.

"That's why people back off from saying what they really mean."

The British Chiropractic Association said it was disappointed to lose the appeal but it was "not the end of the road".

BCA president Richard Brown said: "We are considering whether to seek permission to appeal to the Supreme Court and subsequently proceed to trial.

"Our original argument remains that our reputation has been damaged. The BCA brought this claim only to uphold its good name and protect its reputation, honesty and integrity".

In the article in April 2008, Dr Singh suggested there was a lack of evidence for the claims some chiropractors made on treating certain childhood conditions such as colic and asthma.

The BCA alleged that Dr Singh had effectively accused its leaders of knowingly supporting bogus treatments.

The case has become a cause celebre for science journalists and led to calls for defamation law to be rewritten so it would not interfere with scientific debates.

Tracey Brown, spokeswoman for the Coalition for Libel Reform, said: "We are delighted with the judges' ruling, but it does not go far enough.

"There is a cardiologist currently being sued by a device manufacturer, we have researchers who have been unable to publish their critique of lie detector technology because of threats of libel action.

"A major science journal is also currently being sued and our academics are being told to pull down blogs."

British scientific organisation the Royal Institution welcomed the judgement.

Director of programmes Gail Cardew said: "It will encourage scientists and the public to discuss evidence freely without fear of legal threat."
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Re: A Victory For Reason

Postby Elessar » Thu Apr 01, 2010 12:23 pm

Congratulations Simon Singh!

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Re: A Victory For Reason

Postby Elessar » Thu Apr 01, 2010 12:24 pm

Oh, and FUCK YOU British Chiropractic Association.
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Re: A Victory For Reason

Postby Elessar » Thu Apr 01, 2010 12:28 pm

The BCA have responded:

http://www.chiropractic-uk.co.uk/gfx/up ... 202010.pdf

What 'good name'? Bunch of quacks.
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Re: A Victory For Reason

Postby Delilah » Thu Apr 01, 2010 1:16 pm

This is good news!

Your libel laws are fucked up.
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Re: A Victory For Reason

Postby Ace » Thu Apr 01, 2010 1:27 pm

Elessar wrote:The BCA have responded:

http://www.chiropractic-uk.co.uk/gfx/up ... 202010.pdf

What 'good name'? Bunch of quacks.


Whereas I fully support this ruling I think you are being overly harsh on the Chiropractic profession. Don't get me wrong, Chiropractors should stick to their basic training and stop trying to indicate that Chiropractors can cure all ills. But many doctors refer clients to Chiropractors for back pain and muscle pain and the clients are treated very successfully.
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Re: A Victory For Reason

Postby Kes » Thu Apr 01, 2010 2:04 pm

Delilah wrote:
Your libel laws are fucked up.



:shock: You can't go round saying things like that, they'll lock you up! :shock:
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Re: A Victory For Reason

Postby Elessar » Thu Apr 01, 2010 3:01 pm

Ace wrote:
Elessar wrote:The BCA have responded:

http://www.chiropractic-uk.co.uk/gfx/up ... 202010.pdf

What 'good name'? Bunch of quacks.


Whereas I fully support this ruling I think you are being overly harsh on the Chiropractic profession. Don't get me wrong, Chiropractors should stick to their basic training and stop trying to indicate that Chiropractors can cure all ills. But many doctors refer clients to Chiropractors for back pain and muscle pain and the clients are treated very successfully.


That was never the issue though - the issue was chiropractors claiming that they can treat asthma, infant colic and various other things, despite guidelines from the BCA itself saying that they shouldn't advertise these services. For backache, there's a small amount of evidence that it might work.

As for doctors referring people to chiropractors, that doesn't mean very much - they also refer people to homeopaths! Doctors aren't allowed to prescribe something that they know doesn't work without telling the patient that it doesn't work, so the only way doctors can use the placebo effect is to send the patients to a quack - I agree that that system needs changing.
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Re: A Victory For Reason

Postby Elessar » Thu Apr 01, 2010 3:02 pm

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Re: A Victory For Reason

Postby Herbi » Thu Apr 01, 2010 3:39 pm

This is great news. I've been following this case for some time. It would have had damaging consequences for freedom of speech had he lost this case even with some high profile supporters.

Oh... and isn't Ariane Sherine a total babe? :inlove:
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Re: A Victory For Reason

Postby Belle Leisha » Thu Apr 01, 2010 3:57 pm

Awesome, it's stupid that it took so long, but really good news!
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