"It still staggers me that the British Chiropractic Association and half the chiropractors in the UK were making unsubstantiated claims. It still baffles me that the BCA then dared to sue me for libel and put me through two years of hell before I was vindicated. And it still makes me angry that our libel laws not only tolerate but also encourage such ludicrous libel suits. My victory does not mean that our libel laws are okay, because I won despite the libel laws. We still have the most notoriously anti-free speech libel laws in the free world."
Friday, 16 April 2010
The British Chiropractic Association have dropped their wrong-headed libel action against Simon Singh. The move follows the decision by the Court of Appeal that Simon's comments, published by the Guardian, were honest comment not a statement of fact.
A delighted Simon says:
50,000 people have now signed the online campaign for libel reform and with a General Election just weeks away, there is a real chance of significant changes to this repressive piece of legislation.
Sunday, 4 April 2010
Congratulations to Simon Singh on his resounding victory in the appeal court for his right to express an opinion on alternative medicine. Simon is being sued by the British Chiropractic Assocation (BCA) for an article he published in The Guardian two years ago, which described some of its treatments as "bogus" and based on insufficient evidence.
Last week's ruling does not bring an end to this farcical action, it simply allows Simon to use the defence of fair comment when the action finally reaches court. Simply to reach this preliminary stage the proceedings have cost both parties a total of £200,000 - proof, if such were needed, that libel remains a rich man's game with the only beneficiaries being m'learned friends. Without the fair comment defence, under Britain's archaic libel laws, Simon would have had to prove his comments were factually true as opposed to an opinion, an experience that England's law lords compared to "an Orwellian Ministry of Truth."
So the battle to reform Britain's libel laws and defend freedom of speech continues. It is shameful that despite promises from the Labour Government for reform the UN human rights committee's criticism of the current system, published in 2008, still stands: "The law law of libel has served to discourage critical media reporting on matters of public interest, adversely affecting the ability of scholars and journalists to publish their work."
I urge you all to sign the petition at www.libel-reform.org.
Manchester solicitor Mark Lewis, who acted for Sheffield Wednesday fan Nigel Short and Owlstalk in another recent action, sent me his commentary which I'm pleased to publish here. You can read the background to the Nigel Short story on George Monbiot's blog here.