Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Simon Singh to Appeal (probably)

I wasn't at last night's meeting in Holborn in support of Simon Singh's libel defence, but more than 200 people were. New Humanist has an excellent report of the meeting. Nothing was confirmed, but Singh is minded to appeal Mr Justice Eady's definition of "bogus", partly because of the "overwhelming support" he has received from bloggers and Facebook groupies (of whom there are now almost 4,000) since the decision was handed down the other week.

While mounting an appeal is risky because he may lose, he gave three reasons why it is the right option - 1) he might win, 2) he wants his day in court to talk about what the Guardian article actually meant, and 3) most importantly this case is about broader issues that the validity of chiropracty - it is "about the need to be able to write about issues fairly and reasonably without being intimidated". It is something that matters for all journalists, and ties into the wider issues concerning British libel law.

It's a high risk strategy even (perhaps especially) if he does win on the technical point, but at least it will further draw attention to the dangerous condition of the present law of libel - especially the legal fiction which enables companies and organisations to invoke principles evolved to protect the personal reputation of individuals. Together with the reverse burden of proof and a willingness, even an enthusiasm, evinced by English judges to permit "libel tourism", it has produced a triple whammy which threatens freedom of speech, public interest and Britain's international reputation. Reform is increasingly urgent, but will probably take legislation: common law follows its own logic, and questions of public policy tend to weigh less with judges than legal principles and precedents.

Singh will announce his final decision on May 28th. In the meantime, if you haven't already done so, please join the group, buy the book, or write something in support.


Letters From A Tory said...

He is still not out of the woods yet, but there is still a genuine possibility that his opponents might just end up highlighting their own failures.

WoollyMindedLiberal said...

I just hope he knows what he is doing, this could go horribly wrong. Its a bad day indeed when the courts are protecting Quacks from having their Quackery exposed.

Abelard said...

I'm just watching Mitchell and Webb and they've just done a couple of sketches on Homeopathy. Featuring some of the issues that were witten in the Trick and Treatment book about the dilution of the medicine. Very Funny.

Quite a few comedians have commented on the case Dara O'Brien, Steven Fry it's good that alternative medicine is being scrutinised.