I haven’t posted anything on this, as it’s been amply covered on other websites, but I’ve followed it keenly. Two years ago, science writer Simon Singh was sued for libel by the British Chiropractic Association for having written a Guardian column in which he asserted that chiropractic “happily promotes bogus treatments” for ailments like asthma, colic, and ear infections. Last May, a judge ruled that Singh intended the “bogus treatments” characterization as “statement of fact,” which implied that the BCA was being deliberately and knowingly dishonest in promoting some treatments. Singh, with the support of many scientists and the English PEN, appealed this judgment.
Today, Singh won his appeal. A British justice ruled that Singh’s statement was not a statement of fact but “fair comment”:
. . the material words, however one represents or paraphrases their meaning, are in our judgment expressions of opinion. The opinion may be mistaken, but to allow the party which has been denounced on the basis of it to compel its author to prove in court what he has asserted by way of argument is to incite the court to become an Orwellian ministry of truth.
Singh isn’t out of the woods yet, but this goes a long way towards extricating him from the forest of insanity that is British libel law. And it’s a great victory for freedom of speech in the UK, especially the freedom to question quackery and pseudoscience.
If you’ve followed this case, you’ll want to read the full judgment (10 pages) here.
h/t: Ray Moscow