Simon Singh at the RCJ

On Tuesday I was at the demonstration for Simon Singh outside the Royal Courts of Justice.  He is being sued for libel by the British Chiropractic Association, and the latest court appearance was an appeal over meaning.

Here’s a slideshow of my photos from outside the court, all with a Creative Commons Licence:

Inside the court, the judges apparently became quite exhasperated with some of the arguments put forward during the hearing. Padraig Reidy from Index on Censorship reported first-hand:

Lord Chief Justice Lord Judge said he was “troubled” by the “artificiality” of the case. “The opportunities to put this right have not been taken,” Lord Judge said.

He continued: “At the end of this someone will pay an enormous amount of money, whether it be from Dr Singh’s funds or the funds of BCA subscribers.”

He went on to criticise the BCA’s reluctance to publish evidence to back up claims that chiropractic treatments could treat childhood asthma and other ailments.

“I’m just baffled. If there is reliable evidence, why hasn’t someone published it?”

Rogers conceded that had Singh written that there was “no reliable evidence”, the defamation suit might never have happened.

But Lord Justice Sedley suggested “isn’t the first question as to whether something is evidence that it is reliable?”

3 thoughts on “Simon Singh at the RCJ

  1. This may be a dumb question, but if people like PEN can tell the difference between a malicious and unwarranted libel case, and a valid and justifiable one, why can’t the courts?

  2. Not dumb.

    First, we hope that the courts will indeed agree with PEN, in saying that this case is indeed unwarranted.

    Second, it is not so much The Courts, as The Law itself. The law of libel dates from a previous era, where protection of reputation was paramount, and there are not enough provisions, or indeed case law, to help judges distinguish between what is, and is not appropriate expression.

    Third, much of our campaign is about reform of process, rather than reform of outcomes. The problem with the Singh case is that it is very expensive and has taken a very long time to get hardly anywhere. A less expensive system would still force him to account for what he has written, but not at the cost of 2 years of his life.

    Indeed, in many cases, reform of the process would stop the libel action altogether, because libel as a bullying tactic becomes much less effective.

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