A campaign to reform English libel law to allow for robust criticism of scientific and medical claims without fear of legal action has been launched by journalist and author Simon Singh. It's a campaign which anyone working in the caring professions might wish to support.
The campaign comes as a consequence of legal action taken against Mr Singh by The British Chiropractic Association, which took exception (perhaps unsurprisingly) to an article he'd written in The Guardian. In the article, Mr Singh denounced claims on the BCA website that its members could use spinal manipulation to treat children with colic, ear infections, asthma, sleeping and feeding conditions, and prolongued crying as 'bogus', and criticised the BCA for 'happily promoting' these claims.
Out of curiosity, VetSurgeon rang the BCA press office this morning, and asked to be given the references for studies which it feels would support the original claims made on its site. Non have been forthcoming so far, which is a surprise. Under the circumstances, we'd have expected the BCA would have a raft of supporting evidence readily available.
But this isn't really about whether or not chiropractic works or not. The case seems to hinge upon whether Mr Singh's article implied that the BCA was being deliberately dishonest, or just delusional. He say's the latter. Unfortunately for him, Mr Justice Eady recently ruled the former, leaving Mr Singh with a bill for £100,000 worth of legal fees.
Mr Singh is to appeal. At stake is the freedom to be able to challenge scientific claims without fear of being sued. If you'd like to support this campaign, visit senseaboutscience.com and add your name to the 7000 others (including some pretty illustrious names) who have already done so.
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Publishing Editor: Arlo Guthrie
Clinical Editor: Alasdair Hotston Moore MA VetMB CertSAC CertVR CertSAS FRCVS
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