Simon Singh has appeal!

By Phil Plait | April 7, 2010 8:00 am

Simon Singh – the journalist who has been sued for libel by the British Chiropractic Association for having the temerity to write that they happily promote bogus remedies — has won a big victory in the UK: he has the right to argue that his statement was opinion, and not a statement narrowly (and, in my opinion, incorrectly) defined by a judge.

Rebecca has the lowdown at Skepchick (some NSFW, but totally funny, language there), as does Steve at Neurologia. While this doesn’t mean Simon has won the case, it does mean he can continue his arguments, when before he had been stopped cold by a judge.

The BCA is looking ever-more ridiculous, mean, and venal in this case. We already know that many of the claims made by chiropractors and by the BCA specifically are totally wrong. The heat is on these guys. Now we can hope that the BCA will be handed their heads in this case… and if we really grab the brass ring, the UK’s awful libel laws will get reformed, too.

We’re on the verge of a huge, huge win here. It hasn’t happened yet, and there is much to do. But the light is there, on the horizon.


Comments (18)

  1. Plutonium being from Pluto

    Great news & spot on write-up BA! :-)

    Here’s hoping justice prevails – & Simon Singh’s appeal succeeds & the horrible UK libel laws get the long-overdue reform required.

  2. Except that what he said isn’t an “opinion”. It’s a fact.

  3. Gary Ansorge

    Amazing how such a tiny remnant of a once great empire can still have such a chilling effect on science reporting.

    Raising a toast to Simon Singe and all those who have supported him(since that includes me, I’ll have to make that a double,,,hic,,,).

    Keep up the good reporting, Phil.

    Gary 7

  4. Pieter Kok

    Apparently, the reform of UK libel laws, announced just two weeks ago by Jack Straw, has just been scrapped.

  5. Strange country the UK. Laws are sometimes far more important than the citizen. The judiciary can maintain that as they are a protected species.

  6. Jeff in Tucson

    The more the BCA fights this case, the more they look like a-holes. That’s bad publicity, and is likely to hurt their business. You don’t want potential customers thinking that you are a mean bully. The best possible course of action for them is to cut their losses as soon as possible by dropping the suit. Even if they do eventually win, their reputation will be forever damaged by this debacle. Here’s hoping that Simon wins, but even if he doesn’t, the BCA will have lost quite a bit of credibility anyway.

  7. Sticks

    We all need to be careful what we say here, Phil included, because if it can be read in the UK then it comes under our libel laws, so I would like to say what good upstanding people the BCA are

    So please don’t sue me :(

  8. Alex in Fredericton

    I think the funniest thing I saw on April Fools Day was the reply from the BCA. Especially this part “Our original argument remains that our reputation
    has been damaged. To reiterate, the BCA brought this claim only to uphold its good
    name and protect its reputation, honesty and integrity.”
    Hilarious! I can just imagine how much they were laughing when they posted this one!

  9. What? No tip o’ the cracked spine? I posted this on your blog as soon as I saw it! :)

    And yes, this was good news indeed, and thanks for pointing over to Rebecca, I love readig her style!

  10. Brian

    “Any sufficiently contested fact is indistinguishable from opinion.”

    (Which is pretty much the whole of the Birthers strategy.)

  11. jcm

    I suppose it is too early to celebrate.

  12. Your name here

    WOOT! Science gets another chance!

  13. The libel laws of England and Wales have a long reach: anyone who writes something that is published there is open to a suit. That’s why reform is so necessary and why support for the reform campaign is so desperately needed. Please see for details.

    We are trying to get 100,000 signatures to put pressure on the politicians (more susceptible for the next few weeks since there’s an election). Anyone can sign and everyone should, since you’re all vulnerable! Please sign at

  14. Crudely Wrott

    Another data point indicative of the continued presence of rational thought at large in the world. A welcome development.

  15. Paul

    Can anyone tell me why Simon Singh singled out the BCA when the UK regulator and two other profesional representative associations in the UK were making the same claims?

  16. Rolfe

    Please quit with this “UK libel laws” stuff.

    The libel laws being complained of are those of England and Wales. Scotland, also part of the UK, is a separate jurisdiction.

  17. Halcyon Dayz

    Unstranger – “Strange country the UK. Laws are sometimes far more important than the citizen.”

    Without the Rule Of Law there would be no citizens. Just subjects.
    The judiciary doesn’t get to pick and choose which laws to uphold.

  18. Gary Sidebottom

    Good news for Simon – the BCA has dropped its libel action against Simon!


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