05 June 2009

Keep the Libel Laws out of Science

UK libel laws are famously unbalanced, and allow the rich and powerful to bully challengers who have truth on their side. That's bad enough, but when it crimps the practice of science itself, as here, it's even worse:

The use of the English libel laws to silence critical discussion of medical practice and scientific evidence discourages debate, denies the public access to the full picture and encourages use of the courts to silence critics. The British Chiropractic Association has sued Simon Singh for libel. The scientific community would have preferred that it had defended its position about chiropractic through an open discussion in the medical literature or mainstream media.

On 4th June 2009 Simon Singh announces that he is applying to appeal the judge's recent pre-trial ruling in this case, in conjunction with the launch of this support campaign to defend the right of the public to read the views of scientists and writers.

He needs our help:

Join the campaign! In a statement published on 4th June 2009, over 100 people from the worlds of science, journalism, publishing, comedy, literature and law have joined together to express support for Simon and call for an urgent review of English law of libel. Please help us with this campaign, sign the statement and tell everyone you know to sign it. With every additional 1000 names we will be sending the statement again to Government until there is a commitment and a timetable from the parties for the necessary legislation.

Please help fight for the right to conduct science freely.


Unknown said...

Yes, those laws really do need to be updated to prevent abuse. If I call Gordon Brown a "Child Molester" in print, Gordon has every right to sue me for libel. If I call him a "Damned Politician", or if I complain that his "Banking Policy is a disaster", and he sues me,

Libel laws are not meant to deal with scientific publications. The Chiropractic Society should be ashamed of themselves, and the public should let the Society know that this type of behaviour is wrong.

Glyn Moody said...