By Steve Nowottny
Simon Singh today won his landmark legal battle after the British Chiropractic Association decided to drop its libel claim against the science writer.
In a statement, the BCA insisted it had been right ‘at the outset’ to bring its libel action after Dr Singh’s comments about the effectiveness of chiropractic, but said it felt ‘the time is right for the matter to draw to a close’.
It comes two weeks after the Court of Appeal ruled that Dr Singh was permitted to use the defence of fair comment.
The BCA’s decision to drop the case will be welcomed by many GPs, who have expressed concerns about the growing influence of libel laws on scientific debate.
A Pulse survey of almost 600 GPs in January found that 48% of GPs agreed that libel laws were ‘restricting open discussion of the potential risks of drug treatment’, while just 12% disagreed.
Dr Singh welcomed the BCA’s decision, but said: ‘Fear of libel means that good research is not always published because those with vested interests might sue, and bad research that should be withdrawn is not pulled because the authors might sue the journal, and in both cases it is the public that loses out because the truth is never exposed.
‘My victory does not mean that our libel laws are okay, because I won despite the libel laws – we still have the most notoriously anti-free speech libel laws in the free world.’
A spokesperson from the BCA said they had considered taking their action to the Supreme Court, but after legal advice had decided to draw the matter to a close.
‘As those who have followed the publicity surrounding this case will know, Simon Singh has said publicly that he had never intended to suggest that the BCA had been dishonest. The BCA accepts this statement, which goes some way to vindicating its position,’ he said.
Simon Singh Simon Singh Simon Singh writes exclusively for Pulse
Read Simon Singh’s article written exclusively for Pulse on ‘Why our libel laws need urgent reform‘BCA statement