Science writer Simon Singh has said he is considering whether to challenge a Court of Appeal decision which could scupper his chances of beating the British Chiropractic Association in a landmark libel battle.
The Court of Appeal has rejected Singh’s application for permission to appeal against a High Court ruling that a comment piece he wrote in The Guardian was a statement of fact rather than opinion.
- January 7, 2021
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Singh told Press Gazette today:”‘We are just figuring out what we are going to do next – we will know where we are by early next week.”
He has seven days to decide whether to apply at an oral hearing for the Court of Appeal to reconsider its decision.
The Singh case has become a cause cÃ©lÃ¨bre for science journalism – with a broad coalition writers and scientists supporting him.
They argue that this case will make it harder for UK writers to openly discuss important scientific and health matters.
The British Chiropractic Association is suing Singh over a piece which appeared in The Guardian in April.
The BCA alleges that the third paragraph meant that the association claims chiropractic is effective in helping to treat children with: colic, sleeping and feeding problems, frequent ear infections, asthma and prolonged crying; although it knows that there is no evidence to support its claims. It alleges that Singh by accused the BCA’s leaders of knowingly supporting bogus treatments.
Mr Justice Eady has upheld the BCA’s pleaded meaning at a hearing in the High Court on 7 May.
He said that Singh’s comments were factual assertions rather than mere expressions of opinion – which mean he cannot use the defence of fair comment.
Singh, who is the best-selling author of books such as Fermat’s Last Theorem, is personally liable for the costs in his case.
In the July edition of Press Gazette, Singh said: “If I’d have settled this case I’d have had ‘Simon Singh admitted libel’ on my CV for the rest of my career.”
He said: “This is a question about the state of the libel laws and how they are being used to have a chilling effect on journalists.
“This isn’t about celebrity. This is about health issues and children and it is something we have to be able to talk about.”
Editor-in-chief of Nature Dr Philip Campbell said: “Current English libel law and the practices around it amount to the suppression of the critically minded journalism essential for an open society.”