This morning, the appeals court ruled that Simon Singh can defend his article about the British Chiropractic Association (BCA) as “fair comment,” meaning that he can argue that he was making an opinionated statement, as opposed to being forced to argue that his words meant something defined by a high court judge â€“ a definition Singh did not agree to. The full judgment is here (PDF).
The BCA has released a statement, which I will sum up here:
“We’re not trying to stamp on free speech and scientific debate. We’re just bankrupting Simon Singh until he stops criticizing us and goes away. Yes, The Guardian offered us the opportunity to publicly defend our claims with science, but that’s absurd â€“ we don’t have any science to defend our claims.
“We know that at this point pretty much everyone thinks we’re a bunch of shit heads, but that’s because we were following our lawyers’ advice! And even though we’ll continue to look like bigger shit heads the longer we keep this charade going, we’re prepared to drag this out for years. After all, if we’re going to singlehandedly destroy the chiropractic industry, we’re going to take Simon Singh down with us. Because that’s exactly the kind of shit heads we are.”
I’m surprised they didn’t mention in their press release that they want to bill Simon for the time they spent dealing with the activists who have been inspired to take down chiropractorss making fraudulent claims. Don’t worry, BCA, this totally won’t change our opinion of you.Â We already know you’re a bunch of shit heads.
Their full, unedited statement follows after the jump.
MoreÂ mediaÂ informationÂ fromÂ CarlÂ CourtneyÂ onÂ 07785397321Â 1stÂ AprilÂ 2010
StatementÂ fromÂ theÂ BritishÂ ChiropracticÂ AssociationÂ regardingÂ theÂ BCAÂ vsÂ SimonÂ Singh
Commenting on the Court of Appeal ruling allowing the Appeal by Simon Singh, Richard Brown, President of the British Chiropractic Association (BCA), said:
â€œThe case against Dr Singh has always been simply to set the record straight and correct what the BCA considered were libellous comments by Simon Singh in the Guardian. Originally we asked Dr. Singh for a retraction and an apology and he declined. The Guardian subsequently offered a right of reply but this fell short of our expectations, not least of which because the original libel would have remained uncorrected. Having reached stalemate and feeling our reputation had been tarnished we sought legal advice which unambiguously indicated that in order to get an appropriate apology and retraction, a writ needed to be served.
The same advice was that this was best achieved by directing the action against the author rather than the newspaper. The BCA has followed its legal advice throughout this case. The motivation for this action was always to clear our good name, particularly in respect of the implication that we acted dishonestly. It never was, and it is still not our intention, to curb freedom of speech, whether in the field of scientific
research or elsewhere, although sadly we recognise that this is how it has been portrayed by Dr. Singh and his supportersâ€.
The BCA brought the case because in his article Dr Singh made a serious attack on the reputation of the BCA, which stated in print and on-line, that the Association â€œ….happily promotes bogus treatmentsâ€. In May 2009 Mr Justice Eady, one of the countryâ€™s leading libel judges, agreed with the BCAâ€™s interpretation of the article. He ruled that Dr Singh had made the â€œplainest allegation of dishonestyâ€. Today the Court
of Appeal ruled, by virtue of their interpretation, that the words published were â€œcommentsâ€ or â€œopinionsâ€ and not allegations of fact.
The BCA is considering its position in the light of the ruling. Richard Brown concluded â€œWe are of course disappointed to lose the appeal, but this is not the end of the road and we are considering whether to seek permission to appeal to the Supreme Court and subsequently proceed to trial. 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 integrityâ€.