Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Next hearing in Simon Singh's libel defence takes place tomorrow

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Do come on over (and change your bookmarks accordingly): rationalist.org.uk

The next hearing in science writer Simon Singh's ongoing defence against the libel case brought by the British Chiropractic Association will take place tomorrow (Wednesday 13 October) at the Royal Courts of Justice in London. This is Singh's third application to appeal against Mr Justice Eady's May ruling on the meaning of the word "bogus" in the Guardian article which prompted the BCA to begin libel proceedings, with two previous applications having already been turned down.

With a view to tomorrow's hearing, the legal blogger Jack of Kent, who has been following the case closely from the outset, has taken the opportunity to provide a summary of events so far – it's well worth reading if you feel like you need to catch up on what's happened. He also offers his view on whether there is any likelihood of Singh succeeding at this latest hearing:
Will Simon succeed in this application? The fact that this is his third bite of this cherry suggests, in general terms, that he will not. The Court of Appeal does not lightly reverse rulings by the High Court in preliminary hearings in any case.

Nonetheless there is some chance of success here, though in my view less than 50:50.

More importantly, for Simon to take this case to the European Court of Human Rights for a ruling on whether in his case the UK government has - by allowing libel law to exist in this illiberal state - failed to afford protection to his right of free expression under Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights, he has to exhaust every domestic remedy.
Members of the public are, of course, free to show their support for Singh by observing the hearing in court tomorrow – Jack of Kent will be tweeting info on timings when it's available tomorrow, so make sure you're following him if you plan to go along.

Meanwhile, we were interested to see that the Charities Commission have dismissed a complaint made to them about Sense About Science, which appeared to object to their excellent Keep Libel Laws Out Of Science campaign (started, of course, in reaction to Simon Singh's libel battle). As you can read about in full on the Sense About Science website, the Commission wrote to inform them that a complaint had been made, and asked them to confirm that the charities funds were not being used to fund Singh's defence and that the Libel Laws campaign is in keeping with the charity's charitable aims. In reply, Sense About Science pointed out that they were not surprised to hear about the complaint, as they were already aware of discussions happening in online forums about how they could be reported to the Charities Commission over the libel campaign. They then go on to answer the questions put by the Commission, who were clearly satisfied – last week they wrote to Sense About Science to inform them that the case had been closed.

If you haven't already added your name in support of Keep Libel Laws Out Of Science, you can do so now at the Sense About Science website.