British Chiropractic Association Drops Suit against Simon Singh

As I mentioned last week, science writer Simon Singh recently won an appeal in a suit brought against him by the British Chiropractic Association (BCA) about an article he wrote in The Guardian that was critical of treatment claims made by the BCA. The outcome of the appeal interpreted Singh’s commentary, specifically that the BCA “happily promotes bogus treatments”, as subject to a “fair comment” defense. As a result of this change in momentum and a near continuous stream of bad press, the BCA decided today, after two years of litigation, to drop the suit against Singh.

While the recent appeal was widely viewed as excellent news for Singh’s case and libel law reform, it by no means ended the litigious struggle. The decision by the BCA to discontinue their legal action saves both parties a great deal of money (it has already cost Singh over £100,000 in legal fees). It also serves to minimize the PR damage incurred by the BCA. Since the suit was filed in April 2008, complaints of false advertising culminated in the investigation of nearly one quarter of all chiropractic clinics in England.

Singh hasn’t announced his intentions to sue the BCA for the recovery of his legal expenses, but I for one would not consider it tacky. The BCA’s case was designed to suppress writing critical of chiropractic, despite their claims to the contrary. The BCA says they don’t knowingly practice techniques that do not work, but cannot prove that their remedies described by Singh as bogus have any real validity whatsoever. So do they always practice what they don’t know? Is that a stupid question? Personally, I expect that someone who calls themselves a doctor (not that chiropractors go to medical school) bases their “expertise” on time-tested evidence, and is easily capable of demonstrating the measurable benefits of their efforts.

Congratulations to Simon Singh. This is a major victory in the fight for English libel reform and science-based medicine.

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~ by Wil Finley on April 15, 2010.

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