From 20 February 2010, 14:05
[Edit 21/02/2010: Jack of Kent’s latest post on Simon Singh’s libel case.]
Here is some info on Libel Reform, how I got into it, why it’s important etc. mostly recycled from old Facebook notes.
New Scientist particularly recounts Nick Cohen’s descriptions of ridiculous cases brought to the London courts that were won, despite simple common sense saying they should not even have got to the court in the first place (not that I’m a lawyer so I don’t know – legal flatmates, jump in! When the exams are over…)
Skeptics in the Pub is every 3rd Monday of the month in Holborn [and now in Westminster too] and there are a few groups:
This was May 18th; got a message that Dave Gorman was speaking and I think he’s brilliant!! [Edit: he very, very kindly allowed me to have a cheesey photo with him. I don’t usually go up to celebrity-types but just couldn’t resist. Cool guy.]
Anywho, there was a talk from Simon Singh, who is being sued by the British Chiropractic Association for saying some of their claims were BS.
Line-up: Dave Gorman, Dr Evan Harris MP, Nick Cohen and Simon Singh introduced by Prof. Brian Cox.
The meeting was chaired by Prof. Chris French and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It’s great to feel at the centre of a movement that’s really pushing to get something done, something that’s incredibly important. The atmosphere is fantastic; friendly and fun (and boozey…). I also met Dr. Armand Leroi, whose programmes I have enjoyed!
Followed by October update:
Simon spoke about the issues with our libel laws on BBC Newsnight, following a SitP Westminster meeting (which I couldn’t make, sadly!).
Ian Hislop also exposed the problem nicely on that week’s Have I Got News For You.
This Trafigura incident is similar to Simon’s issue with the BCA. [Update: Richard Wilson on Trafigura and Libel]
In case you’re still unfamiliar with the story, Simon’s being sued by the British Chiropractic Association for saying some of their claims about homeopathy being a cure or valid treatment for things like HIV, colic, malaria and all sorts of things totally unrelated to the spine or sensory perception of flowery smells – are a bit bollocks. The word used was ‘bogus’ and despite justifying exactly what that meant in the very next sentence of his article, our courts are upholding the complaint so far.
His permission to appeal is a good step forward but the battle is not over.
The implications are huge; please see previous notes for more examples of people getting protection they do not deserve from criticism, using our twisted libel laws.
Sense About Science supports the campaign.
When journalists and indeed Joe Blogger are too scared of speaking their minds, lest they have their finances decimated by such action, the fundamental requirements for progress are blocked. If criticism cannot be aired, nonsense claims are made left right and centre, people believe these things with no one having the ability to speak out against them… the consequences are not pretty.