A court ruling today affirmed science writer Simon Singh’s right to free expression. It grants him leave to appeal Mr Justice Eady’s ruling against him in a libel action brought by the British Chiropractic Association, reports Padraig Reidy
Popular science writer Simon Singh has been granted leave to appeal in the libel action brought against him by the British Chiropractic Association.
In a scathing rebuttal of Mr Justice Eady’s previous judgement in the case, Lord Justice Laws said Eady had risked swinging the balance of rights too far in favour of the right to reputation and against the right to free expression. Lord Justice Laws described Eady’s judgement, centred on Singh’s use of the word “bogus” in an article published by the Guardian newspaper, as “legally erroneous”.
Laws also pointed out that Eady’s judgement had conflated two issues — the meaning of the phrases complained of, and the issue of whether the article was presented as fact or fair comment.
Laws said there was “no question” of the “good faith” of Singh in writing the article, as the matter was “clearly in the public interest”.
Speaking after the judgement, Singh told Index on Censorship this was the “best possible result”.
“But I try not to get my hopes up,” he continued. “We have only won leave to appeal. Now we must convince the court of appeal on the issue of meaning. There is a long battle ahead. Reform of English libel laws, particularly the right to a public interest defence and a fairer costs structure, are vital.”
The BCA was not represented at this morning’s hearing.
Additional reporting Síle Lane
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I knew he couldn’t go wrong when the judge’s name is actually Laws!
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I was beginning to think Simon Singh was destined to be totally cursed by our antiquated and draconian legal system. The Court of Appeal’s ruling is the very first bit of judicial good news that we’ve had for his immensely important free speech and public interest campaign.
It’s a small step – and the odds are sadly still stacked against him – but I that hope he and everyone else fighting for reform of this country’s libel laws takes heart from this. It’s vital that we keep the campaign going, and I would urge the Conservatives and Labour to join with the Liberal Democrats in calling for reform of the libel laws. The events of this week (Carter-Ruck and Trafigura) underline how damaging they can be.
[…] Rejoice! Simon Singh wins leave to appeal in BCA libel case! […]
Lord Justice Laws is a great upholder of liberty, albeit from a right field position (Lord Justice Sedley is another, but from the left field)
We must hope that we don’t get one one the more reactionary panels when this is heard in full.
Good news indeed. Is there a link to Justice Law’s rebuttal? I always enjoy reading scathing rebuttals.
Wow. This is a really good result.
Regarding the term ‘legally erroneous’ – is that legalese for ‘he was completely wrong’?