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By Index on Censorship / 14 October 2009
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 LaneTags: BCA | libel | Mr Justice Eady | Simon Singh