After two years of a long and drawn out battle, the BCA has finally caved in and announced they are withdrawing their libel action against Simon Singh.
In a statement, they said:
Having carefully considered its position in the light of the judgment of the Court of Appeal (1st
April 2010), the British Chiropractic Association (BCA) has decided to discontinue its libel
action against Simon Singh.
As previously made clear, the BCA brought the claim because it considered that Simon Singh
had made a serious allegation against its reputation, namely, that the BCA promoted treatments that it knew to be “bogus”.
…the BCA now feels that the time is right for the matter to draw to a close.
Simon recently won the right to appeal the initial decision by Justice Lord over the meaning of the word “bogus” and had stated that he would continue to defend his position, even though he expected the case could cost him 1 million pounds. He has already spent 100, 000 pounds of his own money defending the case.
The action taken by the BCA resulted in significant scrutiny of chiropractic treatments and claims, and following complaints, one in four chiropractors in Britain are currently under investigation for allegedly making misleading claims in advertisements.
In another stunning move, the McTimoney Association of chiropractors (MCA) deleted their website, and advised its members to do the same. In a leaked email they told their members:
REMOVE all the blue MCA patient information leaflets, or any patient information leaflets of your own that state you treat whiplash, colic or other childhood problems in your clinic or at any other site where they might be displayed with your contact details on them. DO NOT USE them until further notice. The MCA are working on an interim replacement leaflet which will be sent to you shortly.
In October 2009, Australian Skeptics had a complaint lodged with the Health Care Complaints Commission (HCCC) following the publication of Singh’s article on their website. Chiropractor Joseph Ierano wrote a letter to the organisation with a detailed but somewhat rambling rebuff of the article, and when he did not receive a response he liked, he went the the HCCC. The complaint was dismissed.
Simon Singh:“The case is not quite over, because we still have to argue over costs. Having backed down and dropped the case, I expect the British Chiropractic Association to pay my legal bill of 200,000 pounds. I fully expect the BCA to argue that they should not pay all my costs, but I think it is the very least that they should do because this entire legal battle has been instigated by the BCA.
The decision by the BCA to wthdraw the action despite being “…advised there are strong grounds for appeal against the Court of Appeal” is a victory for journalists and science writers. Singh said he was hugely relieved, but expressed his annoyance that libel actions continued to be used to block what he viewed as legitimate scientific inquiry and debate. See more on the BBC.
But libel reform is still desperately needed in the UK. Please sign the petition here – you do not have to be a UK resident to sign.
Happy Chiropractic Awareness Week!
More coverage at Sense About Science.
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