Intended for healthcare professionals


Chiropractors: clarifying the issues

BMJ 2009; 339 doi: (Published 09 July 2009) Cite this as: BMJ 2009;339:b2782
  1. Richard Brown, practising chiropractor and vice president of the British Chiropractic Association
  1. brown.richard{at}

    It is quite remarkable that scientists should expect themselves to become exempted from the laws of the land for publishing defamatory comments, be they about an individual or an organisation. Having mustered an army of supporters, including Evan Harris,1 Simon Singh has redefined the battle as one of free speech and the stifling of scientific debate.2 It is nothing of the sort.

    The British Chiropractic Association (BCA) neither wished nor intended this matter to end up in the courtroom. When Dr Singh went on the offensive against the BCA and spoke of it promoting bogus treatments that had “not a jot” of evidence to support them,3 it was entirely understandable that the BCA should seek to have what were untrue and defamatory comments withdrawn in order to protect its reputation. It sought from Dr Singh a retraction of the allegations along with a public apology. Scientific debate could then have continued away from the law courts. However, despite receiving invitations to retract and apologise, Dr Singh refused to do either.

    This case was never about enrichment; it was about fairly correcting libellous statements made about a respected national association representing more than half of the nation’s …

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