Appeal court judges say scientific controversies must be settled by science not law

BMJ 2010; 340 doi: (Published 01 April 2010) Cite this as: BMJ 2010;340:c1895
  1. Clare Dyer
  1. 1BMJ

    The science writer Simon Singh has won a landmark victory at the Court of Appeal in London giving stronger free speech protection to writers facing libel threats for raising issues of scientific controversy.

    Three of the most senior judges in England and Wales have allowed his appeal against a high court preliminary ruling that when he accused the British Chiropractic Association (BCA) of “happily promoting bogus treatments” he could not claim the defence of “fair comment” (BMJ 2009;338:b2127, doi:10.1136/bmj.b2127).

    Lord Judge, the lord chief justice, said he and his fellow judges adopted a statement by Judge Easterbrook, now chief judge of the US Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals: “[Plaintiffs] cannot, by simply filing suit and crying ‘character assassination,’ silence those who hold divergent views, no matter how adverse those views …

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