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Unbelievable - Singh case

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grammar king
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Unbelievable - Singh case

#1 Post by grammar king » May 7th, 2009, 5:28 pm

Now I'm not so sure what we can/can't say on account of the case continuing, but have you seen this?

The BCA's libel case against Simon Singh was not nipped in the bud at today's hearing, they were upheld by the Judge. A judge who is supposed to be able to weigh up evidence.

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Alan H
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Re: Unbelievable - Singh case

#2 Post by Alan H » May 7th, 2009, 9:56 pm

Yes, we were there. It was disgraceful. There's a short post about the day on Index on Censorship (see below), but I assume Jack of Kent will write something fuller soon. As I understand it, to win, Simon has to prove something he did not claim: that the BCA were knowingly dishonest.
********************************************************************************
Index on Censorship » Eady rules against Singh in chiropractic defamation case
http://www.indexoncensorship.org/2009/0 ... tion-case/
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Eady rules against Singh in chiropractic defamation case
07May09 – 16:27

The English High Court has ruled that science writer Simon Singh, must show that the British Chiropractic Association (BCA) was deliberately dishonest in promoting chiropractic as a treatment for various children’s ailments.

Mr Justice Eady ruled, with notes apparently written prior to today’s preliminary hearing, that an article by Singh, published in the Guardian should be classified as a ’statement’ and added that by use of the word ‘bogus’ Singh had inferred he believed the BCA had intent to convey dishonest claims to the British public.

In light of this ruling the matter may not go to trial. From Singh’s standing he does not believe the BCA had intent to deceive and therefore cannot prove this.

Mr Justice Eady refused an appeal on the judgement but Index on Censorship has been told that Singh still will not stand down, and intends to pursue his defence by going to the court of appeals. If this is rejected he may then go to Strasbourg and appeal to the European Human Rights Commission.

Costs of £23,000, relating to the preliminary hearing, have been awarded to the BCA.

[Retrieved: Thu May 07 2009 21:53:32 GMT+0100 (GMT Standard Time)]

###################
Alan Henness

There are three fundamental questions for anyone advocating Brexit:

1. What, precisely, are the significant and tangible benefits of leaving the EU?
2. What damage to the UK and its citizens is an acceptable price to pay for those benefits?
3. Which ruling of the ECJ is most persuasive of the need to leave its jurisdiction?

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grammar king
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Re: Unbelievable - Singh case

#3 Post by grammar king » May 7th, 2009, 10:54 pm

IIRC all his comment said were about bogus treatments. I don't see how the word bogus could possibly imply there that they were knowingly deceitful, otherwise he would've said "knowingly bogus treatments."

Well, they know there's no evidence and they know there have been deaths so even so he might be able to do it.

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Alan H
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Re: Unbelievable - Singh case

#4 Post by Alan H » May 7th, 2009, 10:58 pm

More on it by Martin at Lay Scientist and on Ben Goldacre's forum [---][/---] the topic was started at 15:26 this afternoon and already has 100 posts!
Alan Henness

There are three fundamental questions for anyone advocating Brexit:

1. What, precisely, are the significant and tangible benefits of leaving the EU?
2. What damage to the UK and its citizens is an acceptable price to pay for those benefits?
3. Which ruling of the ECJ is most persuasive of the need to leave its jurisdiction?

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Alan H
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Re: Unbelievable - Singh case

#5 Post by Alan H » May 8th, 2009, 1:14 pm

Charles's FIH lot issue a press release on it, but they can't even get basic facts right. They can't even copy and paste a quote. No surprise there, then.
Alan Henness

There are three fundamental questions for anyone advocating Brexit:

1. What, precisely, are the significant and tangible benefits of leaving the EU?
2. What damage to the UK and its citizens is an acceptable price to pay for those benefits?
3. Which ruling of the ECJ is most persuasive of the need to leave its jurisdiction?

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Alan H
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Re: Unbelievable - Singh case

#6 Post by Alan H » May 8th, 2009, 1:23 pm

Sorry, got to do this:
Simon Singh vs. chiropractors in libel case
No. It was the BCA (not all chiroquacks) against Simon, not the other way round.
The British Chiropractic Association has won a libel case against science writer Simon Singh.
I need confirmation (Jack of Kent will be blogging on it in detail shortly), but they won the preliminary hearing, not the whole case.
Singh wrote an article in the Guardian, which included the sentence:

The British Chiropractic Association claims that their members can help treat children with colic, sleeping and feeding problems, frequent ear infections, asthma and prolonged crying, even though there is not a jot of evidence. The organisation is the respectable face of the chiropractic profession and yet it happily promotes bogus treatments.
Pedantic, perhaps, but there's one word different. But isn't it important (and easy) to get these things right?
However Singh will now appeal for a right to appeal.
Although this is very likely, who are they to say what Simon may or may not decide. We will all know for certain if and when an appeal is lodged.
Alan Henness

There are three fundamental questions for anyone advocating Brexit:

1. What, precisely, are the significant and tangible benefits of leaving the EU?
2. What damage to the UK and its citizens is an acceptable price to pay for those benefits?
3. Which ruling of the ECJ is most persuasive of the need to leave its jurisdiction?

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Alan H
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Re: Unbelievable - Singh case

#7 Post by Alan H » May 8th, 2009, 4:24 pm

I've been looking at the BCA and posted about them on The Lay Scientist, but repeat the posts here.
One thing is certain: regardless of why the BCA didn't pursue the Guardian, the damage has been done in that people have read the paper and the online article and will have been left with an impression of what Simon said. If they finally win, they get no more than the satisfaction that they have won and that their lawyers have made a packet or too.

If they had pursued the Guardian as well, then it would seem likely that they would have to have published an apology of some sort. They way they have done it - just going after an individual - they get no such public apology and the 'harm' that was done to them never gets corrected as far as most of the original readers are concerned.

Does this make sense? Have the BCA complained to the PCC? If not, why not?

If you were in charge of the reputation of such a membership organisation, would you not owe it to your members to do everything you could to get a public apology? Perhaps the damage done was just not that great after all?

Or was the Guardian just too big for them to take on?

The BCA has 1,029 members (including 6 abroad). (The GCC have 3,110, so the BCA don't represent half the GCC members as was claimed yesterday.) I can't find their fees mentioned on their website, but let's take a guess at £100 per annum, although this does seem very high - perhaps £50 is nearer the mark. Anyway, this gives them an annual income from fees of £100,000. It doesn't look likely that they have any other significant source of income (a check on their Companies House records would confirm this - I've just bought them, so I'll look through them and let you know). They were awarded costs of £23,000 (plus VAT) yesterday, which is what their lawyers would have charged them. I they had taken on the Guardian as well, this could have been significantly more! Could they really have afforded to risk half their annual income on this?
OK. Their income from subscriptions in 2007 (FY to 31 December) was £1.65 million. Their membership certainly seems to be 1,029 (http://www.chiropractic-uk.co.uk/member ... urname=%25), making their average subscription £1,600. Does this seem right? Even providing 'professional insurance' and whatever else they provide, this seems steep, particularly bearing in mind every quack still has to register with the GCC. Can anyone compare that with other similar (!) organisations?

Their total income in 2007 was just under £1.9 million (so the vast majority comes from subscriptions), their expenditure just over £1.7 million, giving a surplus for the year of £112,000. They had £695,360 in the bank.

Some other figures:

They have 9 employees, earning an mean salary of £17,000.

They forked out £745,992 for 'Professional insurance'.

They paid £105,000 for 'Public relations expenses'.

£78,437 for 'honoraria'. To whom is not specified.

They paid out £10,924 in unspecified 'donations'.

£150,000 for membership of other organisations.

£7,189 for 'X-rays'! (Perhaps they x-ray their staff every year to ensure they are all healthy?)

£50,000 on 'Research'. (Not much really, but they spent zilch the previous year.)

£19,826 on 'Legal and professional'.

So, their lawyers bill, if Simon hadn't had to pay it would have more than doubled their legal bill, but, considering their total reserves of just short of £1 million, they are well placed to fight several Simon Singhs!

They still haven't filed their 2008 accounts (to 31 December), so we don't know if anything has changed significantly since 2007.
Alan Henness

There are three fundamental questions for anyone advocating Brexit:

1. What, precisely, are the significant and tangible benefits of leaving the EU?
2. What damage to the UK and its citizens is an acceptable price to pay for those benefits?
3. Which ruling of the ECJ is most persuasive of the need to leave its jurisdiction?

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Re: Unbelievable - Singh case

#8 Post by Alan H » May 8th, 2009, 4:28 pm

Jack of Kent has just posted his summary.
Alan Henness

There are three fundamental questions for anyone advocating Brexit:

1. What, precisely, are the significant and tangible benefits of leaving the EU?
2. What damage to the UK and its citizens is an acceptable price to pay for those benefits?
3. Which ruling of the ECJ is most persuasive of the need to leave its jurisdiction?

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Re: Unbelievable - Singh case

#9 Post by Alan H » May 8th, 2009, 4:40 pm

The GCC charge £1,250 for the first year and £1,000 subsequently. We've heard a lot about other quacks not wanting to pay £45 to join OfQuack, so are chiroquacks willing to fork out another £1,600 to join the BCA?
Alan Henness

There are three fundamental questions for anyone advocating Brexit:

1. What, precisely, are the significant and tangible benefits of leaving the EU?
2. What damage to the UK and its citizens is an acceptable price to pay for those benefits?
3. Which ruling of the ECJ is most persuasive of the need to leave its jurisdiction?

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Emma Woolgatherer
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Re: Unbelievable - Singh case

#10 Post by Emma Woolgatherer » May 8th, 2009, 4:50 pm

grammar king wrote:IIRC all his comment said were about bogus treatments. I don't see how the word bogus could possibly imply there that they were knowingly deceitful, otherwise he would've said "knowingly bogus treatments."
The word "bogus" is commonly defined as "fake" or "counterfeit". (Apparently it was first used to describe a machine for making counterfeit coins.) All three words imply deceit. There's no need for the word "knowingly" or "deliberate". You can't have accidental deceit (although you can have accidental deceptiveness). Similarly, a treatment can't be accidentally bogus. However, what Singh said was: "This organisation is the respectable face of the chiropractic profession and yet it happily promotes bogus treatments." The word "bogus" implies deceit, but in this context it doesn't necessarily imply that the BCA is doing the deceiving. One could promote a bogus treatment without knowing that it's bogus. One could even happily promote a bogus treatment without knowing that it's bogus. But if one is in a position where one ought to know that a treatment is bogus, and one happily promotes it, then one is being stupid or irresponsible or negligent. Singh does explain that he can confidently call the treatments bogus because he knows that they are ineffective. I don't think that's good enough, because he doesn't explain who he thinks is being deceitful, who is claiming that they're effective while knowing that they're not, if not the BCA. Maybe he doesn't think that anyone was being deceitful, but in that case "bogus" was not a good choice of words. Nevertheless, his implication was that he believes that the BCA is irresponsible in claiming that the treatments are effective. He doesn't claim that the BCA knows that they are ineffective, but implies that they should have known. That, I think, is a reasonable expression of opinion. I think he should have been able to use the fair comment defence. Journalists have said far, far worse things about individuals and got away with it using the fair comment defence.

Emma

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Re: Unbelievable - Singh case

#11 Post by jdc » May 8th, 2009, 5:09 pm

Alan H wrote:More on it by Martin at Lay Scientist and on Ben Goldacre's forum [---][/---] the topic was started at 15:26 this afternoon and already has 100 posts!
That's why I've not been on Think Humanism today. Too busy reading the Bad Science thread on Singh and writing to my MP about our libel laws.
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Re: Unbelievable - Singh case

#12 Post by Alan H » May 8th, 2009, 5:29 pm

jdc wrote:...writing to my MP about our libel laws.
Would you like to post your letter here so that others could crib it?
Alan Henness

There are three fundamental questions for anyone advocating Brexit:

1. What, precisely, are the significant and tangible benefits of leaving the EU?
2. What damage to the UK and its citizens is an acceptable price to pay for those benefits?
3. Which ruling of the ECJ is most persuasive of the need to leave its jurisdiction?

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Re: Unbelievable - Singh case

#13 Post by Maria Mac » May 8th, 2009, 9:46 pm

I've blogged on it here.

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Alan H
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Re: Unbelievable - Singh case

#14 Post by Alan H » May 9th, 2009, 12:43 am

Alan H wrote:
However Singh will now appeal for a right to appeal.
Although this is very likely, who are they to say what Simon may or may not decide. We will all know for certain if and when an appeal is lodged.
Charles obviously read this post! Their website now says:
However Singh will may now appeal for a right to appeal in the next three weeks.
They just can't make up their minds!
Alan Henness

There are three fundamental questions for anyone advocating Brexit:

1. What, precisely, are the significant and tangible benefits of leaving the EU?
2. What damage to the UK and its citizens is an acceptable price to pay for those benefits?
3. Which ruling of the ECJ is most persuasive of the need to leave its jurisdiction?

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Re: Unbelievable - Singh case

#15 Post by jdc » May 14th, 2009, 5:18 pm

From Jack Of Kent on twitter:
Event details now on Facebook for Support Simon and Free Speech - Please circulate widely http://tinyurl.com/qqnzb8
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Re: Unbelievable - Singh case

#16 Post by jdc » May 14th, 2009, 5:23 pm

Alan H wrote:
jdc wrote:...writing to my MP about our libel laws.
Would you like to post your letter here so that others could crib it?
I would recommend that people use their own words, but here is the gist of it in case anyone finds it useful:
Dear X

[yada, yada, yada]

The libel laws of England and Wales are skewed against the defendant to such an extent and involve such monumental costs that libel tourism is now common and we also have a situation in this country where only the rich can afford to sue and – perhaps more pertinently – only the rich can afford to defend a lawsuit of this nature. As Geoffrey Wheatcroft once wrote: “In Britain, we now have the worst of all worlds. Obscure people are hounded by the gutter press, but the libel laws shield “malefactors of great wealth” from criticism and make our courts a playground for the international rich.”

In the United States the plaintiff must prove that the claims against him are false, but in English law claims made by the defendants are presumed false until proven otherwise. This has the effect that the defendent must demonstrate his innocence, a situation I consider unjust and a burden on free speech.

I would be in favour of a new libel act. One that provides a statutory defence of public interest. One that would remove the burden of proof from the defendant. One where the plaintiff must show actual material damage suffered.

[yada, yada, yada]

Kind regards,
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Re: Unbelievable - Singh case

#17 Post by jdc » May 14th, 2009, 6:01 pm

Maria wrote:I've blogged on it here.
Just been reading it - nice post Maria.
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Re: Unbelievable - Singh case

#18 Post by jdc » May 14th, 2009, 8:09 pm

It's probably bad form to post successive comments on the same thread, but there's a petition here which I think is worth publicising: http://petitions.number10.gov.uk/reformlibellaws/


PS - my latest batch of requested library books arrived today. I'm starting with Trick or Treatment. :smile:
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Re: Unbelievable - Singh case

#19 Post by Alan H » May 14th, 2009, 9:29 pm

jdc wrote:It's probably bad form to post successive comments on the same thread...
Not a problem!
I'm starting with Trick or Treatment. :smile:
It was the chiroquack wot did it!

It's an excellent book [---][/---] have you read Rose Shapiro's book, Suckers[---][/---] How alternative medicine makes fools of us all?

Singed the petition, with the added comment after my name:
(chiro is bogus)
Alan Henness

There are three fundamental questions for anyone advocating Brexit:

1. What, precisely, are the significant and tangible benefits of leaving the EU?
2. What damage to the UK and its citizens is an acceptable price to pay for those benefits?
3. Which ruling of the ECJ is most persuasive of the need to leave its jurisdiction?

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Re: Unbelievable - Singh case

#20 Post by Alan H » May 14th, 2009, 10:16 pm

Alan Henness

There are three fundamental questions for anyone advocating Brexit:

1. What, precisely, are the significant and tangible benefits of leaving the EU?
2. What damage to the UK and its citizens is an acceptable price to pay for those benefits?
3. Which ruling of the ECJ is most persuasive of the need to leave its jurisdiction?

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