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Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Simon Singh speaks

Unless you've been away or had your head in the sand, you'll most likely have heard that Simon Singh was on the wrong side of a High Court libel verdict a couple of weeks ago. On Monday night some 250+ (possibly as many as 400) people packed into a Holborn pub to show their support and hear what Simon would do next.

The long and the short of it is that, while many were anticipating Simon's decision, he still can't say for certain. While he very much hopes to appeal in the European courts, he and his lawyers remain in discussions, determining whether they have a defensible case or not. He hopes to reach a final decision by 28 May. But he did have this to say (as the New Humanist blog reported):

While mounting an appeal is risky because he may lose, Simon gave three reasons why it is the right option - 1) he might win, 2) he wants his day in court to talk about what the Guardian article actually meant, and 3) most importantly this case is about broader issues that the validity of chiropractic - it is "about the need to be able to write about issues fairly and reasonably without being intimidated". It is something that matters for all journalists, and ties into the wider issues concerning British libel law.
Needless to say, he very much had the support of the crowd and thousands more nationwide and across the interwebs, all of whom are aware that this is about more than just one writer and a single court case.

It was an inspiring evening, with the fabulous attendance matched by a variety of strong speakers, including the comedian and author Dave Gorman, journalist Nick Cohen and Evan Harris MP. One of the most interesting aspects for me was Gorman's admission that he, like many others, knew little of chiropractic and regarded it as just a legitimate form of treatment for back pain. By suing Simon Singh, the British Chiropractic Association has, he said, brought attention to the full range of treatments they offer.

There are already several good accounts of the night in the blogosphere, so I'll point out to a brief selection:

>> New Humanist
>> Dave Gorman's Blog
>> New Scientist blog

The best source for up-to-date information remains the blog of Jack of Kent, the lawyer who has been a staunch supporter of Simon since the beginning.