Journalist’s Criticism of Chiropractors was ‘Fair Comment’


A British journalist has won his case against the British Chiropractic Association (BCA) after the Court of Appeal ruled that an article he had written for the Guardian newspaper was ‘fair comment’. The newspaper article alleged that the BCA promoted chiropractic treatment for illnesses and afflictions, such as colic and childhood asthma, which were ‘bogus’ and not supported by scientific evidence.
The judgment of the Court determined that the default position in cases in which a science journalist criticized evidence and was sued for libel would be one of fair comment.
Despite having won the libel action against him, the journalist, Dr Simon Singh, is likely only to recover 70 per cent of the £200,000 he has spent defending the claim. His ‘win’ has left him liable for £60,000 of his own costs, an amount that could rise if the BCA is unable to pay the rest.
Whilst Dr Singh said he felt a huge sense of relief, he had spent nearly half of the last two years working on the claim. If the case had gone to full trial, his legal bill could have reached £1 million. He welcomed the forthcoming libel law reforms, but added that changes to the current system needed to be radical.
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