In het allereerste bericht hier op Kloptdatwel schreef ik over Simon Singh, die op het symposium van de Vereniging tegen de Kwakzalverij sprak over (onder andere) zijn problemen in Engeland waar hij aangeklaagd werd wegens smaad. Hij schreef namelijk dat de Britse chiropractors zonder enig bewijs ‘bogus’ behandelingen promoten. In plaats van met bewijs te komen ga je dan dus (aan)klagen.
Onderstaande samenvatting komt van de website Libelreform.org, een website die het herzien van de smaad-wetten in Engeland promoot.
Claimant: British Chiropractic Association (BCA), UK
Respondent: Simon Singh, journalist and author, UK
Simon Singh, the best-selling author of Fermat’s Last Theorem and The Code Book, published an article in the Guardian in April 2008 in which he discussed chiropractic treatment with reference to the British Chiropractic Association.
In a passage describing the BCA’s claims about the treatment of a number of childhood ailments, Singh wrote that ‘even though there is not a jot of evidence’ the BCA ‘happily promotes bogus treatments’.
Despite the article being published in the Guardian, Singh was sued personally. Mr Justice Eady decided on the issue of meaning in May 2009, and found that Singh’s comments were statements of fact, rather than expressions of opinion, which implied that the BCA was being deliberately dishonest. It was a meaning that Singh has said he never intended. Eady refused to grant leave to appeal, although permission was granted by the Court of Appeal itself in October 2009.
As a result of this case, the charity Sense About Science launched a petition for libel reform. Richard Dawkins has said that if Singh loses, it would have ‘major implications on the freedom of scientists, researchers and other commentators to engage in robust criticism of scientific, and pseudoscientific, work’.
BBC One zond onlangs See You In Court uit. Een programma over bijzondere smaad rechtszaken.
Almost two years in the making, See You in Court features unprecedented access to those affected by libel cases and explores how splashes in the media affect the individuals at the heart of them. London has become known as the “libel capital of the world” with people coming from far away to use the British courts and legal system to sue if they feel their privacy has been invaded or their reputation damaged. But what exactly is a reputation, how much is one worth and is it just the rich and famous that get to fight over them?
In this week’s episode we follow science writer Simon Singh and his court battle with the British Chiropractic Association and family man Tristan Rogers who finds himself in hot water, having to defend comments he posted on an online property forum.
De petitie kan nog steeds ondertekend worden op Libelreform.org.