Malicious Characters

On October 14th, the British Chiropractic Association (BCA) issued a press release in response to Simon Singh's being granted leave to appeal the libel suit brought against him by the BCA. Singh, they argue, has been claiming the issue is one of freedom of speech whereas they see it as a simple libel case when Singh claimed they promoted 'bogus' treatments. In the original article, Singh said
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. This organisation is the respectable face of the chiropractic profession and yet it happily promotes bogus treatments.
Obviously not happy with the latest ruling, the BCA said in their press release:
The BCA supports and would never seek to stifle legitimate open scientific debate. However, this action is actually a simple libel claim based on the fact that the BCA was maliciously attacked by Dr. Singh in the Guardian newspaper.(link - PDF)
In essence, the BCA has stated publicly that Singh's criticisms regarding the BCA were designed specifically with the intent to cause harm with no scientific or legal justification backing them up. That is, the BCA has said Simon Singh is a malicious character, from which we can imply that all his writings in the past and the future are not to be trusted because they may have been written with other goals in mind than simply to inform the public. Or in other words, Simon Singh is not a reputable character. I don't believe it, but their are some who may buy into it, and therefore Singh's reputation may have been damaged by the BCA. The excellent blog, Jack of Kent, argues that it is Singh who might have grounds to sue for defamation. Funny how the tables turn in this case.

The BCA updated their press release to tone down the nastiness, to say that "the BCA was libeled by Dr. Singh" rather than "the BCA was maliciously attacked by Dr. Singh". Still, their original words are out their in the public domain. As the British courts have noted, it doesn't matter what they intended to say - it matters what they said, an argument that has been used against Singh himself.

(H/T:  Bad Astronomy)

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