Release the hounds!

The British Chiropractic Association has dropped its lawsuit against Simon Singh. This is very, very good news…and to make it even better, Singh is going to go after the BCA for court costs. Drive the fools into the ground! Make them pay!


  1. llewelly says

    However it seems the larger issues of free speech and libel tourism remain. (Simon has previously stated he plans to continue fighting for free speech, and against libel tourism, and that he will continue to support other cases similar to his own.)

  2. recovering catholic says

    Yessss!!! I’ve read that Simon Singh incurred horrendous debt during this fiasco. In addition, this has been so difficult for him and his family that I hope he’s awarded a huge sum for loss of work time, mental anguish, etc., etc. Maybe $3,000,000?

  3. Nerd of Redhead, OM says

    We need some celebration music. Janine or Mr. T? (All I can think of is Coplands Fanfare for the Common Man, and no time to do a Google search. @#$%^ meetings.)

  4. mattand08 says

    I hope Simon gets a judgment that breaks their financial backs.

    I’d bet subluxation would have a hard time fixing that.

  5. Youngie says

    This is the best news I’ve heard in a long time. Not only has Simon been vindicated (effectively) but he is going after costs (which, as far as I am concerned he is more than entitled to).
    The best bit, of course, is that all major parties in the UK claim to be committed to libel reform. Call me a dreamer, but I think there is a possibility that this madness may never be repeated.
    Ah hope, how I’ve missed you.

  6. Steve LaBonne says

    I like Singh even more now that he’s not just going to let bygones be bygones. Those assholes need to be taught a very expensive lesson in freedom of speech.

    But really, something has to be done about the insane UK libel laws. If this case hasn’t made all three major political parties aware of that, what on earth would?

  7. says

    Simon SIngh is a legend*. Fact.

    Not a myth, fww, ymmv, etc.

  8. Glen Davidson says

    Hoping for it to go like Dover, eh?

    Yes, those who insist on trying to make it costly to tell the truth need to find that suppressing truth can be quite costly. Maybe the wooists will learn sense from the Galileo affair eventually?

    Well, no, that’s too much to hope for. Most of them are sure they’re the unjustly persecuted victims — and they might even have some evidence to go on if they weren’t so severely mistreated.

    Glen D

  9. Paul H says

    This is very exciting. Not only has this court case gone favourably, it has woken the sleeping giant of rationality and hopefully will end in some real reform.

  10. Scented Nectar says

    I’m kind of shocked that not only did they try to stifle the guy’s free speech in general, but they tried to stifle accurate truth in his case. It would have been a whole different situation had he been spreading a harmful type of speech, like let’s say, promising that a massage will cure asthma and then causing the harm of pain/money loss when it doesn’t work, or something. :) He was just revealing that the chiropractors were the ones yelling fire in a theatre.

  11. Bernard Bumner says

    Note that Simon has only “won” in the sense that the BCA has dropped their disasterous libel suit against him.

    He should substantially recover his costs (£200,000), but in the best case scenario he still estimates that he will be somewhere in the region of £20,000 out of pocket. Just in costs. Not including his indirect expenses, loss of earnings over the past two years, etc, etc.

    And this is just on the basis of fighting for an initial ruling on the meaning of the case. The libel case did not make it to trial. Simon has only “won” in the court of public opinion. Even though this may seem to be the most important victory of all to those of us who see Chiropractic as quackery, the most important campaign is still left.

    Simon is (rightly) not entitled to damages, and there will be no judgement against the BCA other than an award of costs to Simon, since they have done nothing wrong in the eyes of the law (if not in the minds of some of the highest Justices of the land). The BCA have simply exercised their legal right to sue for defamation, and they have now discontinued that case.

    Do not forget the price that Simon Singh has paid for his courage, but also remember that he was very lucky to be able to afford to take a stand. Honest critics are still being silenced because they don’t have the financial means to fight libel cases. UK libel laws must be reformed.

  12. Moggie says

    And during Chiropractic Awareness Week, no less! Wow, this news has actually put a spring in my step!

  13. tokenadult says

    Singh will be able to recover his actual attorneys’ fees and court costs by the “English rule” of loser pays. (The party that withdraws a lawsuit that it originates would, I think, be regarded as the losing party.) By contrast, in the United States each side pays its own fees and costs, even if the suit was a “strike suit” with no real factual or legal merit. So English libel law is worse than American libel law, but English civil procedure law is arguably better than American civil procedure law.

  14. Prophet Zarquon says

    And, of course, the vile bunch that calls itself the BCA is now saying (in its press release) that Singh’s statement that he never intended to suggest the BCA had been dishonest “goes some way to vindicate its position”.
    Wow. If they actually believe that anyone but Simon Singh has been vindicated, they have just risen to new depths of ignorance.

  15. eyespy says

    Another telling blow in the fight against officially sanctioned quackery.

    Speaking of gangs of idiots…

    Let me preface this by saying that I only read the Huffington Post because it’s a great news roundup site I got hooked on before they got in with all the quacks and loonies.

    However, they got one right on the health/medical front this time:

    I don’t really remember whether or not Dr. Joe Mercola is usually this sensible and well-informed, but he better watch his step.

    If he keeps exposing New Agey health/medical frauds like this he’s going to be out of a job.

  16. jameslawrence01 says
    article is back on grauniad website

    prophet zarquon- If you had just had to admit that your hasty action had brought the ‘profession’ that you claim to represent to its knees, with a quarter of its members being investigated by the GCC (General chiropractic council, the ‘regulatory’ body for chiroquacks) for making the same claims that you did. As a result you have almost bankrupted yourself and the GCC as well as bringing all of the rest of the alt med comunity into a situation where they will find it almost impossible to use the same legal tactics in the UK again…. ( breathe )

    wouldn’t you be a little pissy too?

  17. JJ says

    @eyespy #26
    ‘DR.’Joe Mercola is a fine quackmaster, one of the wooiest. Orac routinely servers him heaping helpings of not-so-respectful-insolence.

  18. eyespy says

    “‘DR.’Joe Mercola is a fine quackmaster, one of the wooiest. Orac routinely servers him heaping helpings of not-so-respectful-insolence.”

    That’s what I thought. He’s the guy who was talking nonsense about us never dying but living on as some sort of electro-spirit essence, right?

    You have to admit, though, that he’s spot on in that piece.

    The visually-impaired Sciurus is living large on a cashew tonight.

  19. DavidCT says

    The only problem is that it will take a lot of back quacking to pay off the bill.

  20. v.rosenzweig says

    Flea @25:

    I believe you have just insulted a lot of perfectly respectable homosexuals. While that isn’t libel in any legal sense, please, there’s quite enough that the Pope has actually done wrong to use against him.


  21. Brian says

    I have nothing to add to the discussion; I just like saying “The BCA happily promotes bogus treatments.”

    The BCA happily promotes bogus treatments.


  22. tsg says

    I believe you have just insulted a lot of perfectly respectable homosexuals. While that isn’t libel in any legal sense, please, there’s quite enough that the Pope has actually done wrong to use against him.

    You’re missing the joke. Go to and type “The Pope is a” in the search field and see what Google suggests. Or follow the link that was provided.

  23. cdesignproponentsist says

    I was going to say something xkcd-esque, but there wasn’t enough space in the margin.


  24. JJ says

    Yeah, he makes a valid point that agave isn’t good for you. All I can say is – duh! I personally like agave syrup for a)it’s taste and b)Makes some great Pulque. There’s nothing healthy or even healthier than any other sugary syrup. Anyone who thinks otherwise is delusional.

  25. Rick Miller says

    Good news on both sides of the pond!!
    (The “National Day of Prayer” has been declared unconstitutional in US federal court.)

  26. Chris Hegarty says

    @39: Hooray!

    @40: I lost faith in Discovery quite a while ago; I generally stick to Nova or re-watch Cosmos for the five hundred billionth time.


  27. jidashdee says


    The only problem is that it will take a lot of back quacking to pay off the bill.

    I just thought that deserved to be said again. It left a pungent odour in the air. Well done to you, Sir!

  28. martha says

    They still need to reform UK libel law, as the risk of a similar claim by others who criticize quackery is still there.

    I hope Singh will at least have a big career boost out of this and can make some bucks off a book or something.

  29. Atticus_of_Amber says

    Just some background information on the issue of “costs” (I’m an Australian lawyer and so am pretty familiar with the British system, upon which the Australian system is based).

    Britain and Australia do indeed have a “loser pays” system. “Costs follow the event” – that is, usually, the loser in a legal action pays the winners “costs”.

    However, “costs” are measured in a special way so that the winner does not usually get all of his or her legal expenses back. Costs are usually ordered on the “ordinary” or “party-party” basis. This is a system where the winner gets his or her costs according to a court imposed scale of fees. If the winner’s lawyers charged more than that (and they usually do), the winner will be out of pocket for the difference. As a rule of thumb, party-party costs usually come out to between two-thirds and three-quarters of the real costs.

    However, in exceptional cases, a court may order the loser to pay the winner’s costs on the “indemnity costs” or “solicitor and client” basis. This means that the loser has to reimburse the winner for all the costs actually incurred (in some jurisdictions there is an “out” for patently unreasonable costs). Indemnity costs are usually only awarded for misconduct in the running of the case or for bringing a case that the loser should have known had no reasonable chance of winning.

    (There’s also a rather nasty system to encourage pre-trial settlement under which if, before the verdict, the loser offered the winner a settlement figure that was actually better for the winner than the amount eventually awarded 9i.e. if the winner would have been better off accepting the settlement than going to trial), the loser only has to pay the winner’s costs up until the time he or she made the offer; after that point, the winner has to pay the loser’s costs on the indemnity basis.)

    From the reports, it seems to me that Simon has only been awarded costs on the ordinary basis. There doesn’t appear to be anything here which would justify an order for indemnity costs. It’s a sad comment on the British (and Australian) law of libel that the BCA’s case *did* have reasonable prospects of success. Indeed, had the trial judge’s preliminary rulings stood, I think the BCA would have won at trial.

  30. davros says

    Singh is a superstar for rationality and in the long run he will have the last laugh even if he doesn’t get adequate costs. Better still I am confident he will use the fame he has garnered wisely.

    And now everybody knows that the BCA promotes bogus treatments.

  31. MadScientist says

    Hehehe; the BCA are still crying that they’ve been defamed (but have given up hope of being able to prove it). Just don’t forget that chiropracty is alive and well in the USA as well; in fact it’s been growing. Maybe it’s just the environment I grew up in, but when I was a kid everyone poo-pooed chiropracty.

  32. Charlie Foxtrot says

    Anyone know (Atticus?) if he could/would/should go after the BCA for lost earnings, or somesuch?

  33. Donald Oats says

    It does seem ridiculous that Simon Singh gets taken to task for making a perfectly obvious statement about the BCA and specific chiropractic procedures in particular. If a big pseudo-medical group claim that their members can cure all manner of diseases that they manifestly cannot, then there really ought to be a penalty on them, not on the journalist who calls them on it. But they aren’t libelling or defaming anyone, they are “just” telling pork pies about their products and services, with potentially disastrous results for the patients.

    In Australia (good Atheist Convention in Melbourne BTW, that’s one T-shirt I did buy!), health insurance companies and some GPs are too quick to push the “complementary medicine” button. Why on Earth do health insurance companies waste money on complementary medicine?

  34. defides says

    Simon Singh isn’t “going after” the BCA for costs.

    The Claimant has filed a Notice of Discontinuance. When this happens the Notice is either by consent, in which case the parties will already have agreed what is going to happen about costs, or if it is not by consent then by the Civil Procedure Rules a costs order against the discontinuing party automatically follows.

    You know, if people writing about law fucked up the science they wrote about as often and hopelessly as bloggers and commenters fuck up the law, the blogosphere would choke under the pressure of the all flapping.

    I suppose it is because lawyers are the more humble and likely to recognise their own areas of ignorance – whereas every idiot thinks he understands without effort the complexities of every arcane area of law.