David Blackburn

A rare victory for free speech

A rare victory for free speech
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The British Chiropractic Association has dropped its libel suit against Simon Singh. Singh’s original crime? Heinously, he described the Association’s claims that spinal manipulation would treat children suffering from cholic or feeding disorders as “bogus”. Last month, the Court of Appeal ruled in favour of a libel defendant on the grounds of ‘fair comment’, which increased Singh’s chances of victory.

As the Spectator’s latest cover piece illustrates, perverse British libel laws are used to gag free speech, discourage investigation and to intimidate. ‘Publish and be damned’ is a thrilling if self-indulgent mantra, but a free press should not need to utter it. Today is a small move towards that goal. Once again however, it is the maligned courts that have protected liberty, not the legislature.