Simon Singh wins his appeal: hurrah

The judgment of the Court of Appeal is here.   It is excellent and contains a very clear explanation of the current rules and what has happened so far.

Something I hadn’t been aware of was that the BCA chose to sue Dr Singh, but not the Guardian.  This is very unusual for the extremely practical reason that it is usually the publisher rather than the author who has the cash.  The decision to sue Simon Singh alone creates, as the C of A say, the “unhappy impression” that the BCA was trying to “silence one its critics.”  It also makes the litigation even more of a personal attack than litigation usually is.

The Court of Appeal’s judgment is about the specific meaning of Dr Singh’s article.  As they say themselves, they are not commenting on the wider issues which are the principal subject of the libel reform campaign (like the extent of the Reynolds defence).  This is simply reflective of the fact that Simon Singh’s case is not in itself an example of bad libel law.  It is just an example of a wrong decision by the judge.  This has now been put right by the Court of Appeal.

The BCA’s official reaction is here.

Rather amusingly they say they are contemplating an appeal to the Supreme Court (what the House of Lords is now called).  That is hopeless, because you can only appeal to the Supreme Court on a point of law of general public interest.  There is no such point in Dr Singh’s case.  The BCA also say they are “considering their position.”  Now that is a bit more realistic.   I imagine it will settle soon.

Hope they have to agree to pay lots of costs.  Including Dr Singh’s lawyers’ CFA fees.

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4 Responses

  1. […] There has been extensive coverage of the Simon Singh case in the press and on the blogs.   We were very interested to read a thoughtful analysis by a Singh supporter on the Heresy Corner blog, under the headline “Simon Singh Appeal Ruling: Right result, wrong reasons?“   In addition, we draw attention to the postings on  Cearta.ie, on the Free Speech Law blog and on Two Cultures. […]

  2. Hey, great blog. I followed a link from Jack Of Kent and promptly spent a solid hour reading your archives and various linked judgements.

    I do have a question for you. I note that you’ve written favourably of a lot of Mr Justice Eady’s judgements (thanks particularly for your summary of Mahfouz vs Ehrenfeld). I’m still trying to come to some kind of opinion on whether he’s the public menace that the newspapers purport.

    One deciding factor for me would be his handling of BCA vs Singh. I know stuff-all about this sort of law, but this case scares the bejeezus out of me, and to a layperson the reported conduct of Eady J seems… surprising:

    “I was in court. The judge did not take a single note during the oral submissions of the BCA, and he hardly took a note during Singh’s submissions. The reason for this soon became painfully clear. He had already prepared his ruling before even hearing the oral arguments.”

    Before I start burning effigies, I wanted to check:
    1) is this usual behaviour for a judge?
    2) if not, would it be considered inappropriate?
    3) in your opinion, does this support the suggestion that Mr Justice Eady’s ruling was insufficiently thought out?

    I’m aware that lawyers have to be insanely careful about commenting on judges. Any information or opinion you feel comfortable giving would be gratefully received.

  3. What a joy to read, not just for the substance, but for the fact that the Court of Appeal is willing to quote from Areopagitica

  4. Reading that BCA response, do I detect a strong whiff of Blaming Our Lawyers?

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