Biteback (the publishing company owned by Iain Dale) recently published a biography of Wayne Rooney called Rooney’s Gold. It’s by investigative journalist John Sweeney. It is also the subject of a very very poor front page story (even by their sewer standards) on today’s Daily Star.
Stay calm folks, this post isn’t about football. It’s about bullying and threats.
You know, the “reputation management” people whose clients include that well known bastion of ethics Phorm. Now some of the people involved in the anti-Phorm and anti-DPI campaign can tell you a bit about Schillings. Here’s one example. Threats over information already in the public domain.
Read Iain Dale’s response to the pathetic Daily Star, about WHSmith’s capitulation and Schillings’ attempts to bully Biteback into censoring the book by intimidating their customers. One point in particular highlights another reason why this country needs libel reform:
If publishers accede to threats like this it effectively means that no one can write a celebrity biography any longer unless it is a complete hagiography. Our libel laws are allowing the likes of Schillings to threaten, bully and intimidate authors and publishers into abandoning perfectly legitimate books for fear of their whole company’s existence coming under threat. This cannot be right and any reform of the libel laws must surely encompass this aspect of the law.
I’m not a football fan but I may well buy the book to support Biteback and spite Schillings.
It is finished. An exciting election which gave us some compelling theatre and drove the media speculation machine into overdrive has finally given us a new Prime Minister and a Conservative – Liberal Democrat coalition government. The control freakery and paranoia of New Labour has been rejected. Nick Clegg had achieved that which every Liberal, SDP and now Liberal Democrat leader during my life had desired – to have the balance of power in their hands.
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The British Chiropractic Association’s decision to throw in the towel against Simon Singh has continued the debate about the need for libel reform. What the events leading up to this capitulation also show is the increasing resolve and influence of those who are online. The geeks, if you will.
Nick Cohen’s piece on the Guardian website, “Now charlatans will know to beware the geeks” is interesting stuff, telling how the author attended a gathering in support of Simon Singh…
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The British Chiropractic Association has thrown in the towel and dropped its case against science writer Simon Singh. This means that Simon has won his case after dedicating two years of his life and over £200,000 to defending his opinions.
Simon’s case has highlighted the desperate need for the reform of libel laws in the UK. It has also highlighted the issues of claims made by some alternative health practitioners and genuine scientific discussion.
That Simon has won his case is good news. Libel reform is needed now. It needs to be a major overhaul to prevent libel tourism and legal bullying (this story from The Spectator about Charlie Whelan comes to mind). As Simon says (I did try not to say that, honest!) “The case is not quite over”.
If the BCA has any honour it should now pay all of Simon’s legal costs from this case. It was the BCA who instigated the legal battle.
Do read the Sense About Science report on the BCA climbdown. It is well worth reading.
I raise my cup of Darjeeling to Simon for having the massive determination to fight his corner and be the catalyst for change in the UK libel laws.
Simon, you rock!
News comes this morning of Simon Singh winning his appeal as part of his defence against a libel claim by the British Chiropractic Association.
Stephen Curry has written a fine piece about the delivery of the judgment and highlighting some parts of it.
The Guardian reports on Simon’s victory here (and continues with points about why libel reform is needed).
Download the judgment for yourself and read the thoughts of the three most senior judges in the UK. Seems Mr Justice Eady was a bit off the mark in his initial judgment. But Mr Justice Eady was the judge responsible for the Nightjack judgment.
Paragraph 34 in particular is something that deserves quoting.
As is the final paragraph, which states simply “This appeal must be allowed.”
As Index On Censorship reminds us
The judgment criticised the BCA, saying its action had created an “unhappy impression” that the case was “an endeavour by the BCA to silence one of its critics”.
This case has cost Simon 2 years of his life and around £200,000.
Sense About Science comments on the judgment here.
James O’Malley has interviews with Simon Singh and his lawyer, Robert Dougan.
Now why are our MPs blocking libel reform?