Here’s me, Simon Singh, Phil Campbell from Nature, and Fiona Godlee from the BMJ giving evidence on libel reform in parliament yesterday. It’s all interesting, if you like that kind of thing, our session starts at 17:30 and I do a bit more shouting in the second half of it. Read the rest of this entry »
Ben Goldacre, The Guardian, Saturday 11 December 2010
You will hopefully remember – from the era before Wikileaks – that US medical device company NMT are suing NHS cardiologist Peter Wilmshurst over his comments about the conduct and results of the MIST trial, which sadly for NMT found no evidence that their device prevents migraine. The MIST trial was funded by NMT, and Wilmshurst was lead investigator until problems arose.
Wilmshurst has already paid £100,000 of his own money to defend himself, risking his house, and spent every weekend and all his annual leave, unpaid, dealing with this, at great cost to his family. So what kind of a company is NMT Medical, that the British libel courts have allowed to hound one man for almost two years? And how trustworthy are their utterances?
Ben Goldacre, The Guardian, Saturday 13 November 2010
If science has any credibility, it derives from transparency: when you make a claim about how something works, you provide references to experiments, which describe openly and in full what was done, in enough detail for the experiment to be replicated, detailing what was measured, and how. Then people discuss what they think this all means in the real world.
Maria Hatzistefanis is a star of lifestyle pages and the owner of Rodial, the cosmetics company who sell a product called “Boob Job” which they claim will give you a “fuller bust” “increase the bust size” and “plump up the décolleté area” with “an instant lifting and firming effect”, and an increase of half a cup size in 56 days. Or rather an increase of “8.4%”. It’s all very precise. Read the rest of this entry »
Ben Goldacre, The Guardian, Saturday 14 August 2010
This week the drug company AstraZeneca paid out £125m to settle a class action. Over 17,500 patients claim the company withheld information showing that schizophrenia drug quetiapine (tradename Seroquel) might cause diabetes. Why do companies pay out money before cases get to court?
Ben Goldacre, The Guardian, Monday 19 July 2010
What do you do, as a campaigner for libel reform, when a litigious millionaire calls you a liar? This ethical quandary was presented to me last week when twitter account of Gillian McKeith – or to give her full medical title, “Gillian McKeith” – called my book “lies”. Read the rest of this entry »
After 2 years of pursuing one man through the courts, at a cost to him of £200,000 and 2 years work, the British Chiropractic Association yesterday dropped their libel case against science writer Simon Singh. The case was over a piece he wrote on this very page, criticising the BCA for claiming that its members could treat children for colic, ear infections, asthma, prolonged crying, and sleeping and feeding conditions by manipulating their spines. Read the rest of this entry »
British Chiropractic Association drops shameful libel case against science writer who criticised them
The BCA have dropped their case. It has not been good for them. It will now get worse. Singh has made it clear that he will pursue them for his costs: this will cost the BCA dearly, and it is money they can ill afford. I’m off to write about it for the Guardian but I thought you’d like to know, BBC and Times pieces below. People who sue people over criticisms of science are fools. The BCA statement, meanwhile, is typically vile. Especially the bit where they talk about being vindicated. Oh, and amusingly this is Chiropractic Awareness Week. Yes. Yes it is.
This is your last chance to convince your MP that libel reform is a good idea before parliament dissolves. Politicians can feel like a dispiritingly disengaged shower of till-dippers, but here is one issue that you can care about, and it’s worth one final stab at making them see sense. Our libel laws stifle critical discussion of ideas and practices in science and medicine, and when you see cases like Matthias Rath, Simon Singh, and in particular Dr Peter Wilmshurst, a cardiologist, sued for raising concerns about a trial of a surgical device in which he was the primary investigator, it seems to me that these laws present a significant risk to public health, by restricting the public’s access to information. Please come if you can, details below. Read the rest of this entry »
Yesterday morning I helped to launch the libel reform campaign in parliament with Index on Censorship, English PEN and Sense About Science. To be fair, the best line came the day before at the celeb launch from Alexei Sayle, who explained that he was once sued for libel by someone, and it cost over £100,000 to defend: “it would have been cheaper”, he explained, “if I’d just stabbed the f*cker.”