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Permission Granted

Posted in Jack of Kent by Skepdude on October 14, 2009


Simon Singh was today granted permission to appeal the High Court ruling on meaning, a meaning which I described in May as astonishingly illiberal.

The meaning is that of the following passage in the original Guardian article:

“The British Chiropractic Association claims that their members can help treat children with colic, sleeping and feeding problems, frequent ear infections, asthma and prolonged crying, even though there is not a jot of evidence. This organization is the respectable face of the chiropractic profession and yet it happily promotes bogus treatments.”

Simon applied for this permission so he can appeal the adverse ruling, which had held that in that passage:

– he had made factual statements rather than mere comment (and this is legally important as factual statements need to be justified, and this is difficult, whilst comment only needs to be shown to be fair); and

– the factual statements meant that the BCA were knowingly dishonest (and this would be, in my view, impossible to prove and was not Simon’s intention nor, again in my view, what he actually said).

But to even make this appeal Simon required permission. This was essential, for such an appeal is not an automatic entitlement and so one has to apply for it.

The test for permission to appeal here was whether Simon has an arguable case to appeal the adverse ruling.

Simon had lost his two previous two applications for permission to appeal – the first at the initial High Court hearing and the second in July “on the papers” by another Lord Justice of Appeal.

Both refusals were to the effect that Simon did not have an arguable case.

After two such refusals the main options for Simon were to either proceed to trial (or settle) on the basis of the adverse ruling on meaning, or to make his third and final application by way of an oral hearing before the Court of Appeal.

He chose to go for the third, oral application.



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