Sunday, February 14, 2010

Your help is needed to sign the libel reform petition

You may have noticed a link under 'Campaigns I Support' with a label regarding a libel reform (libel means 'injurier' in Danish). This is a very important campaign with the goal of reforming the British libel laws and I urge you to go sign the petition immediately.

Libel laws
If libel laws aren't implemented properly, it becomes possible to block the free flow of information and exchange of ideas that form the basis of science in our society. Corporations can force scientists to stop publishing test results that shows a health issue with a product, regardless of whether the claim is true or not.
Proper libel laws should only block unsubstantiated and groundless defamations and not true researched and peer-reviewed scientific findings.

But currently that is possible in Britain, with world wide implications (Simon Singh is being sued for libel by the British Chiropractic Association, because he called them on their lack of evidence for their claims [the chiropractors chose to target another sentence in his article]).

Those kinds of laws stifle free speech and makes it impossible to be skeptic of the claims made by health "professionals" and corporations.

Please help by signing the petition.

Simon Singh's idea
In case you are wondering why you should support a petition against the current libel laws in Britain, Simon Singh explains it in his emailed idea:

(a) English libel laws have been condemned by the UN Human Rights Committee.

b) These laws gag scientists, bloggers and journalists who want to discuss matters of genuine public interest (and public health!).

c) Our laws give rise to libel tourism, whereby the rich and the powerful (Saudi billionaires, Russian oligarchs and overseas corporations) come to London to sue writers because English libel laws are so hostile to responsible journalism. (In fact, it is exactly because English libel laws have this global impact that we welcome signatories to the petition from around the world.)

d) Vested interests can use their resources to bully and intimidate those who seek to question them. The cost of a libel trial in England is 100 times more expensive than the European average and typically runs to over £1 million.

(e) Three separate ongoing libel cases involve myself and two medical researchers raising concerns about three medical treatments. We face losing £1 million each. In future, why would anyone else raise similar concerns? If these health matters are not reported, then the public is put at risk.