|EADY ON THE BACK FOOT? (from Private Eye)|
The case has helped to inspire a fightback against the English law’s attacks on freedom of expression from writers, publishers, scientists, comedians, human rights groups, MPs and the United Nations. For as the Eye has reported, Eady placed the most extreme reading possible on Singh’s allegation in the Guardian that chiropractors were “knowingly promoting bogus” therapies when they claimed they could treat asthma, ear infections, and many other childhood illnesses.
Instead of saying that Singh merely had to prove that there was no evidence the treatments worked – which he was happy to do – Eady insisted that Singh must prove that chiropractors knew they were useless but dishonestly peddled them anyway – an impossible task, because it would mean getting into the mysterious minds of alternative therapists.
Singh won the right to contest Eady’s ruling in the appeal court. In ordinary circumstances, an argument about the disputed facts of a libel action would be beneath the dignity of senior judges more used to discussing the great issues of the human rights act and common law. But the master of the rolls, Lord Neuberger, insisted that he wanted to hear the case, and then the lord chief justice, Lord Judge, said he wouldn’t mind joining his learned colleague on the bench too.
As the Lord Chief Justice recently said he was unhappy that London had become the libel capital of the world and wanted parliament to change the law, and as an investigation ordered by Neuberger’s predecessor into the extortionate cost of libel is due out next month, lawyers now await Singh’s appeal in February with rapt attention.