Today I heard an interesting talk from Dr Peter Wilmshurst about his current libel case in which he is the defendent, libel law and fraud in the research community in general and some specific examples he has reported. The guy was a fascinating speaker and really drove home the institutionalised problems the research community has in some areas. In fact, it was a little too relentless at times – I left feeling a little down beat about honesty in research.
Obviously this is a post which is about libel so I need to be very careful about what I write! As is frequently reported in Private Eye and observable to anyone who followed the Simon Singh case, our country needs some dramatic changes to libel law. Currently everything is stacked against the defendent since you need to prove you didn’t say something. Which is pretty hard doing. The good news is some progress is being made and hopefully we should get a libel law which doesn’t result in libel tourism, the practice where someone uses UK libel laws for a publication which wasn’t even made in the UK.
For anyone interested you can support him by sending a cheque to health watch, which is a registered charity or also libel reform. The latter will be where my charitable dontation is going this week, sorry sad looking Euston Big Issue seller :(.
Whilst now with a no-win no-fee lawyer he had £100,000 of personal costs to cover before that. If you read about the case I’m sure you’ll agree, this is excessive given his alleged offence! I shall be following the case and wish Peter the best. I wish Britain actually defended freedom of speech rather than just talking about it yet acting completely contradictory.