I was very excited last Friday that I got the chance to listen to and meet Simon Singh at the Aberdeen Word Festival. If you don't know who he is - he's a physicist and writes a column for the Guardian. He has a bizarre haircut. He is an advocate of evidence based medicine and wrote the book, 'Trick or Treatment' (looking at the evidence for and against alternative medicine). He was sued for libel in 2008 by the British Chiropractic Association, you can read all about it on his wikipedia page and all over the Internet -http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Simon_Singh and if you haven't heard about it then you probably haven't seen any news from the UK regularly for the past 2 years.
Anyway, it was a good discussion which focused on the libel case.After the talk, my boyfriend asked Simon Singh, if you make it easier and less costly to sue someone for libel, then surely then people will be suing each other more? But he made the clever point that other countries seem to survive quite well without incredibly stupid libel cases carrying on every second - plus everyone should have the right to sue for libel. One thing I didn't realise before the talk was the incredible cost of a libel case (running into millions) and even if you win your case you will not receive all your money back - which is a ridiculous situation. Making libel cases less costly, quicker and easier should help the situation an awful lot.
Even better news came this week that Lord Lester QC has filed a bill in Parliament to reform the libel laws. So that's something to look forward to and hopefully things are on there way to being sorted out. If you haven't signed the petition yet and this is the first you have heard of it - go and do it now http://www.libelreform.org/sign !
I really like Simon Singh - he was brave to stand up for something he believed in (on his own, without the support of The Guardian), if you ever get the chance to meet him/see him talk I would recommend it. I haven't read all of 'Trick or Treatment' yet so I will reserve judgement there! I don't mean to be nasty about the hair... but it really is quite bizarre!