The Chiropractic is generally Woo. There is some evidence that it helps with back pain, but its wider claims are (in my view) without serious foundation.
The extent of the efficacy of Chiropractic is an important area for a public debate about public health. And such a debate should not be subject to the veto of vested commercial interests.
However, the British Chiropractic Association have issued a writ against the leading science writer Simon Singh. The newspaper report for this development is here.
This claim is brought in respect of a (now removed) comment piece in The Guardian, printed in full here and (with notes) here. (A tip of Jack's Hat to Svetlana Pertsovich, Gimpy and Blue Wode for these links.)
In simple terms, the BCA wants the High Court to ban Simon Singh from saying something about them.
I will be watching this case keenly. The exact details of the claim and of the defence have not been published. But going just on what has been reported, I have three very general thoughts.
First, the BCA is able to sue because it is a "legal person", that is a company. If it were a public authority, like the statutory General Chiropractic Council, it would not be able to sue under the "Derbyshire Rule" preventing such bodies from suing for defamation. It would be good if the High Court used this case to extend the Derbyshire Rule to such representative bodies: a nice gunshot wound to the BCA's own foot.
Second, even if the Derbyshire Rule is not extended, the article was by Britain's leading science writer in the comment section of a quality newspaper discussing concerns about an important aspect of public health, that is the treatment of sick children. If Article 10 of the ECHR, which protects freedom of expression, does not apply here, then we may as well not have a Human Rights Act. Singh's article is exactly the sort of contribution to public debate which should have legal protection from the intervention from commercial interests.
Third, as my friend Mojo says on another forum, there is simple advice to anyone bringing a libel case. Don't. Just don't. Even if my two concerns above did not apply, such cases are invariably counterproductive. Even now the BCA are being roundly criticised in the blogosphere and the alleged libel repeated and repeated.
This is simply not a matter for the Court room. The fact that Woos use legal muscle is both depressing and suggestive. But it doesn't necessarily mean they will prevail.
The Devil may well have the best tunes, but not always the best lawyers.