Even if Simon Singh proceeds to an oral hearing for permission to appeal (PTA), he is unlikely to succeed. PTA has already been turned down twice, by the High Court at the preliminary hearing, and by Court of Appeal this week.
There are a variety of ways forward if he is unsuccessful in PTA but, for me, they are two broad options.
The case can continue
The case can continue in a number of fashions.
There is actually still an issue outstanding from the preliminary hearing - whether the (now discredited) British Chiropractic Association can as a corporartion sue for libel: there is actually little legal authority, if any, for a company without shareholders to sue for defamation. So there still has to be a ruling on the "corporate" issue once the current "meaning" issue is finally dealt with.
And an adverse ruling on this corporate issue can also be appealed to the Court of Appeal (subject always to PTA, but refusal of PTA can of course also be appealed).
The case can continue to full trial. Here Simon Singh's defence is in a slightly stronger position than it was before the BCA's incredible plethora gaffe - for example, the selective quotation from the Cochrane review may come back to haunt them (a very great hat tip to the Lay Scientist for that).
However, the meaning selected by the High Court will always be difficult to establish. And, as it is not the meaning which Simon Singh actually meant, such a trial will perhaps be rather artificial.
The case can also go off to the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR), and this can be either at this preliminary stage or after full trial and any appeal. This would probably be on Article 10 (free expression) grounds. The ECtHR is not a great supporter of English libel law (and was critical in the Tolstoy and McLibel cases). However, this would take years and may not ultimately succeed.
The case can come to an end
One senses the BCA no longer have much appetite for this fight. Their statement yesterday was conciliatory, in contrast
to the strident barminess of some of their other statements.
It cannot be nice for the BCA to survey the lasting and very serious damage to their profession caused by their misconceived libel action.
So it may be time for the case to settle. This may require Simon Singh to execute the "Heresiarch Manoeuvre" (named after the excellent blogger who described it) of apologising to the narrow meaning ascribed by the High Court.
One benefit of this for the skeptical movement generally would be to free the ongoing scrutiny of alternative and complementary health from being tied to the particular issue of chiropractic for various children's ailments.
(The other immense benefit will be to Simon Singh's resources; he really can only be expected to persist with his defence as long as it is reasonable to do so. His heroic status for all liberals, skeptics, and scientists is now assured.)
I know Simon Singh values the views of the skeptic and blogging community. (Indeed, this community showed their appreciation in return in that one day demolition of the plethora.)
So please do set out your thoughts below.
(And, in doing so, please do tag your comment with some name, rather than just "anonymous" - it makes it so much easier for others to respond.)
See the Open Letter to Simon Singh at the great blog of The Heresiarch - where I have also commented.