Simon Singh’s side of the British Chiropractic Associations version

May 20, 2010


I like to hear both sides of a story and I never prejudge people. Obviously as a practising Irish chiropractor I disagreed with most of what was in Simon Singhs article in the Guardian and commented in my blog on the article. I also brought the book Trick or Treatment and thought the chapter on chiropractic presented a very narrow view of chiropractic. However it never crossed my mind that Simon Singh should have been prevented from expressing his views.

It is only in totalitarian states where they dont allow people to express their views. Imagine what it was like for Gorden Brown when a predominantly Tory press vilified him, for the last 6 months. Then imagine what it would be like living somewhere you could not criticise your leaders.

Thats how the BCA have always operated, an old boys club surrounding themselves with sycophants jobs worth’s who like to feel important. Not satisfied with the GCCs disciplinary process the BCA have their own, which keeps dissidents quiet. The BCA disciplinary process is not in public and does not abide by the human rights act. It was senior BCA people who set up the GCC and have used it to promote personal agendas and they put GCC Chief Executive Margaret Coats and her disgraced deputy Gregory Price in place to do their bidding, only realising after it was too late Margaret Coats does her own bidding. Nevertheless they still bend over backwards for the crumbs she throws the BCAs way. Apathy is the BCAs best friend, probably why  the GCC have instructed solicitors to take action against me twice and the BCA have threatened to once, These were some of the factors which led me to seek out Simon Sing and get his version of events and satisfy my curiosity. We met a few times and he has visited my practice.

simon singhAs people we are very probably very different however I found him to be  pleasant and was happy to fill him in on the way the BCA do business. While I could understand his view of homeopathy, our views on chiropractic were very different and we agreed to disagree. Simon did not start frothing at the mouth when I suggested he should consider chiropractic if his new born son developed colic, he declined the offer politely.

His version of the issues between himself and the BCA were different from what the BCA has been telling the profession and I am delighted Simon has decided to speak publicly about the the aftermath of this case and hopefully chiropractors who have criticised me for supporting Simons right to his opinion will understand the broader issues that were at stake. If this case finally exposes the duplicitous way the BCA operate to its members it will have been worth it and hopefully the phoenix can rise from the ashes of the GCC scorched earth policy.  Simon Published the article (part below) on the Jack of Kent’s blog yesterday 

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Guest Post: Simon Singh on the BCA and Dishonesty

I am delighted to publish a guest blogpost by Simon Singh.
Last week the British Chiropractic Association (BCA) hosted one of the world’s biggest gatherings of spinal manipulators, namely the European Chiropractors’ Union Convention in London.
During the coffee breaks, there was probably lots of discussion about the BCA’s decision to sue me for libel over an article I published in the Guardian back in April 2008.
The contentious part of the article questioned whether chiropractors should be treating childhood conditions such as ear infections, asthma and colic.
Last month, after two years of legal wrangling, the BCA backed down and withdrew its libel action. It now has to foot its own legal bill and my legal costs, which I estimate will come to £300,000 in total.
I am sure that the members of the BCA are annoyed that their subscriptions have been wasted on a horrendously expensive libel suit, but at least they can be reassured by some of the comments made in a press statement issued by the BCA last month.
The BCA pointed out that the motivation for its legal action was that it believed that my article alleged that the BCA was a dishonest organisation.
Hence, the BCA attempted to justify its decision to sue me by stating:
“Simon Singh has said publicly that he had never intended to suggest that the BCA had been dishonest. The BCA accepts this statement, which goes some way to vindicating its position”.
This baffles me.
Of course, I publicly stated that I never intended to call the BCA dishonest, because it is completely obvious that the article makes no such allegation. Moreover, and this is the really crucial point, it appears to me that the BCA failed to see any accusation of dishonesty in my article, or at least its solicitor failed to raise the issue when we first exchanged letters.
I must stress at this point that I am not saying that the BCA fabricated the dishonesty allegation at a later stage, but I am saying that the BCA have a very unclear way of communicating their concerns.
This began with its very first letter to me, which was sent on 28 May, 2008 via its solicitor.
The letter does not mention the word “dishonesty” or raise concerns over an allegation of dishonesty, but instead the letter states:
“It is untrue and grossly libellous for you to allege that the claims made by our client happily promotes bogus treatments for which there is not a jot of evidence. There is, as you are or should be well aware, a substantial body of evidence to support these claims”.
In my opinion, the initial letter threatening legal action raises concerns over allegations of a lack of evidence, not dishonesty.
Essentially, the dispute seems to be that the BCA says there is “a substantial body of evidence”, while I maintain that “there is not a jot of evidence”.
This is itself a defamatory interpretation, but one that I would have been delighted to defend at trial; I have examined the evidence and there is indeed “not a jot of evidence”.
By the way, when I use the word “evidence”, I mean reliable/worthwhile/reasonable/good evidence, as opposed to unreliable, unworthy, unreasonable/bad evidence.

Read the rest of the article at Jack of Kent’s blog

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15 Responses to Simon Singh’s side of the British Chiropractic Associations version

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  12. Resty Cooper on April 17, 2012 at 07:46

    I never thought that at the very inside of this industry, there’s an issue like this. Resty, my Chiropractor in Garland TX didn’t even told me about certain thing like this before or even after treatments. Well, as for me, I just wish that these be resolved and results would favor both sides and also, I’m OK as long as there’s a chiropractor to run to when i feel pain in my back. Just wish things be resolved very soon.

  13. Guthrie Steer on May 21, 2010 at 10:20

    Hi John

    The last bit of text shown above is not the sign off – there’s a link to the rest off the article just below it. It may not change your opinion on it at all but at least it would be the full picture.

    I can’t help thinking that ‘arrogant pricks’ is exactly how the skeptiks will have characterised Chiropractors & it’s that type of polarised rage that has resulted in mass complaints etc. All of which strikes me as being unlikely to form the basis for any meaningful discourse & is damaging to the integrity of both sides of this argument.

  14. Richard Lanigan on May 20, 2010 at 10:45

    We live in a world where all sorts of information is flying around and as the chiropractic profession grows, it invites criticism. Skeptics are not talking about having crystals under the bed its our profession and chiropractic is in the eye of another storm and the profession has not been able to deal with it, the way Chester Wilk did.

    Far from “pulling him up” for his critic the BCA tried to move the goalposts to one about their honesty and anyone who has dealings with the BCA was cringing.

    Gone are the days when Sir Humphrey could control the flow of information on a need to know basis. Professions like ours have to deal with criticism and make better arguments and you need a very different breed of spokesman.They should have argued their case in the Guardian as offered but the BCA could not or would not defend the type of practise Simon was criticising.

    They have someone like Martin Young (editor of Clinical Chiropractic) available and they send out people like Alan Breene, Tony Metcalf, Richard Brown et all to defend the profession. They make Gordon Brown sound like Barak Obama ,no wonder they needed lawyers.

    This is not a difficult argument to win, what makes it difficult is gathering the wagons in a circle for protection and then to start shooting inward. The chiropractic profession has a history of this and its time the leaders learned they will have to work with people they dont necessarily agree with and show them respect. Simon Singh has a PhD in particle physics he is not an idiot, however he like my partner who has a PhD in chemistry know fuck all about chiropractic and base scientific enquiry on applying certain rules which apply when the intervention is a standardised pill, the variables can be controled and be measured quantatively.

    When the intervention can not be standardised in this manner, relying more on experience and empirical evidence to make clinical decisions, qualitative investigation is more appropriate for “evidenced base practice”.

    I have told Simon many times that he is wrong to assume that because chiropractic does not have a strong “evidence” base, it does not follow, that the theory supporting its use is “biologically implausible”. However Simon Singh or anybody else are unlikely to want to discuss it with people who refer to them as “arrogant pricks”. Personally I dont believe he is and even if it were true, it is irrelevant to the points the profession needs to make in its defense.

    The fact is the medipractors have placed far to much emphasis on the importance of quantitive studies since Meade in 1990 they saw it as some kind of truth, its not and they are paying the price with the credibility of the profession in the UK.

    Unable to see this error they have decided the way forward is to throw the baby out with the bath water and focus on the “good science” the musculoskeletal stuff as if that will make a difference, forgetting the limitation of applying this approach to health care. The fight within the profession will go on until the regulator will tell UK chiropractors what they can and cant do and what form their education will take as happened to Osteopaths in the US.

    If only on the basis of the anatomy and physiology of the spine I am happy to go anywhere and have the skeptics bring there best medical experts and have them tell me there is no relationship between a spinal joint and the Central Nervous System and wellbeing.

    Keep it Simple Stupid! Do it with a kindness and humility, most importantly be able to laugh at yourself and I guarenteed you a happy life.

  15. John on May 20, 2010 at 08:53

    Sorry Richard, although I would agree he is entitled to his opinion (informed or not), with his sign off basically slagging off chiropractic evidence, it clearly illustrates he is a prick, an arrogant prick who thinks he is judge and jury until someone pulls him and then he hides behind the fair comment defence.

    I see Ernst hasn’t replied to your pulse debate either Richard since admitting his ‘juniors’ are not up to the job and inflicting serious adverse events at a rate unheard of, and being described as chiropractic.


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