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The British Chiropractic Association was founded in 1925 and claims to represent over 50% of UK chiropractors.[1] It claims to be the largest and longest established association for chiropractors in the United Kingdom.[2] The BCA have implemented campaigns regarding supposed dangers of many modern technologies and that injuries that can result from them, such as 'Repetitive Surf Injury',[3] text messaging,[4] iPod thumb[5] and using a Wii.[6]

Libel case against Simon Singh

In July 2008, the BCA issued libel proceedings against Dr. Simon Singh, who has specialised in writing about mathematical and scientific topics, for writing in The Guardian newspaper and website that the association was promoting 'bogus treatments'.[7] The BCA asked Singh to retract his allegations because they were "factually wrong, defamatory and damaging to the BCA’s reputation".[8] After the BCA won a preliminary court ruling in May 2009, Dr Singh announced in June 2009 that he intended to appeal against the ruling,[9] and on 14 October 2009 Singh was granted leave to appeal.[10] On 29 October 2009, Times Higher Education reported that Singh had won the right to appeal against the preliminary ruling on "meaning" in the case. Singh responded to the judgement that it was the "best possible result" but warned that he would try not to get his hopes up. "We have only won leave to appeal. Now we must convince the Court of Appeal on the issue of meaning. There is a long battle ahead."[11]

An editorial in Nature commented on the case, and stated that although the BCA has said that it believes in open discussions about the evidence base for chiropractic treatments and beliefs, it instead appears to many observers that the association is trying to use libel laws to suppress debate.[12] Sense About Science has been a major supporter of Singh during this case[13] and editorials in BMJ argued that the lawsuit highlights the chilling effects of English libel law on scientific discourse and free speech.[14]

The backlash to the BCA's libel case has resulted in a lot of coverage in both skeptical and mainstream media,[15] and as such is considered by some to be an example of the Streisand Effect.[16]

The publicity produced by the BCA's libel action has led to formal complaints of false advertising being made against more than 500 individual chiropractors within one 24 hour period,[17][18] prompting the McTimoney Chiropractic Association to write to its members advising them to remove leaflets that make claims about whiplash and colic from their practice, to be wary of new patients and telephone inquiries, and telling their members: "If you have a website, take it down NOW." and "Finally, we strongly suggest you do NOT discuss this with others, especially patients[.]"[17]


  1. ^ "About Chiropractic". British Chiropractic Association. Retrieved 2009-06-04.  
  2. ^ "History of chiropractic". British Chiropractic Association. Retrieved 2009-06-04.  
  3. ^ "The latest RSI risk is revealed by Yahoo! and the British Chiropractic Association". Publicasity. Retrieved 2009-06-04.  
  4. ^ "Practice ‘safe texting’ with The British Chiropractic Association" (PDF). Britich Chiropractic Association.  
  5. ^ Victor Mihailescu (2005-11-14). "iPod Thumb, the new occupational hazard". Softpedia. Retrieved 2009-06-04.  
  6. ^ Andy Merrett (2006-12-19). "British Chiropractic Association gives advice for avoiding Wii-injuries". Tech Digest. Retrieved 2009-06-04.  }
  7. ^ Richard Eden (2008-08-16). "Doctors take Simon Singh to court". Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 2009-06-04.  
  8. ^ "UPDATE ON BCA v SIMON SINGH" (PDF). British Chiropractic Association. Retrieved 2009-06-04.  
  9. ^ Steve Connor (2009-06-04). "Silenced, the writer who dared to say chiropractice is bogus". Independent. Retrieved 2009-06-04.  
  10. ^ Cressey, Daniel (Wednesday 14 October 2009). "Simon Singh vs the British Chiropractic Association, redux". Retrieved 2009-10-14.  
  11. ^ "News in brief: Singh wins leave to appeal". Times Higher Education. 29th October 2009.  
  12. ^ "Unjust burdens of proof". Nature 459 (7248): 751. June 2009. doi:10.1038/459751a. PMID 19516290.  
  13. ^ Sense About Science: keep the libel laws out of science
  14. ^ BMJ 2009;338:b2254 doi:10.1136/bmj.b2254
    BMJ 2009;339:b4429 doi:10.1136/bmj.b4429
    BMJ 2009;339:b2783 doi:10.1136/bmj.b2783
  15. ^ Ben Goldacre (2009-07-29). "An intrepid, ragged band of bloggers". The Guardian. Retrieved 2009-10-08.  
  16. ^ "Chiropocalypse". Richard Dawkins.,3940,Chiropocalypse,Phil-Plait---BadAstronomy. Retrieved 2009-07-29.  
  17. ^ a b Lucas Laursen. "The Great Beyond: Chiropractic group advises members to 'withdraw from the battleground'". Retrieved 20 June 2009.  
  18. ^ Lucas Laursen. "The Great Beyond: Complaints converge on chiropractors". Retrieved 20 June 2009.  

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