I just spent a highly informative and enjoyable evening at the Westminster Skeptics in the pub event.
Tonights event was focused on the chilling effects of the UK libel laws o freedom of speech and in particular science reporting. With the hearing tomorrow of Simon Singh‘s case tomorrow in the high court there was plenty of interest and some frankly frightening stories of the way the U.K. libel laws are being used silence critics.
No one should be happy about the case of Dr Peter Wilmshurst who is being sued for libel for questioning medical trial data. He stands to loose everything if he looses and loose lots of money if he wins. That is the way UK libel works. You loose when you win.
However the best speaker was without doubt, and it pains me to say it, a politician. Dr Evan Harris MP who was both amusing and informative. He was clearly very pleased with the outcome of the Parliamentary Sci Tech Committee on Homeopathy which concluded that the NHS should not waste money on sugar pills for which there is no evidence of efficacy.
The main thrust is that if you care about science you should sign the petition at Sense about Science to keep pressure on for Libel reform.
All in all a good meeting.