British Chiropractic Association

18/7/19

The BCA is an association of around 50% of practicing chiropractors in the UK. It was founded in 1925 and it only admits members who are graduates of a chiropractic degree course validated by a member of the Council of Chiropractic Education International. The society is a member support organisation there to look after its members rather than regulate chiropractors, though individual applicants must also ensure their qualification meets the requirements of the UK regulator, the General Chiropractic Council.

In 2007 the BCA made various claims about ailments that can be treated by its members. Author and skeptic Simon Singh wrote an article in the guardian which stated: “The British Chiropractic Association claims that their members can help treat children with colic, sleeping and feeding problems, frequent ear infections, asthma and prolonged crying, even though there is not a jot of evidence. This organisation is the respectable face of the chiropractic profession and yet it happily promotes bogus treatments”. The BCA then sued Simon for libel claiming his comments were "factually wrong, defamatory and damaging to the BCA’s reputation". The BCA won the first hearing but after an appeal, heard in April 2010, Singh won his court appeal for the right to rely on the defence of fair comment and the BCA withdrew their libel claim.

The case was instrumental in the call to reform England’s libel laws and to remove scientific criticism from such claims. It also created a “Streisand effect” where the publicity of the case led to complaints against almost 25% of UK Chiropractors, and various chiro bodies recommended their members remove from circulation any advertising material that alluded to treating colic, whiplash and other ailments mentioned in the case. Partially because of the case and the actions by the charity Sense About Science and other pressure groups, the Defamation Act of 2013 became law. Under the new law, plaintiffs must now show that they suffer serious harm before the court will accept a libel case.

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