It's worth reading. Go on. Then come back.
The bit I find most interesting is this:
We considered that, whilst some of the studies indicated that further research was worth pursuing, in particular in relation to the chiropractic relief of colic, we had not seen robust clinical evidence to support the claim that chiropractic could treat IBS, colic and learning difficulties.Now, I'm not a lawyer but surely this casts a really interesting light on the case currently being brought by the Britsh Chiropractic Association against Simon Singh.
On these points the ad breached CAP Code clauses 3.1 (Substantiation), 7.1 (Truthfulness) and 50.1 (Health and Beauty Products and Therapies).
I'm trying to keep my thoughts in order here... so I'm going to walk myself through this in baby steps... apologies if you're already familiar with the case and feel I'm just retreading old ground.
I'll start with a rough timeline of events...
1: The British Chiropractic Association produced a leaflet, Happy Families, in which it claimed chiropractic was an appropriate treatment for colic.
2: Simon Singh wrote about this and described the claim (alongside some others) as bogus. (A term he went on to define in the next paragraph.)
3: The BCA sued Simon Singh for libel contending, it seems, that the phrase "happily promoting bogus treatments" meant "knowingly promoting treatments they knew to be bogus". (I don't think that was SS's meaning at all... something I thought was clear from the way in which he defined his terms within the article.)
4: Justice Eady's ruling at the preliminary hearing means that the focus of the case is not whether or not the claims are true, but whether or not they were dishonestly made. (Oh dear.)
5: In the meantime - I'm not sure when - Carl Irwin & Associates (a chiropractic practice based in Edgware) have placed their advert in a magazine mentioning, amongst other things, colic.
6: Someone has complained about the advert and the ASA have upheld the complaint. Carl Irwin & Associates are not allowed to run the ad as it stands again and have been told (amongst other things) not to mention the treatment of colic in future ads.
This much, I believe we know. But I'll continue by offering a few of my thoughts about how this could affect things...
7: Having a complaint against you upheld by the ASA is not good for your business or its reputation.
8: The BCA is a professional body whose role is to look after the best interests of its members. It is not in the interests of its members to have the ASA rule against them.
9: In light of the ASA ruling, it seems to me that when the BCA produced the Happy Families leaflet they were in effect giving their members bad advice - however sincerely meant it was at the time. Surely the BCA should now make best efforts to correct it. I think the only responsible action would be to tell their members not to make such claims because they cannot be substantiated. This is the only responsible thing to do until there is new evidence that can substantiate such claims. To not do so would be to fail to act in the best interests of their members.
10: Which surely means that, even if they believed the claims made in the leaflet at the time, don't they now have to concede that the information was, dare I say it, bogus?
11: Which in turn makes their lawsuit against Simon Singh look, if nothing else, petty. Rather than suing him for - as they see it - calling them liars, they should be acknowledging that he was right - the claims are not substantiated - and offering him thanks for pointing out the falsehood of their well-intentioned but incorrect belief.
12: Had they seen Singh's point at the time, they could have corrected themselves earlier and offered better advice to their members earlier. By failing to do so and filing their libel action they were failing to act in their members' best interests. The longer their leaflet was out there promoting unsubstantiated claims - and even if the leaflet was withdrawn - the longer it remained uncorrected - the longer they were doing their members' a disservice.
I really don't see how they can fulfil their role of serving their members' best interests and not warn them against advertising their services as an appropriate treatment for colic, having previously suggested they could. To not do so would surely be to let their members - and their patients - down. How that can be squared with suing someone who simply tried to point out the fallacy of the claim is beyond me.