Guardian argues fair comment in Africa Aids treatment

A judge has rejected an attempt by a multimillionaire to strike out parts of The Guardian’s defences of justification and fair comment in a libel case over articles about Aids and medical treatment in South Africa.

Matthias Rath, who advocates the use of vitamins in the treatment of HIV and Aids, is suing The Guardian and its columnist Ben Goldacre over three articles which appeared in the newspaper’s Bad Science column in January and February last year.

Rath claims the articles suggest that he is a ‘vitamin-peddling Aids denialist who falsely claimed that his vitamin pills are a more effective treatment for Aids than anti-retroviral drugs”, that he was ‘selling ridiculous vitamin pills on the back of his false claim that they were better than anti-retroviral drugs in treating HIV and Aids”, and that he was ‘guilty of exploiting vulnerable Aids victims in South Africa’and was ‘substantially responsible for the needless deaths of hundreds of thousands of people”.

Rath applied to strike out parts of the defence and for summary judgment in respect of the defence of fair comment.

The Guardian and Goldacre are seeking to justify all three articles. They also claim fair comment.

n The Guardian, meanwhile, has apologised and paid damages to a Moscow-based academic after publishing defamatory allegations that her review of a book was motivated by a grudge or professional envy.

Dr Rachel Polonsky, an independent writer and scholar, sued over an article which appeared in The Guardian on 22 October last year.

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