Simon Singh named health campaigner of the year

Journalist and writer Simon Singh has been named health campaigner of the year at the annual awards of the Medical Journalists’ Association.

The award reflected a year of public outcry over the effect libel laws have on scientific debate as pressure group Sense About Science was also recognised and presented with the health charity of the year prize.

Sense About Science and Singh have both campaigned for reform of England’s libel laws to protect medical and scientific discussions since Singh was sued by the British Chiropractic Association over criticisms made in an article for The Guardian about claims that chiropractic medicine was effective against childhood ailments like asthma and ear infections.

The BCA withdrew the suit after a two year legal wrangle and the coalition Government has signalled its intention to publish proposed reforms so that the libel laws offer scientific debate greater protections.

“Medical and science reporters must be free to ask awkward questions without ending up in court,” Tracey Brown of Sense About Science said as she collected her prize.

“That is why we welcome the libel reform bill soon to go before Parliament and will continue campaigning to make sure it offers real change in English libel law.”

The awards were presented at a ceremony held at the Royal Society of Medicine, in London, where Dr Ann McPherson, author of the popular novel, Diary of a Teenage Health Freak, collected the lifetime achievement award.

Other awards were presented to:

  • Sam Lister: The Times: Health Journalist of the Year
  • Adam Brimelow: BBC News: Broadcast Journalist of the Year
  • Zosia Kmietovicz: BMJ, Medical Journalist of the Year
  • Susan Mayor: Freelance Journalist of the Year
  • Fiona Godlee: BMJ: Health Editor of the Year
  • Sarah Brealey: Eastern Daily Press: Regional Print Journalist of the Year
  • Eleanor Bradford: BBC Scotland, Regional Broadcast Journalist of the Year
  • Pulse: Health Publication of the Year
  • Health Service Journal – www.hsj.co.uk: Health Website of the Year (a new award this year).

Individual winners received £500, while the winners of the Medical Publication, Medical Charity, Health Champion and Website Awards received trophies.

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