Thursday 21 April 2011

Doctor's libel nightmare ends as company closes

Index on Censorship reports that NMT Medical, the US company which pursued cardiologist Peter Wilmshurst in the London libel courts for almost four years, has announced that it is ceasing operations and selling off its assets.

Dr Wilmshurst has been fighting since 2007 to defend his comments about a clinical trial of a heart device manufactured by NMT Medical. Losing the case could have meant he lost his house.

It is one of the cases that has been used to highlight the need for the libel laws in the UK to be reformed.

Index says: "This news of NMT’s closure comes just weeks after Wilmshurst discovered he was facing a fourth libel suit over an interview he gave to BBC Radio 4 Today Programme piece on the chilling effects of England’s libel laws on medical science."

Wilmshurt told Index on Censorship: “It is good news that it seems that my libel case may now be over. However it has cost me all my free time for the last three and a half years. It has also cost hundreds of thousands of my own money and about £200,000 on the conditional fee agreement with my lawyers, Mark Lewis and Alastair Wilson QC. Now that NMT have gone into liquidation, we are uncertain how much of the money we will get back. There will be no compensation for the enormous amount of time my family and I have wasted in fighting the case.”

Solicitor Mark Lewis commented: “It looks like the nightmare is nearly over. After 4 years NMT looks to have gone out of business. Poor Dr Wilmshurst. The continual deployment of the libel laws to stop scientific discussion seems to be over. Peter Wilmshurst and his family enter the normal world blinking from the bright light of a case that is over.”

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