Abbasi K. Keep libel laws out of science. J Roy Soc Med 2010;103:39. http://jrsm.rsmjournals.com/cgi/content/full/103/2/39
A good editor will publish articles that will upset some readers or institutions. But if the level of upset prompts legal action, the journal is exposed to a substantial financial risk. This knowledge inevitably complicates editorial decisions. The only way a journal can fight legal action is by relying on its insurance policy, but insurers require that potential risk identified by the libel lawyers is eliminated. In the UK, it is easy to launch a libel action; the burden of proof is on the defendant. The resulting fear of libel is killing scientific debate in medical journals.