Nature Publishing Group wins libel trial
16:23 06 July 2012 by Jacob Aron
The journal Nature has won a libel case brought against it by Mohamed El Naschie, a theoretical physicist.
In 2008, Nature published an article by journalist Quirin Schiermeier questioning the lack of peer review at the journal Chaos, Solitons and Fractals, which at the time was edited by El Naschie and published many of his own papers. El Naschie sued Schiermeier and Nature Publishing Group for damaging his reputation, representing himself in court.
Today in Bristol, UK, Judge Victoria Sharp dismissed the claim, calling Schiermeier's article "the product of responsible journalism" and "a public interest story, par excellence" in her judgment on the case. She agreed that although El Naschie's papers had been informally discussed with his colleagues before their publication, they were not subject to "any proper peer review at all" and "would not have been published by any reputable peer reviewed journal".
Sharp also found "reasonable and serious grounds" for suspecting that El Naschie used a range of false names to defend his editorial practice in communications with Nature, calling this the most "curious" and "bizarre" aspect of the case. "It is apparent that [El Naschie] had little if any interest in the norms of scientific publishing or the ethical considerations which underpinned them," she said.