Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Libel and Mathematics
John Allen Paulos’s book “once upon a number” discusses the probability that OJ Simpson murdered his ex wife. Two pieces of statistics are raised that relate to the Ian Bailey Libel trial

1.“ But we know that Nicole Simpson is dead, and the more relevant fact is that 80 per cent of women in abusive relationships who are murderered, are killed by their partners.”
Evidence has been presented that Ian Bailey has been abusive to his partner.
2. OJ Simpson had a cut on his hand which Paulos suggested had a probability of 1 in 200 of occurring on any night where he was not engaged in violence. Ian Bailey has similar but more extensive cuts on his hands and head.

As a civil case libel is based not on reasonable doubt but on the less weighty measure of balance of probability. As such these statistics are important. If it was so unlikely that Ian Bailey would get such an injury on the day in question surely this is important to any newspapers case that he was a reasonable suspect in the case?

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