Returning To Holford

‘It’s a wonder that you still know how to breathe.’
Bob Dylan1

It was, as I said in Part I of this essay, inevitable that Holford and
Burne would be roundly condemned by all kinds of quackbusters, following
the publication of their book Food is Better Medicine than
Drugs. It is unlikely, however, that either author understood exactly to
what lengths quackbusters would go to destroy Patrick Holford’s professional

When trying to understand the relationship between quackbusters
and nutrition, and the relationship between corporate nutrition and
independent nutritionists, it is important to grasp the fact that the
processed food industry and all its interlinked chemical interests represent
one main leg of the quackbusting triumvirate, the other two
supports being comprised of the pharmaceutical industry and professional

Quackbusters fight a continuous rearguard action, duping the public
with the message that people who believe in organic, pure food,
vitamin supplements, non-chemical and sustainable agriculture, alternative
medicine and alternative practitioners are the bad guys; the

In relation to nutrition, the battle between the pharmaceutical cartels
and raw food producers has become so bloody that, last year in
Spain, for example, large posters issued by the Department of Health
and Consumers went up all over Madrid, warning consumers not to be
conned by sellers of vegetables and fruit who might suggest that fruit
and vegetables were beneficial to their health.

The posters depicted a rather greasy-looking young greengrocer
wearing a white lab coat, with a stethoscope around his neck. He was
offering a cut melon to an unseen buyer, while obviously extolling its
virtues as a health-giving food.2

In England, in 2004, prosecutions were begun by two Trading
Standards Offices in Shropshire and Swindon, against Asda and
Tesco, two leading supermarkets. Both chains had suggested inside
their stores that regular consumption of fresh fruit and vegetables
could help to protect consumers against cancer. In so doing, they were
apparently following the cancer prevention campaign policy of the
British government.3

In North America in 2007, pharmaceutical interests and the FDA,
threatened to force cherry producers to go through the licensing
process and declare cherries a medicine if the cherry growers continued
to make public new scientific information that suggested cherries
had anti-cancer properties.

The American Council on Science and Health (ACSH) is perhaps
the major US organisation that defends the interests of the pesticide,
herbicide, farming and food chemical companies, as well as the preservative,
food additives and food colouring chemical companies. Its
massive board of advisors lists many who have vested interests in
these areas, as well as those who are established members of skeptical
and quackbusting organisations.

The Council was set up in 1978 by Professor Frederick Stare.
Stare was a doctor and the founding chairman of the Department of
Nutrition at Harvard University School of Public Health. From his
early years, Stare accepted considerable grant funding from the food
industry, and did research on its behalf. ACSH, has, since its inauguration,
supported and argued on behalf of all chemical and processed
food causes.

In Britain, things turned out differently because the most notable
British nutritionist, desperate after the Second World War to found an
independent Nutritional Institute, wanted to regulate the industry with
independent research rather than simply protect paid-for vested interests.
Hugh Macdonald Sinclair, whose major contribution to nutrition
came with work on the development of essential fatty acids, occasionally
visited Frederick Stare in North America.4

Sinclair had tried hard from the late 1930s to raise the money in
Britain to build a national nutritional institute, but had little success,
being shunted from one failing university department to another. He
was surprised on visiting Stare in 1943, to find that his research facilities
at Harvard were massively funded by the food companies.
Project budgets of over a quarter of a million dollars were not
unknown, and budgets of 100,000 dollars relatively common. Sinclair
failed to understand, that in order to obtain this funding, Stare was
endorsing and helping to produce processed foods, rather than policing
their public health consequences.

Sinclair continued trying to raise money on the assumption that
the food companies would be glad of a regulatory institute that determined
the public benefits of foodstuffs on a scientific and nutritional
basis. This, of course, was the last thing the post-war processed food
industry and its developing army of advising dieticians wanted. With
the progress of industrial and novelty food, the processed food industry
wanted more than anything to make it quicker and easier to produce
food in large quantities.

From the beginning, Stare raised funding from industry to run his
Harvard department, and when Elizabeth Whelan was given the job of
managing ACSH, she called on the resources, among others, of
Monsanto, Coca-Cola and the sugar industry.5

A good example of the denaturing of basic foodstuff by industrial
processes, is the story of white bread. In his two excellent books about
the chemical pollution of everyday food, the far-sighted Dr Franklin
Bicknell, who was both a doctor and a member of the Royal College
of Physicians, describes what happened to bread in the post-war years.

It is worth looking at his account, in two books, Chemicals in your
Food, first published in 1961, and The English Complaint, first published
in 1952.6 What happened to bread is an excellent example of
how technology and company profits slashed the nutritional value of
a previously nutritious foodstuff. In Chemicals in your Food, Bicknell
includes a chapter entitled ‘Perverted foods; Bread; Margarine;
Cooking Fats’.

Following the Second World War, the millers and bakers, determined
to introduce speedy, cost-cutting processes to industrial breadmaking,
claimed that consumers were unhappy with the dark bread
produced before and during the war, and wanted something that was
lighter and whiter. It was so well understood that bread was a nutritious
and wholesome food (called, colloquially, ‘the staff of life’), that
Parliament had to vote the right to millers to strip it of its health-giving

With the introduction of the ‘Chorley Wood’ manufacturing
process in the early 1960s, low-protein wheats were used with chemical
‘improvers’. The intense mechanical working of the dough by
high-speed mixers meant that the fermentation period was substantially
reduced, which increases the production speed of each loaf.

A number of chemical ‘improvers’ and bleaches were added to
bread in the 1950s and 1960s, not just chlorine dioxide, but nitrosyl
chloride, nitrogen peroxide, chlorine, potassium persilphate, ammonium
persulphate, potassium bromate, benzoyl peroxide, calcium acid
phosphate, calcium sulphate, ascorbic acid, succinic acid and chalk.
These chemicals, emulsifiers, which were known to be a danger to the
digestive system and the liver, and which were banned in the US, were
introduced to British bread.


The war between the processed food industry and independent nutritionists
began soon after the Second World War ended. Between the
end of war and the late Seventies, the idea of nutritious food had
become an anathema to the British public and all those agencies from
which they sought nutritional advice. The processed food industry
spawned an army of dieticians who blatantly sang the praises of sugar,
chemical pesticides and fertilisers, advocated formula milk for babies
and pushed everything refined, apparently luxurious, soft, pastelcoloured
and without nutritional value.

Coming to market along with these denatured foods, were warehouses
full of non-foods, novel foods and what might be called recreational
substances. The new confectionary industry swept everything
before it, and many children of the urban poor, grew up in a post
1950s environment at the top of a slippery slope that was to take them,
as they grew up, further and further away from real food.

The development of industrial food following the second world
war, was overseen and encouraged by what we now consider the old
school nutritionists and dieticians. Although in the 1970s and 1980s
there was already a gathering movement against the excessive use of
sugar, refined carbohydrates, additives, white bread, bad oils and various
models of food processing, old school nutritionists were usually
on the side of industry when these conflicts arose and it wasn’t until
the 1990s that coalescing movements in favour of nutrition separate
from industry began to have more authority.

Although what is left of the old school, claim still to be guided by
science, their theoretical position usually consists of highly generalised
assumptions. Because industrial production is production for
the masses, the nutritional arguments of the old school are not individual-
specific. At the heart of old school nutrition is the argument
that we are basically all the same, regardless of environment, health at
birth, occupation, or early experience of illness. The old school of
nutrition assumes that we all need roughly the same amount of nutrients
daily for our bodies to function with the same efficiency. At the
centre of these assumptions is that of the ‘balanced diet’.

The old school looks at nutritional elements in isolation, generally
unconcerned with the biological processes that occur once a substance
has entered the body. Were they to enter this terrain, they would
be forced to face relative questions about the bio-availability of different
vitamins, metals and minerals. The old school are absolutists,
concerned with general trends and absolute quantities.

Many nutritional scientists and doctors of the new school, despite
having diverse philosophies, agree upon one thing: industrialised
processed food is often food stripped of its nutritional integrity. And
perhaps more complex than this, once the pre-industrial nutritional
balance is overturned, by man’s intervention, it cannot be simply
recreated by adding synthetic vitamins.7

Whereas the old school looks at singular nutrients and their effect,
the new school has a more holistic approach, looking at the reverberations
of that one nutrient throughout the whole being. More than this,
the new school nutritionists will be feeding data into the equation
relating to such things as environmental pollutants, different combinations
of foods, smoking, drinking and stress.

Because of modern technology, the nutritionist is now able to have
a more detailed understanding of the make-up of the individual body
and the complex interaction which takes place between elements within
it. It is now possible, by testing body fluids and blood, to examine
the various quantities of vitamins and minerals present in the body. It
is also possible to discuss what is termed ‘nutritional status’.

Rather than relying upon generalised considerations such as
Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) levels, new school nutritionists
draw upon information which shows that many nutrients, in
amounts considerably higher than RDA levels, have positive or beneficial
effects in certain states of ill health. Alternatively, some conditions
of ill health can be caused by a deficiency of vitamins and minerals.

Specific nutritional circumstances identified by the new school of
nutritionists demonstrate just how individual people are. The person
who works at a painstaking or stress-producing job, or the person who
internalises emotional conflict, or who smokes cigarettes, will
inevitably burn up different nutritional fuel from the person who is of
a calmer temperament or in more relaxed employment. The stressed
person will need advising upon a different vitamin balance from the
calmer person.

Chemical toxins, whether they arrive in the body through the
ingestion of food, or through the absorption of ambient environmental
substances or even an excessive use of particular vitamins, minerals,
or drugs, all draw upon and to some extent counteract the body’s
nutritional balance. This is simply demonstrated by the examples of
tea and coffee. It has been shown that heavy consumption of either of
these, and the caffeine they contain, can reduce the bio-availability of
vitamin B1 (Thiamine) by as much as 60%.8 Continuous B1 deficiency,
like all important vitamin or mineral deficiencies, can lead eventually
to degenerative disease.

Caffeine affects other vitamins and minerals in the body; it
destroys or depletes potassium, calcium, zinc, magnesium, vitamins A
and C. It can have an adverse effect upon the nervous system, the
heart, the pancreas and the adrenal glands – and it is a factor in as
many as two dozen degenerative diseases. 9

It is evident from such information, that a ‘balanced’ diet for a person
drinking large amounts of tea or coffee is different from a ‘balanced’
diet for the person who drinks neither. Alcohol and sugar are
other ‘taken for granted’ foods which have an effect upon vitamin and
mineral absorption, de-stabilising an otherwise ‘balanced’ diet.

New school and independent nutritionists have moved on far
beyond the simple slogans of the old school and are now in a position
to understand much more about the catalytic effect of a wide range of
vitamins, minerals and foods generally. Given the complex state of
our present knowledge, anodyne advice about ‘square meals’ and ‘balanced’
diets is about as useful as passing a hacksaw to a micro-surgeon.


Because we are, on the whole, what we eat, there are some doctors of
the new school of nutrition who maintain that one of the very first
tests which a doctor should carry out on patients is to measure their
nutritional status. Those doctors who do not assess the nutritional status
of their patients, rarely take it into account during diagnosis.

The training of orthodox doctors has consistently failed to take
nutrition into account. Even when dealing with food-based problems
such as allergy and intolerance, many orthodox doctors steer their way
carefully through any discussion of nutrition. Some doctors would not
consider it a part of their role to give patients authoritative advice on
the consumption of certain foods. These same doctors tend to avoid
making judgments about nutrition. The idea of nutritional treatment
conflicts with their training and the culture of modern medicine,
which has been largely shaped by pharmaceutical interests.
The avoidance by orthodox practitioners of nutrition has meant
that nutritional practice and advice have been relegated to a sub-professional
area of healthcare which tends to be populated by more malleable,
often female, ancillary workers: an area which tends to be
dominated and controlled by the processed food, chemical and pharmaceutical

Increasingly, general practitioners have been de-skilled in the
‘healing arts’. Gradually, they are losing any understanding of the biological
effects of the drugs which they prescribe and the foodstuffs
and chemicals which their patients consume. In a world in which doctors
become detached from the basic skills of healing, issues of nutrition
tend to be approached, if at all, in only the crudest terms.

The most consistent approach in the critical writing about quackbusters
and skeptics looks mainly at science, irrational phenomena
and alternative health.10 However, if we take Goldacre’s writing as
divining the interests of quackbusters, we have to accept that criticism
of independent nutritionists, who owe nothing to either the processed
food industry or the pharmaceutical industry, represents a major part
of The Lobby’s platform.

The modern links between the processed food industry and attacks
on environmental campaigners can be easily traced back to the early
1960s. When Rachel Carson published Silent Spring, the book that
first warned about the effects of pesticides on the natural environment
and in the food chain, the industrial fight-back came not only from the
pesticide manufacturers but also from the American Medical
Association and the American Nutrition Foundation (ANF), at that
time, an organisation supported by 54 chemical and industrial food

The ANF put together a ‘fact kit’ on Silent Spring which was sent
to thousands of public officials, university departments, doctors and
citizens. A letter in the kit from the president of the Foundation
stressed the independence of Carson’s critics and described her book
as ‘distorted’: ‘The problem is’, he said, ‘magnified, in that publicists
and the author’s adherents among the food faddists, health quacks and
special interest groups are promoting her book as if it were scientifically
irreproachable and written by a scientist’.12

The links between quackbusters and processed food corporations
over the last twenty years are substantial and overt, rather than slight
and covert. Regardless of the reality of the denaturing of contemporary
industrial food, the American National Council Against Health
Fraud (NCAHF) has always tried to criminalise those who take an
independent view of nutrition. In a 1989 National Health Fraud
Conference in Kansas City,William T. Jarvis, the founder of NCAHF,
listed ‘those who believe that the food supply is (nutritionally) deplet-
ed and contaminated’ as ‘people that had fallen victim to quackery’.

From its inception, the British Campaign Against Health Fraud
boasted two major names in old-school corporate nutrition, John
Garrow13 and the late Arnold Bender, who died in 1999.14 Both these
nutritionists had spent substantial time with industrial food producers
working on and advising about nutrition.

In 1991, Vincent Marks15 a founder member of CAHF and a longtime
consultant for the sugar industry, wrote Is British Food Bad For
You?16 for the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA), a free market think
tank rooted in British industry, that was responsible for floating many
of Thatcher’s monetarist policies. The booklet was a defence, not of
British food but of industrial food. Of those who feel uncomfortable
with the involvement of corporate science in food production, Marks

These, mainly middle-class, scientifically ill-informed individuals
feel more comfortable with things that are naively or exploitatively
referred to as ‘natural’ – withoutunderstanding quite what that term
means – than theyare with products they perceive as being manufactured
or synthetic.

Stephen Barrett, a leading member and founder of the North American
progenitor of CAHF, the American Council Against Health Fraud,
also professes an expertise in nutrition.17 Barrett has written extensively
and superficially, disputing all claims of environmental influences
on health. He has championed campaigns against the use of
vitamins and alternative medicine of all kinds.

Populist books Barrett has edited or written, some published by
Prometheus, the CSICOP publishing house, include: Vitamins and
Minerals: Help or Harm? (I bet you can’t guess the answer to that
question!); Dubious Cancer Treatment, published by the Florida
Division of the American Cancer Society; Health Schemes, Scams,
and Frauds, published by Consumer Reports Books, and The Vitamin
Pushers: How the “Health Food” Industry Is Selling America a Bill of
Goods, published by Prometheus Books.

Barrett, who runs the Quack Watch web site that attacks everything
alternative or environmental, has been in a state of ongoing warfare
with Tim Bolen, one of the leading investigators, writers and legal
defenders of such quackbuster targets as independent research scientist
and naturopath Hulda Clark, for the past few years.18

Another link between quackbusters and the processed food industry
can be found in the work of John Renner, until his death in 2005,
one of the founding and most active members of the American
National Council Against Health Fraud. Although the US Health
Fraud movement was mainly bankrolled by pharmaceutical interests,
Renner’s corner of the movement was linked to the rich Speas
Foundation, the money for which came from the Speas processed food
empire. Renner began the Kansas City Committee on Health and
Nutrition Fraud and Abuse in 1985, the same year as the American
National Council Against Health Fraud came into being.

Quackbuster attacks on nutritionists have consistently been a part
of the HealthWatch strategy and although Goldacre presents his
exposés as if they were fresh off the press, they are in fact boiler plate
presentations which have been continually repeated since the mid

Following the publication of Dirty Medicine, I began collecting
illustrations of incidents and attacks by HealthWatch and I wrote up a
number of these involving nutritionists. These accounts are worth
going back to. We can learn from them that the same strategies and
even the same phrases are being used by Goldacre today as were used

I am presenting these accounts, below, as they were written. The
first one about Foresight was published in Dirty Medicine in 1993,
while the following three accounts were written up in the mid 1990s.


Even some of the most conservative ‘old school’ nutritionists agree
that there are certain categories of people who may need to supplement
their diet with vitamins. One of these categories has, in the past,
been pregnant women. Many doctors and therapists now believe that
the health and nutritional status not only of the pregnant woman, but
of both prospective parents for some time prior to conception, affect
both the chances of conception and the health of any new-born child.

The relatively recent understanding of the various ways in which
the nutritional status of the future parents affect the health of a child
has led to a growth of practice in the field of pre-conceptual care.

For those doctors and practitioners who use nutritional status as a
guide to health, pre-conceptual care is one of the most important areas
of work. If we are what we eat, for a period of nine months at least so
are our children. It is the circumstances of conception and the medical
history of the two parents, which will lay the foundations for many of
the life-long health complexes of the child.

All the nutritional deficiencies and the chemical toxicities which
affect the adult have an effect upon foetal development. Cigarette
smoking, consumption of alcohol and chemical interventions such as
the contraceptive pill have an effect on the nutritional status of the
adult and therefore the baby.

Work by Professor Michael Crawford of the Institute of Brain
Chemistry and Human Nutrition, in London, has shown that poor
nutritional status of the mother can result in low birth weight and
small head circumference. Small head circumference can mean also
that there are disorders in brain development, ranging from brain damage
to poor learning ability.19 Professor Crawford believes that
by Health Fraud activists over a decade ago.

`between eight and ten per cent of the population fail to reach their full
genetic potential because of poor nutritional status’.20
One of Professor Crawford’s studies of 500 babies in Hackney, a
low income inner-city area of London, showed that 96% of low birthweight
babies (below 51b 8oz) involved in the study were born to
mothers having inferior diets.

Many orthodox doctors have a one-dimensional view of pre-conceptual
nutrition. It has, for example, been common until recently for
doctors automatically to prescribe an iron supplement to pregnant
women. Research now shows, however, that this supplement is likely
to inhibit the absorption of zinc. As British and American women tend
to have a poor zinc intake, the prescription of such supplements could
be counter-productive.

Belinda Barnes, the founder of Foresight (The Association for the
Promotion of Pre-Conceptual Care), comes from a long tradition of
exceptional and informed British amateurs. She has extended her own
education through extensive reading, correspondence and frequent
meetings with experts. She has the amateur’s determination to prise
information from professionals and then put it to use in the public
domain. She has no faith in the mystique of professional opinions nor
any regard for the hallowed institutions of academia. She believes first
and foremost in information for the people. She and the doctors who
work with Foresight have been giving nutritional advice for over a
decade to pregnant women and providing medical help to couples who
have difficulty in conceiving or who have frequent miscarriages.

Like others in the field of pre-conceptual care, Belinda Barnes
found herself committed to the subject following her own bad experience
with child health and orthodox medicine.

My first son had coeliac disease. It took a long time to get
that diagnosed. We nearly lost him. We had a number of
poor interventions in his case and I suppose that it was at
that time that I began to query conventional medicine.

Then my daughter was born with a tumour on the spinal
cord; this partially paralysed her. For a long time I couldn’t
get any doctor to agree that there was anything wrong
with her. It wasn’t until she was 19 months that they
agreed there was something seriously wrong. This experience
again gave me an insight into the limitations of the
orthodox medical profession.

My son had a lot of problems as a consequence of his coeliac
disease. I now know that these were deficiency illnesses,
he had eczema, bad dyslexia and hyperactivity. 21
Belinda Barnes learnt serious lessons from the births of her three children.
After her third child started school, she began trying to help others
by dispensing the dietary information she had learnt while treating
her first son’s coeliac disease.

We lived near one of the Cheshire Homes; we used to go
up there and take fruit and things. One day after reading
an article by Roger McDougal, the playwright who overcame
his own MS, I suggested that I could help them to
produce a gluten free diet for the people who had Multiple
Sclerosis. There was a lot of opposition and negativity
about it. This was around 1973.22

The need for nutritional advice for coeliac disease was evident, but
just as Dr Jean Monro had found, Belinda Barnes began to suffer the
irrational hostility of some orthodox doctors.

By the mid-seventies, Belinda Barnes was getting more deeply
involved in learning about nutrition. She was corresponding with people,
meeting experts privately and at conferences, and she was reading
voraciously. In the introduction to a book published in 199023
Barnes explains how a friendly and inquisitive letter to an American
doctor, whose paper she had read in the Journal of Orthomolecular
Psychiatry, set her off on the serious quest for knowledge about nutrition.

Dr Elizabeth Lodge-Rees flew into Heathrow one memorable
dawn: `I’ve got arms the length of an orangutan,
honey, from carting all those darned books in my handluggage
– I’ve nearly dislocated both shoulders!’ The
hand-luggage contained education for life! Amongst those
`darned books’ were Dr Weston Price’s epic Nutrition and
Physical Degeneration,24 the works of that brilliant and
witty nutritionist Dr Roger Williams,25 Wilfred Shute on
Vitamin E,26 Linus Pauling on Vitamin C,27 Carl Pfeiffer on
trace minerals,28 and Adelle Davis.29 Despite having Beth
as a house guest, I read until 4.30am that night.30

Belinda Barnes’ enthusiasm to turn her knowledge into practical help
for people made her many friends and throughout the seventies she
met and read about an increasing number of people who were beginning
to do work on deficiencies and toxicity.

I met Professor Sir Humphry Osmond’s sister Dorothy and
then got to know him by letter. He was working in the USA
with vitamins and minerals and the effect which they have
on people’s mental efficiency or difficulty.

I was in touch with people in America and Canada where
different people were working on different things, like
Oberleas and Caldwell on zinc,71 and David Horrobin,72 and
Lucille Hurley.73

Mrs Barnes also began to meet the people who would form the supportive
structure of Foresight – the doctors and scientific analysts on
whom Foresight would depend to formulate programmes. She was in
touch with the Schizophrenia Association of Great Britain and on the
committee of Sanity.

By the late nineteen seventies she became convinced that the
majority of early child health problems were the consequence of vitamin
and mineral deficiencies or a high intake of toxic metals and pesticides.
She met Professor Derek Bryce Smith who at that time was
working on the damaging effects of lead in petrol.

As her commitment grew, Mrs Barnes began to notice that certain
areas of her work were, for one reason or another, being suppressed.

She interprets this now as the product of professional jealousy. In
America, Elizabeth Lodge-Rees, who was using hair analysis and
working on vitamin and mineral deficiencies, was also having a hard
time. Belinda Barnes found that so much of the original work in the
field of nutrition, like that done by Pfeiffer on zinc, was quickly relegated
to a sub-culture of alternative health practice. Barnes saw also
that Dr Jean Monro, with whom she was now working, found it very
difficult to get her work published in journals. Dr Ellen Grant, who
was doing extensive scientific work on the deleterious effects of the
birth control pill,74 was being shunted to the margins of science and

Nutritional advice for future parents was considered ‘cranky’ by
most doctors. Belinda Barnes, despite being an amateur, has, however,
a more rigorous and intellectual attitude than many orthodox professionals.

The history of nutritional medicine is real history, the history
of a real movement which has gained knowledge
since the 1930s. It is a scientifically serious movement,
one which is documented in scientific and medical
research papers. We are not talking about some quack
treatment which a few cranks have tried.

Belinda Barnes, commenting on the contemporary state of child
health, makes the point that there is today, often a connection between
the medical profession and industry which creates a self-serving circle,
from which real science is excluded.

Because of pesticide residues in food, there are now many
more allergic conditions amongst children and children
are getting them even sooner. The situation is deteriorating
all the time. We now know for instance that pesticides
reduce the bio-availability of magnesium. The number of
children born with complaints like eczema, epilepsy and
asthma is increasing all the time, seemingly in relation to
the increased use of chemicals in the environment.

Miscarriages, malformations and cot death are also

In relation to chemical solutions to these problems, there
is a kind of circular pattern. A chemical company may
make a crop spray which gives people allergic, cold-type
symptoms, and the same company will market an overthe-
counter remedy for such illness.75

In 1986, Foresight published a pocket-sized booklet,76 ‘designed for
the handbag’. It listed all chemical food additives and colour coded
them, so that they could be easily identified as those which might be
dangerous (red), those about which there were conflicting views
(orange) and finally those which appeared to have no adverse side
effects (green). The gradual development of Foresight into this more
combative area of nutritional advice, together with an emphasis on the
problems caused to mothers and babies by pesticides, have taken it out
of the ‘interested amateur’ category and thrown it into the thick of the
battle with the chemical and pharmaceutical companies. Also in 1986,
Foresight produced its own wholefood cookery book77 and Belinda
Barnes wrote The Hyperactive Child,78 a book which has become a

The cynicism of many orthodox doctors and a lack of patient participation
made it more or less inevitable that Foresight would be
pushed to the margins. However valuable its work, Foresight was part
of an underclass of health organisations. Access to media is always
restricted, and there are few windows in the prevalent medical ideology
through which it was able to voice its opinions.

Foresight originally sent hair to America for hair mineral analysis,
but in 1985 Dr Stephen Davies and Biolab began doing their analysis
in London. By this time, thirty or forty nutritional doctors were working
with would-be parents on a wide range of problems. Belinda
Barnes was still a long way from her ultimate goal of getting pre-conceptual
care integrated into the National Health Service, but at least
Foresight had a regular following and appeared to have been accepted
by many professionals in the field.

In 1989 HealthWatch began a campaign against Foresight, firstly
by an odd diversionary tactic. Out of the blue, Belinda Barnes
received a letter from Professor John Garrow, one of the original
members of CAHF. Garrow’s letter suggested that Foresight’s results
were not as well documented as they might be. He would be prepared
to help with a double blind trial, if Foresight were to fund it. The
request was bizarre. As well as having spent his working life in the
food industry, Garrow did research for a major multi-national company,
whilst Foresight was a small voluntary charity.

Belinda Barnes found Garrow’s offer repugnant, mainly on ethical
grounds. People who turn to Foresight are often suffering great anxiety
and unhappiness because they are unable to conceive. In many
cases, Foresight doctors are able to resolve these problems through the
clinical application of nutrition and other natural interventions. Adouble
blind trial would have involved refusing treatment to half of those
who turned to Foresight for help.

Belinda Barnes dealt carefully and diplomatically with the letter,
discussing the problems and politely but firmly declining the offer
which disclosed a not-so-hidden agenda. She was somewhat surprised,
therefore, to see her private correspondence with Garrow published
in the fourth CAHF newsletter in April 1990, under the heading,
‘The Foresight Saga’. The article poured scorn on Foresight and
tried lamentably to find criticisms of its aims and methods, drawing
mainly upon the letters exchanged with Garrow. Although Belinda
Barnes did not know it at the time, she had fallen for one of the
Campaign’s classic con-tricks. Having drawn an individual or an
organisation into a dialogue, it then distorts and manipulates the information
gained, and places it in the public domain.

In 1990, twelve years after starting Foresight, Belinda Barnes
wrote Planning for a Healthy Baby: essential reading for all future
parents, with Suzanne Gail Bradley.79 This book managed to do something
which the whole of orthodox medicine had been unable to do,
about a subject as simple and as popular as pregnancy and pre-conceptual
care. The book maps out the steps that possible parents may
take prior to conception to ensure the optimum health of their child.

In 1991, members of HealthWatch, which was by then a charity,
were involved in a major attack upon Foresight, also a charity. Belinda
Barnes picked up the phone one day to find herself talking to a truculent
and aggressive Thames Television research worker called Cillian
de Boutlier. He was, he said, going to ‘expose’ Foresight. He asked for
an interview, saying that the programme would be done anyway and
it would be better for Belinda Barnes if she did an interview. Faced
with that, Barnes felt that she did not have much option, and so Cillian
de Boutlier came to Belinda Barnes’ house with an interviewer, a producer
and a camera team.

In the pre-interview discussion, the first question that the interviewer
asked her reflected the crew’s view of the subject: didn’t Mrs
Barnes think the world would be a terrible place if all babies were
healthy? On this level of Darwinian erudition the interview began.

Belinda Barnes found it impossible to voice her opinions in
response to the kind of questions which she was asked and, following
the interview, the programme came as no surprise to Belinda Barnes.
Foresight was attacked because it advocated the use of vitamins and
food supplements and because its view of pre-conceptional care was
in conflict with the views of the multi-national chemical and pharmaceutical

To bolster the case of the Thames Television programme, a
Company magazine journalist, Margaret Hendricks, visited three of
the doctors who work with Foresight, as a bogus patient. Hendricks
gave a false name and address to two of the three doctors, and pre-
sented all of them with a set of widely differing medical family histories.

As in other ‘bogus patient’ cases, the starting assumption for the
three consultations was that the doctors were doing something wrong.
The Thames Action programme on Foresight was broadcast on
February 15th 1991. The programme made a number of allegations
against Belinda Barnes and Foresight. However, it was most critical of
the three doctors whose time the journalist had wasted. Each doctor,
the programme claimed, had given the patient different regimes. This
was not true.

Margaret Hendricks had given a different medical history to each
doctor and then because of her subterfuge had been unable to go back
to the doctors for a follow-up appointment. Much to the programme
makers’ chagrin, all three doctors had written in their notes for the
bogus patient: ‘This is a basically healthy young woman’. Given this,
Hendricks was forced to try to bully one of the doctors into prescribing
her vitamins; she was offered only a multivitamin supplement.

The doctors upon whom the programme dwelt were the same ones
whom HealthWatch and Duncan Campbell had already criticised: Dr
Stephen Davies, Dr Damien Downing and Dr Belinda Dawes, all doctors
active in the British Society for Nutritional Medicine.

The overall view given by the programme was that Foresight was
a sinister and disreputable organisation which was charging people,
who were at their most vulnerable, large amounts of money, for experimental
and ineffective treatments. None of the doctors nor the
research director of Foresight had been approached by the programme
to give a medical view. Later, before the Broadcasting Complaints
Commission, the programme makers claimed that it was not a programme
for experts, but one for lay people and they had therefore
interviewed Mrs Barnes. However, to dispute her lay views, the programme
presented two qualified ‘experts’, a gynaecologist and Dr
Andrew Taylor, a colleague of Professor Vincent Marks at Surrey
University. The BCC was later to say that those consulted by Thames
Action, were not ‘known for their strong beliefs either for or against’!

Andrew Taylor’s office on the Surrey University complex is, coincidentally,
just a hundred yards from the office in the Chemistry
Department of Foresight’s research director, Dr Neil Ward. Dr Ward is
an ebullient, well-qualified and populist lecturer, a man eminently
suited to talk to a lay audience. Mrs Barnes had suggested from the
outset that Dr Ward be asked to appear on the programme.

In her later criticism of the programme to the Broadcasting
Complaints Commission (BCC), Belinda Barnes makes the point that
if the programme makers wanted to accuse Foresight doctors of unethical
practice in prescribing and charging for vitamin and mineral supplements,
then they should have made a complaint to the General
Medical Council. As it was, this ‘slur by television’, which did not
even allow the doctors a right of reply, made the common practice of
both the doctors and the charity for which they worked appear to be
sinister and crooked.

The BCC, in a typically equivocal manner, found partially in
favour of the programme, and partially in favour of Foresight, saying
in part: ‘In the Commission’s view, the overall tone of the programme
was, however, unfairly derogatory to Foresight, particularly in the section
relating to the prescription by Foresight doctors of vitamin and
mineral supplements and of the charges made by doctors for them. An
impression was given – by the showing of bank-notes changing hands
and the accompanying commentary – that the doctors, and perhaps
Foresight, were benefiting unjustly at the expense of their patients.

The Commission understand that the charging by doctors in private
practice for prescriptions of this sort is, in fact, sanctioned by the
BMA … The programme was unfair in that it did not give Foresight a
proper opportunity to explain to viewers that there was substantial scientific
backing, in the form of earlier research, for their approach to
pre-conceptual care’.80


Linda Lazarides81 is one of the most committed and knowledgeable of
the new school of nutritionists; she trained at a London nutritional
organisation, but says now that she has learnt most from her regular
clients. After her training in 1988 she established the Society for the
Promotion of Nutritional Therapy (SPNT).

Like a number of other organisations, SPNT puts enquirers in
touch with qualified practitioners of nutritional medicine. Over the
years it has grown to be one of the foremost nutritional organisations
in contact with a large number of practitioners, who deal with a wide
diversity of health problems.

The other aspect of SPNT is described by Linda Lazarides as ‘producing
PR on nutritional therapies’. There is no corporate membership
of SPNT, only personal membership with a lay and professional
board. Linda Lazarides has always had her sights firmly set on education
and SPNT has consistently worked with universities to set up
educational courses in nutrition.

Separately from her work inside SPNT, Linda Lazarides has
become one of the most accomplished campaigners against European
directives on vitamins and food supplements. The Save Our
Supplements (SOS) campaign, which she organised, managed to bring
to a halt the first moves towards a European directive on vitamin and
food supplements in 1990.

On 2nd November 1992, the BBC broadcast a Watchdog Special
about the healthfood trade. At that time, Watchdog was being produced
by Sarah Caplan, the partner of Nick Ross, the long-standing
Chairman of HealthWatch. Like some other consumer-type programmes
of this period, Watchdog was often a gimcrack magazine
programme, with very low journalistic standards, put together from
vested interest stories and guided by the personal prejudices of its

The present generation of Watchdog programmes has changed the
format radically. The programme now keeps viewers continuously in
contact with the complainants by live phone link: this method makes
for a programme in which viewers are kept in touch with the genuine
concerns of consumers and lay complainants.

The Watchdog Special on November 2nd 1992 concentrated on
dietary supplements, herbal products and nutritional therapists. The
programme was wholly informed by the health fraud movement and
its main thesis was that, due to inadequate controls, the public at large
was not only being duped but taking serious risks by purchasing products
from healthfood shops. Professor John Garrow, one of the
founder members of HealthWatch, was the ‘nutritionist’ consulted by
the programme.

‘Scientific’ tests carried out on some food supplements were done
by Professor Vincent Marks’ colleague Dr Andrew Taylor at the
Robens Institute. These tests claimed to show that a number of food
and dietary supplements were not metabolised in the body and therefore
were not made bio-available; the programme used the term ‘bedpan
bullets’ to describe these supplements, which they claimed passed
straight through the body!

The Broadcasting Complaints Commission received a large number
of complaints following the programme. One member of SPNT
described the programme as a ‘litany of blatant misinformation, half
truths and innuendo’. SPNT singled out a number of areas in which it
considered the programme was unfair, saying that it was biased in its
selection of advisors and that it failed to inform viewers that the programme’s
main advisor, Dr Garrow, was a member of HealthWatch.
By its badly researched innuendo, SPNT suggested, the programme
fostered fear and anxiety.

Eight months after it had made its complaint to the Broadcasting
Complaints Commission, SPNT was still waiting for a date to be set
for a hearing. The BBC disputed every date suggested by the
Commission. One company cited in the programme, Bio-Health, did
receive an apology from the programme when it became apparent that
the programme’s chosen consultant had used the wrong ‘scientific’
test to assess its product. When eventually the BCC hearing was held,
it found in favour of SPNT.


The concern of the health fraud movement, that anyone might want to
change the traditional British diet of meat and two veg, is manifest at
its most extreme in its gratuitous attacks upon alternative diets and
nutritional programmes.

The Hay diet has as its central rubric, ‘don’t eat foods that fight’.
The suggestion that it is beneficial to health to eat only certain foods
in combination is a relatively well accepted idea. If only certain foods
are eaten in tandem, digestion and absorption of food are made easier.

This principle is particularly important in individuals who suffer
from allergies, which may originate, not with one food but with a
reaction between foods and digestive enzymes. The metabolic consequences
of certain combinations of foods can be putrefaction and fermentation
in the gut. Clearly, this information could be important to
people suffering from certain types of chronic illness.

Dr Hay, an American, developed the idea and the diet in the 1950s
and since then it has moved in and out of public favour, although the
basic principle of the diet has been adhered to in a number of ‘alternative’
nutritional programmes for chronic illness.

In 1994, Kathryn Marsden, a nutritional therapist, wrote an updating
book about the Hay Diet, which was published by Thorsons.82 As
soon as the book was published she came under attack from
HealthWatch.83 Eventually, the strain of combating a campaign of
press articles and telephone calls to her and her publishers became too
much for her to cope with.

One part of this apparently gratuitous assault has to be understood
in the context of ongoing arguments within the medical profession
about allergies and food. HealthWatch members, from Caroline
Richmond onwards, have always argued vociferously against the idea
that industrially produced food might cause ill health. Another aspect
of the assault can be contexturalised by the attitude of medical orthodoxy
towards preventative health programmes. HealthWatch appears
to believe that medical conditions have no contexturalising
antecedents; consequently ill health, which is inevitable, can only be
treated and never avoided.


The crude prejudices of HealthWatch in relation to allergy and diet
were manifest in its attacks on the NuTron Diet. This diet was the idea
of Dr Patrick Kingsley and Ian Stoakes. Some doctors and practitioners
who believe in widespread effects of food allergy have consistently
put forward the argument that allergy, which creates a breakdown
of cells in the affected parts of the body, can lead to substantial water
retention, which often looks like weight gain.

It is clear from the case of Stoakes and Kingsley that
HealthWatch, like some malign fury, pursues and targets individuals,
rather than the work in which they are involved. Both Stokes and
Kingsley had been attacked by HealthWatch before they worked
together on the NuTron diet. Dr Patrick Kingsley is an allergy specialist
and a founder member of the two British professional bodies
representing nutritional and environmental medicine; he was also the
chief medical officer of Foresight. Duncan Campbell drew attention to
Dr Kingsley in an issue of the BBC Food and Drink Programme, in
which he was accused of taking commission from vitamin companies
on the vitamins which he prescribed.84

Ian Stoakes had always had an interest in diet and behaviour and
chose the rocky course of attempting to practise his ideas first in a
training unit for mentally handicapped adolescents and later in a
Home Office secure unit. In 1989, he became Chief Executive of the
Dietary Research Foundation which ran a multi-national two years’
study researching diet and delinquency. This study attracted the attention
of Duncan Campbell and HealthWatch. Campbell published a
long critical article on the study in the Independent on Sunday.85

Dr Kingsley and Ian Stoakes were convinced that almost every
individual was intolerant to some food and they decided that if they
could determine which substances individuals were intolerant of, they
could systematically warn people against eating these substances and
so promote weight loss. After some research, they began using a
haematological analyser to test blood and food substances. When a
blood sample, mixed with a small quantity of food, passed through the
machine, it recorded on a computer screen any degranulation of neutrophils,
an inevitable cellular effect of food intolerance.

The work of Stoakes and Kingsley and the development of what
they came to call the NuTron Diet, were soundly based upon considerable
work done previously by immunologists, allergy doctors and
researchers. Throughout their development work, they sought the
advice of doctors and haematologists, to ensure that their tests were
scientifically rigorous.

Ironically, when HealthWatch finally did decide to attack them,
the company was visited by Professor Vincent Marks, who arrived full
of scepticism about the ‘diet’, but left asking if shares could be bought
in the company! The high technology, scientifically verifiable work
that Kingsley and Stoakes were doing was very close to the assay and
testing work which Marks himself had been doing in his various companies.

Other members of HealthWatch were not so charitable as
Professor Marks. The organisation contacted the Consumers’
Association, which has always been antagonistic to anything which
challenges orthodox allopathic medicine and the more conservative
views on diet and nutrition. The Association ran two ‘pulp fiction’
attacks on the NuTron Diet, accusing Kingsley and Stoakes of being
charlatans intent upon ripping off vulnerable overweight people.
Following these articles, Dr David Pearson appeared on a BBC1 chat
show facing Ian Stoakes. Dr Pearson found it difficult to control himself
and the item ended in an unseemly verbal brawl.

Despite the fact that these attacks had little scientific, or even logical
integrity, within a month the number of people interested in the
NuTron Diet fell dramatically and the company, which had been
involved in considerable capital outlay, was only just able to survive.

In his contemporary attacks on independent nutritionists, Goldacre
uses the strategy common to all quackbusters, which is to choose one
nutritionist, or a statement from a particular nutritionist, and use it to
attack all nutritionists. This is, of course, like suggesting that when
one allopathic doctor makes a mistake that kills his patient, all doctors
are murderers.

Goldacre spins his material to reflect the fact that science does
not support the claims of particular people. This can be done at times
only by ignoring the science that does exist or hinting at science that
does not.

In a series of articles in his ‘Bad Science’ column, since 2004,86
Goldacre has campaigned against Gillian McKeith, the TV nutritionist
who coincidentally became the target of HealthWatch’s John
Garrow, the British Dietetic Association and the MHRA at the same
time.87 However, it was Goldacre’s story, ‘A Menace to Science’, that
appeared in the Guardian in March 2007, that stirred the journalist
and author Jerome Burne to try placing a response in that paper. Here
is Burne’s account of failing to secure the right of reply.

Following the Gillian McKeith article by Goldacre, I was sufficiently
irritated by it to contact the Guardian to write some
sort of response. I first spoke to their blog section, who
asked me to write something (Appendix Eleven). However,
they said that it didn’t fit with their style and I was passed on
to the comment page editor, who said he was interested.

He asked for a piece that did not just attack Goldacre but
made some general points – this is obviously not a limitation
put on Goldacre himself. So I wrote a second piece (Appendix
Eleven), but the editor came back to me to say that there
were some problems with it. When I asked what they were,
he said that he had shown it to Goldacre, who had pointed
out errors.

The first concerned an analysis of one of the trials that
Goldacre had quoted as showing that antioxidants were ineffective.
This had been written by myself and Patrick Holford,
and was posted on the Food is Better Medicine than Drugs
web site. You can see what the point was in the piece.
However, Goldacre had told the editor that it was wrong – no
further details.

The second point said by Goldacre to be wrong was my
claim that 200,000 Alzheimer’s patients in the UK were currently
being given antipsychotic medication. This was even
though these drugs are not licensed to treat this condition
(ie, it is given without being supported by clinical trials); not
only that, but there were trials to show that they are both
dangerous and ineffective in this patient group. Again,
Goldacre’s claim was accepted, even though the details I had
uncovered had been done with the co-operation of the main
Alzheimer’s charity.

I am a competent and experienced journalist. I think the
pieces make points that I have not seen made about
Goldacre before. It is hard to escape the conclusion that they
were making judgements about whether or not to publish on
some basis other than the quality of the copy. My third piece
(Appendix 11) was sent to the BMJ following the publication
of a version of the McKeith article. It was published.


A common tricks of quackbusters when they target someone, is to
spread the information round to colleagues and aligned organisations
so that everyone can have a go. This broad frontal attack, gives the
public the impression that not only is the person in question, a thoroughly
bad lot, but so think a large number of qualified professionals.
However, it takes only a superficial look at the vested interests of
those who crawl out of the woodwork for attacks of this kind, to see
that they are really coming from only one source.

In January 2007, The Independent on Sunday carried an article
entitled Doctors warn against food fad dangers, written by Sophie
Goodchild and Jonathan Owen. The article was a clear re-hash of
Goldacre’s ‘bad’ writing. Apart from anonymous ‘experts’ the main
interviewee for the article was Catherine Collins. Collins is chief
dietician at St George’s Hospital in London and one of the foremost
spokeswomen for the British Dietetic Association (BDA), she is not a
doctor but lets skip over that unintended inaccuracy in the articles

The article made a completely gratuitous attack on Patrick
Holford, all the details of which were wrong. But then, so what, since
when have journalists been concerned with the truth?

The article is a general attack on Holford, supported by one specific
case. The following sentence seems to cram in all the phobic
fears and obsessions of the vested interest campaign for processed

It (the BDA) says it is a “massive concern” that people are
relying on supplements that have no proven health benefits
or following extreme diets in the mistaken belief that
they are intolerant to certain types of food.

Here are all the underpinning strategic bullet points of the quackbusters
campaign against Holford, illustrated in that one long sentence.

• Experts and professionals (in what?) are massively concerned.

• People are ‘relying’ on supplements (rather than what?)

• Supplements have no proven health benefits.

• People are following ‘extreme diets’ (extreme in what sense?)

• People who fall for this nutritional therapy are suffering from
‘false illness beliefs’.

• No one has food intolerance, certainly not those who claim
themselves to have it.

With respect to this particular article only one basic rubric is not
included in that sentence and this is a specific rather than a general

• Treating autism has nothing to do with diet.

In the more detailed example of the iniquity of Patrick Holford,
Collins told The Independent on Sunday that she is so concerned about
the case (of the advice given to the parents of a young autistic girl),
that she intended to write to the British Association for Nutritional
Therapy about Holford.

According to Catherine Collins, following a seven-month experiment
Mr Holford carried out on children at a school in Merton, south
London, the weight of one girl whose parents were advised by
Holford to remove soya milk and cow’s milk from her diet, dropped
dramatically. These claims, the paper said, had been denied by Mr
Holford (… but we’re not going to print what he’s said because we
don’t give space to frauds in this paper – added by the author.)
The article continues:

“The tests that were carried out were misleading, and this
child suffered sleep problems and her weight dropped as
a result of the advice [Mr Holford] gave. It’s extremely
worrying when it involves children with special educational
needs,” said Ms Collins, who has more than 20 years’
experience as a dietician.

People are making themselves ill by following the advice
of untrained and unqualified diet doctors, according to the
British Dietetic Association (BDA).89

Experts are warning that the “Gillian McKeith effect” is
having a negative impact on the nation’s health. Ms
McKeith has achieved huge popularity with Channel 4’s
You Are What You Eat, but this has encouraged others to
set themselves up as diet and lifestyle gurus although
many have no training. Anyone can call himself a nutritionist,
unlike dieticians who need a degree and a stateregistered

Those under fire include Patrick Holford, who has built up
a diet empire based on his alternative approaches to
nutrition. Experts are calling for the GMTV nutritionist to
be investigated by his professional body over advice he
gave to a young autistic girl.

Before we look at Patrick Holford’s letter to The Independent on
Sunday that refutes everything said by Collins, lets take a quick look
at the BDA, just to see whether or not there might be any hint of vested
interests that have not been declared in The Independent on

Of 17 member BDA Council only two are men, one of these predictably
is the Chair of the Trade Union Committee. The BDA leans
heavily towards the food and medical industry. A large number of
dieticians are nurses and many of the council members work in hospitals
and in specialist health centres with doctors.

One way of seeing who supports organisations like the BDA is to
look at their conference reports to see who has given funding. The
June 2007 conference of the BDA held in Belfast was assisted by
amongst others: Abbott Nutrition,90 Birds Eye, Canned Food UK,
Ferring Pharmaceuticals, Flora, Food & Drink Federation, Kellogg’s,
Nestlé Healthcare Nutrition,91 Novartis Medical Nutrition,92 and
Procter & Gamble.

The Food and Drink Federation plays a big part in supporting the
BDA. As the professional federation of the food and drinks industry,
it obviously has its membership at heart in its support of the BDA.

The FDA is advised and ‘supported by a number of senior figures
from across the industry who, in their roles as our elected officers,
provide the strategic input and leadership that shapes the work we do
in our priority areas.’

The present elected officers of the FDF, helping to steer the FDF
to greater things, include: Iain Ferguson, Group Chief Executive, Tate
& Lyle; Ross Warburton, Director of Warburtons, Chairman of
Richmond Foods; Fiona Dawson, Managing Director, UK
Snackfoods; Salman Amin, the President of Pepsi Co UK who Chairs
the Health and Wellbeing Steering Group.

The BDA is involved in a number of campaigns, and in each of
these they are partnered by commercial organisation. Past partners
have included Canned Food UK, the Food & Drink Federation,
Kelloggs, Masterfoods, Sainsburys and Slimming World.93

The Independent on Sunday immediately printed the letter that
Patrick Holford wrote to them following the article.94 The letter needs
no further explanation.

I write in response to the article “Doctors warn against
food fad dangers” in your edition of 7 January.

Catherine Collins claims that the autistic child “suffered
sleep problems and her weight dropped as a result of the
advice Mr Holford gave” and that “her parents were told
to remove soya milk and cow’s milk from her diet”. In
fact, before we even started this project, the child had
been diagnosed by her doctors as milk allergic and was
already on a dairy-free diet, additionally refusing to have
soya milk. She was also a very poor and fussy eater and
was sleeping very little, waking up throughout the night.

Since the project started we have expanded the foods
she’ll eat, improved her diet and given her supplements.
As a result of our intervention she is now less hyperactive,
sleeping much better, has reduced her asthma and
consequently her need for asthma medication.

Behaviour-wise she has, on independent behavioural
tests, made significant improvements in her attention
deficit hyperactivity disorder, social difficulties, shyness
and anxiety. Her mother is extremely pleased with the
results. “Before she woke up a lot in the night. Now she
sleeps the whole night without waking,” she says. “She is
behaving better and has calmed down a lot.”

Her psychiatrist actually called us to find out what we had
been doing to bring about these obvious improvements.
The temporary weight loss may have occurred when we
put her on a gluten-free diet following a food intolerance
test which identified that she was gluten sensitive.

Unfortunately she wouldn’t eat the gluten-free options so
we put her back on pasta, for example, which she would
eat. Wheat gluten and dairy allergy is quite common in
autistic children. She has since regained the weight she

The results of the project, which is proving highly successful,
can be found on our web site.

Patrick Holford – Food for the Brain Foundation

London SW18

Other dieticians besides Collins have been drawn into the fray by
Goldacre’s insidious scribbling and have tried to score a couple of
quick points in favour of industrial food. As far as dieticians are concerned,
Goldacre should come with a health warning; anyone less tolerant
than Holford would undoubtedly have taken legal action against
the dietician below.

On the day that Holford’s Food for the Brain research was to be
featured on Tonight with Trevor MacDonald, Friday 13th July 2007, a
Dietician Services Co-ordinator in Bradford, and Team Leader of
Bradford Nutrition & Dietetics Service at StLuke’s Hospital, Jackie
Loach, circulated the following note with a covering letter:

Below is some information that has been circulated today
at Bradford College and so presumably to many other
areas of education. It is publicising a food for the brain
programme to improve attainment in schools and is being
featured in Tonight with Trevor MacDonald tonight at
8pm. Food For the Brain is a programme being promoted
by self styled nutritionist Patrick Holford who set up the
Institute of Optimum Nutrition (awarding himself a diploma
in nutrition from it!) The programme is the cause of
much concern to registered dieticians and Nutritionists
and many others as it can involve food restrictions, various
supplements (selling them appears to be a large part
of his business) along with some healthy eating (which is
of course probably the cause of any improvement seen)
but he seems to be a convincing salesman. It has been
said that he is looking for a market for his ‘graduates’ to
work in and schools (particularly in vulnerable areas)
seem good! There is no evidence base or good research
protocol behind these interventions and they are not published
anywhere. (You may be interested to know that
another one of his ideas is that Vit C supplements are better
than drug treatments for HIV and he has recently
been touring S Africa to promote this.)

Dieticians like Loach obviously understand the damage that they are
doing to Holford’s reputation, after all they are adults … I think. What
do they imagine gives them the right to malign honest citizens? Ben
Goldacre can get away with it because he is supported and protected
by the Guardian’s power and money, but what magical powers does
Jackie Loach imagine place her beyond the legal normal social rules
of civil society?

Her hospital was quick to respond to Holford’s letter of complaint
of July 19th sent to Sarah Finnigan, the Complaints Officer of
Bradford Royal Infirmary.

Dear Ms Finnigan,

I am writing to you regarding the inappropriate circulation
of highly defamatory and libellous information, based on
false allegations about myself and the work of the educational
charity, Food for the Brain, of which I am CEO, by
Dr Jackie Loach, your community dietician and services
coordinator. I have not cc’d her in on this letter and leave
that to your discretion. I have no objection.

Apart from giving grounds for legal action, as a health
professional I suspect that this contravenes your hospital’s
code of conduct and that of the dietetic profession.
The false allegations are as follows:

1. I did not award myself a diploma in nutrition. The
Institute I founded in 1984 in a bona fide educational
charity that offers degree-accredited training in nutritional
therapy. This false allegation was made by Ben
Goldacre, a journalist in the Guardian with a particular
point of view regarding nutrition, and corrected in the
Guardian (see attached).

2. The project referred to relates to that carried out by
the educational charity Food for the Brain Foundation, of
which I am CEO. I am both attaching the press release
(see attached) giving the outline and results of this project,
shown on Tonight with Trevor MacDonald on Friday
13th. If you need any more information I suggest you
speak to the Chairman of our Scientific Advisory Board,
Professor David Smith, former Vice Dean of Oxford’s
University’s faculty of medical science. If required, please
give me a time and a number he can call.

3. In this project we gave children a multivitamin and an
essential fat supplement. These were donated. No one
profited in any way from this. I personally have no
involvement with, or financial gain from the products

4. The reason we recommended vitamin and mineral supplementation,
as well as dietary changes, is that there
have been thirteen randomised-controlled trials on the
effects of giving multivitamins to schoolchildren, ten of
which have been positive (see attached). Generally, the
worst the child’s nutrition and the worse their academic
performance, the greater the response. This school was
the eleventh worst SAT results when we selected them,
and had 31% of children classified as special educational

5. The reason we recommended essential fat supplementation
was that there have been three RCTs giving
EPA/DHA/GLA fatty acid supplementation (Omega 3 & 6)
to children with ADHD type problems and learning or
coordination difficulties, all of which have proven beneficial,
and considerably more supportive evidence of the
need for essential fats in brain development, mood and
behaviour (see attached). Many children in this school
had similar issues to those that had benefited, never ate
oily fish or seeds, and did not like it. We have, through
the process of this project, achieved one serving a week
of oily fish for some, but not all, and more children now
eat seeds, but their intake alone is not likely to be sufficient
in relation to what is known about optimal essential
fat intake – hence supplementation.

6. The results of this project will be published in a scientific
journal, with peer review. The project only finished
this month. Apart from the information issued in the press
release, and shown in the documentary, we are restricted
in how much information we can disclose prior to publication.
Please note the comment of Professor of Nutrition,
Helga Refsum, who kindly agreed to check the preliminary

7. I have never stated that ‘Vit C supplements are better
than drug treatments for HIV’. Nor have I ‘recently been
touring S Africa to promote this’. This false allegation was
made in the Guardian by Goldacre, and corrected by the
author of the research I cited (Dr Raxit Jariwalla) (see
attached), whose letter was published in the Guardian on
Jan 20th, 2006. Also see

8. Our nutritional therapists are all members of the British
Association of Nutritional Therapy (see
uk). The difference between this and the British Dietetic
Association is the former involves voluntary registration
and the latter involves state registration. This does make
them not ‘bona fide’.

All these points are a matter of public record. For example,
see my entry in Wikipedia and also see the information
on the web site I do not
imagine that Jackie Loach was not aware of this.

Provided you can give me the assurance that this will not
happen again, and that all people circulated this information
are re-circulated an agreed statement of apology neither
I, nor the Food for the Brain Foundation, of which I
am CEO, intend to take this matter further.
The hospital replied quickly with a straightforward apology to
Holford, below. However, one has to ask oneself if mud sticks, and
whether or not the quackbuster tactics of Goldacre are working when
an honest person is forced to spend endless amounts of time, defending
their character from the weasel words of a nobody.

“On 13 July 2007, Jackie Loach, Community Dietician/
Services Co-ordinator, circulated an email which alleged
that Patrick Holford had awarded himself a Diploma in
Nutrition from the institute of Optimum Nutrition and that
one of his ideas is that Vitamin C supplements are better
than drug treatments for HIV. Mr Holford has since written
to the Complaints Officer at Bradford Royal Infirmary
refuting Dr Loach’s allegations. In the interests of fairness
and balance, we are pleased to circulate Mr Holford’s letter
dated 19 July 2007 in which he sets out his response
to Dr Loach’s letter and we are pleased to offer our apologies
to Mr Holford for any distress which may have been
caused to him.”

Despite his MA in philosophy, Goldacre appears completely ignorant
of any sociological appraisal of science and nutrition. Just as quackery
apparatchiks lambaste alternative medicine while saying nothing
about adverse reactions to pharmaceuticals, so Goldacre pours scorn
on independent nutritionists and their lack of scientific understanding,
while discarding reports of conflicts of interest in scientific research.

Goldacre never mentions the studies which conclude that industry-
funded research in many areas is far less likely to come to conclusions
critical of products or therapeutic approaches. The BMJ of
January 16 2007, reports a review that looked at 206 interventional
and observational studies and scientific reviews relating to milk, soft
drinks and juices, published between 1999 and 2003. The study found
that ‘none of the interventional studies supported by industry reached
a conclusion unfavourable to the industry’.95
In reality, Goldacre knows all this. While he might rant about populist
media nutritionists in the Guardian, he is not beyond lending his
name to PR companies to help to sell processed food. One wonders
what fees he received for his appearance in the forums that produced
Obesity 2006 – Strategy, Communication and Implementation, for the
Westminster Diet & Health Forum, one of the PR conglomerates that
live like cockroaches in the outbuildings of the mother of all parliaments?

Obesity 2006 – Strategy, Communication and Implementation,
was published in June 2006. The publication reflects proceedings at
the Westminster Diet & Health Forum Seminar on Obesity 2006.
Initial copies are priced at £85.00 for 112 pages. The seminar and publication
were supported by an educational grant from Sanofi-Aventis,
the global GM and pharmaceutical corporation.

According to the advertisement from the Westminster Diet &
Health Forum, Obesity 2006 – Strategy, Communication and
Implementation aimed to move forward thinking on one of the central
themes in the 2006 policy agenda: communicating the risks to the
most vulnerable groups. Sessions focus on the scale of the problem,
the reality of the risk, approaches to obesity management and the way
forward for public policy. Could it, one asks, have anything to do with
anti-obesity drugs and vaccinations?

Goldacre, gave his ‘evidence’ at the forum, hardly noticeable
among the usual mishmash of commercially-orientated pharma-ceutical
and processed food representatives supported in the main by corporate
funding (Appendix Nine). Oddly he didn’t give his evidence,
as you might imagine, as a doctor who knew something about nutrition
or obesity, but as the Guardian’s ‘Bad Science’ columnist – Could
this again be journalistic quackery?
The ultimate objective of the quackbusting lobby’s strategy on
nutrition is to ensure that personal, alternative, subjectively-reported
or independent nutritional health information that has its origins
beyond the golden circle of professional medicine and industriallyprocessed
food, whether it is right or wrong, microcosmic or macrocosmic,
does not reach the public. All media comments on health,
food and therapies will in the future have to be backed by corporate

Independent suggestions for a healthy lifestyle, whether it be culinary
or medical, will be censored. Not that there is far to go along
these lines. Do we presently get food programmes that talk about lactose
intolerance, or which point out that certain vegetables commonly
have heavy pesticide residues? When did you last see a food programme
that talked about the dangers of sugar or refined carbohydrates
and their role in diabetes?

What gives reality to a massive and connected but hidden network of
lobbyists, is the way in which Goldacre’s stories and his targets were
suddenly replicated on the internet and other media.

Within nine months of Holford’s and Burne’s book coming out,
the internet was crowded with blogs and web sites attacking Holford.
A process of intense propaganda, which had been rejuvenated by Ben
Goldacre, had spread out to utilise the dodgy and mainly anonymous
talents of various ‘science’ propagandists, skeptics, ‘rationalists’,
‘quackbusters’, ‘dieticians’ and bloggers, who argued that food was
food and medicine was medicine, and never the twain should meet.

In the first half of 2007, three apparently-disinterested individuals
set up HolfordWatch, an internet blog site. Only one of these people
gives a name – if, in fact, it is a name and not a pseudonym. The only
added information we know about them are such interesting things as
their favourite films; fascinating! This site and others that attack
Holford can be easily traced through their links pages to the such
doyens of quackbusting as Stephen Barrett and to the US organisa-
tions that are the mainstays of the ‘quackbusting’ industry. Nothing,
however, about vested interests or the rather odd commitment to randomly
attacking honest people such as Holford is disclosed.

The attack on Patrick Holford moved far beyond matters of nutrition
and health. In some of the most blatant propaganda pieces,
Holford became a criminal, a liar, a fraud and even a scientologist.
The most unfounded, unbalanced, libellous, cowardly and untruthful
things are said about him in the full knowledge that to mount a legal
action, by which he could defend his professional identity, would cost
hundreds of thousands of pounds.

Some bloggers stoop so low that one wonders at the intellectual
contortions necessary for them to make their case. Take Damian
Thompson, editor-in-chief of the Catholic Herald, who has a blog in
the Daily Telegraph. On November 5, 2007, seemingly apropos of
absolutely nothing, Thompson, a supporter of the newly-emerged
Holfordwatch site, ran the following:96

Finally, no list of top 20 health gurus would be complete
without Patrick Holford and, sure enough, here he is:

Are men of almost 50 meant to look so youthful and trim?
Holford’s pioneering nutritional theories evidently work
brilliantly for him and beautifully preserved women hang
hungrily on his every word at packed seminars around the
country. A founder of the Institute of Optimum Nutrition,
he has an impressive track record as an early advocate of
Omega-3 oils and antioxidants. [MW: I have no idea
where or who this quote comes from because Thompson
doesn’t reference it.]

Yes, indeed, how does Holford look so young and trim? I
put it down to never having had to go through the stress
of acquiring university qualifications in medicine or nutrition.
And, while we’re on the topic of Holford’s theories,
let’s just remind ourselves of one of them: ‘AZT, the first
prescribable anti-HIV drug, is potentially harmful and
proving less effective than Vitamin C.’ Meaning what?
You’d better not speculate, or you’ll be hearing from
Patrick’s lawyers.

The Telegraph supplies a link to one of Holford’s websites.
Let me suggest an alternative: Holford Watch.

This desire to attack Patrick Holford is apparently insatiable. But can
Thompson claim to be a bona fide quackbuster when he’s obviously a
follower of the Pope, the richest quack in the world? At least the original
sceptics were atheists, eschewing mystical health redemption not
just from homoeopaths but also from the great Quack in the sky. So
where is Thompson coming from? Is he attacking Holford because
Holford is attractive to women? Because he looks young for his age?
Or because he’s a threat to GlaxoSmithKline, the producers of AZT?97

In the last months of 2006 and the first months of 2007, Goldacre
passed the baton to his colleagues and acquaintances eager to make
their small mark in quackbusting circles. During this time, Holford
also travelled to South Africa on a speaking tour. South Africa has
become problematic as far as pharmaceuticals are concerned. The
President of South Africa, Thabo Mbeki, accepted the council of the
AIDS dissident movement not to give his people up to drugs experimentation.
Instead, Mbeki took the informed line that good nutrition,
clean water and hygienic living conditions had to be the first objectives
in any campaign to contain illness. Inevitably, Mbeki has spent
the past seven years of his presidency under siege from multinational
pharmaceutical interests.
When Holford happened to comment before leaving England that
Vitamin C had been shown in vitro to have a more powerful effect on
the human immune-deficiency virus than AZT, Goldacre was evidently
instructed to jump on him from a great height. This was despite the
fact that AZT had become one of the biggest drug failures in modern
history, more capable of replicating the symptoms of AIDS-related illnesses
than curing any known human illness. Perhaps one of the few
products for human consumption the box of which is emblazoned with
the traditional sign for deadly poison: a skull and crossbones.

Goldacre also expressed serious concern that Holford was consorting
with the Rath Foundation, an organisation run by the man
who, following a recent stunning legal victory against the BMJ, has
become the most bitter enemy of the whole medical universe.98

AZT was first manufactured by the Wellcome Foundation, and
when this was taken over first by Glaxo and then by Smith Kline, to
become GlaxoSmithKline, these companies continued its production.
Despite the falling graph of its authorised use in Britain, companies
have continued experimenting with the drug in trials in North America
and Africa. The biggest market for AZT is now Africa, where the drug
companies have frightened governments into buying it in large quantities.

Goldacre lambasts Holford for quoting research carried out in
vitro; in fact he makes such research sound like a school exercise carried
out by someone with no expertise in research. He fails to tell readers
that in vitro research is often the first step in any kind of testing,
or that HIV itself was only apparently found after years researching
cultures in petri dishes. In quoting the research, Holford was simply
pointing out that no advanced research into the therapeutic effects of
vitamin C in relation to AIDS-related illnesses has ever been carried
out with human subjects.

Between 2005 and 2007, Goldacre mentioned Holford and then
Raxit Jariwalla, whose research into vitamin C and HIV Holford
quotes, in six articles.99 Goldacre began his assault on Holford for
quoting Jariwalla’s paper in 2005. In this first Guardian article100
Goldacre steers clear of any criticism of Jariwalla, deciding instead to
criticise Holford for misinterpreting Jariwalla’s science. By 2007,
however, Goldacre, having grasped the instructions of his master’s
voice, now makes Jariwalla out to be some kind of ignoramus.101 He
ends this article by calling Holford a fool, or worse: ‘So Jariwalla I
have no opinion on, his paper is just a paper, and Holford is a fool or
worse. Or am I wrong?’

As if Goldacre’s biased and nons(ci)ence articles in the Guardian
were not enough, someone alerted the press in South Africa to the
story, and scathing newspaper articles followed Holford around on his
workshop tour.

On March 22, 2007, another British quackbuster and lecturer at
University College London, wrote an, undisciplined and unscientific
article in Nature, said by the cognoscente to be the world’s most prestigious
science mag.102

Professor Colquhoun FRS (see above) presently heads the UCL
pharmacology department. He has been a research fellow since
October 2004, having previously been the chair of pharmacology at
UCL. Colquhoun’s web site invite you to click into the web ring for a
famous US anti-quackery web sites. He also runs stories about quackery.

These are strong texts against homoeopathy and herbalism and
any other form of alternative therapy. They contain not a scintilla of
science. He also runs, from his university department, his own ‘DC’s
IMPROBABLE SCIENCE’ web page, which he described as being:

Devoted to giving publicity to assorted dubious, erroneous,
nutty, or downright fraudulent claims about
drugs103 and other sorts of treatment. It includes, but is
not restricted to, so-called Complementary and
Alternative Medicine (acronym, SCAM). In particular, it is
about the incursion of such ideas into universities.

These pages were originally vast and covered all contemporary news
items relating to ‘quackery’ (Appendix Four). How Colquhoun found
the time to service this web site, science only knows. Did he do it on
his university salary in university time?

In his Nature article of March 2007, Colquhoun added his own
gobbledegook to the attack on Holford.104 Colquhoun writes about university
courses in alternative medicine being unworthy of a BSc
because they do not deal with science.

In the most ignorant passage about nutritional therapy, Colquhoun
addresses the subject as if the effect of food on the human organism is
no more a matter for science than is witchcraft. In so doing, he simply
exposes his own fragile and intellectually limited knowledge of biology,
anatomy, chemistry and many other aspects of life science. To
call the study of nutrition anti-science is to display the most amazing
and facile ignorance. Where, one wonders, would Colquhoun place
the mainstream nutritional scientists who since the 1920s have been
leading us to an understanding of how the human body utilises all the
major food groups, vitamins and minerals?

Colquhoun is a pharmacologist and we have to assume that once
in a while he wonders about the effects of chemical and biological
drugs on the human body – but then, perhaps not. It might be such a
research blind spot among pharmacologists, that leaves us with so
many bad drugs and vaccines, which create deadly adverse reactions.

While doodling his eccentric thoughts about nutritional therapies,
he can’t help but make a few base comments about Patrick Holford.
‘The British nutritionist’, he writes, ‘Patrick Holford, infamously recommends
vitamin C as a remedy for HIV and AIDS.’ What is
Colquhoun’s reference for this assertion? None other than Ben
Goldacre, the great expert on nutrition, journalism and Patrick

Colquhoun ends his sixth-form piece with the most unbelievable
statement about academic independence: ‘After the foundation of the
University of London in 1826, universities became places where people
sought, as best they could, to discover the truth. They became
places you could turn to for independent thought and opinions, undistorted
by financial interests. The best still are, but that independence
of thought has never been more at risk … [from] … corporatisation’.

It does seem a shame that some scientists don’t get a more rounded
education, perhaps even a smattering of history or politics might on
occasions come in handy. I wonder who Colquhoun imagines funded
the education system for the new bourgeoisie in the early 19th century?
Could it possibly have been the ascending industrial class? Here’s
an essay title for you David, ‘In what sense could the new industrial
funders of University education at the start of the 19th century be
described as independent seekers after truth?’ A subsidiary question
might be, ‘What is truth?’ To which you would no doubt answer, in
one word … ‘science’.
On another argument entirely might it be possible that Colquhoun
has been fast asleep since 1979 and the accession of the Thatcher government,
which set about privatising almost everything. Most sociologists
and political commentators deduce that it was this government,
armed with the laisse faire economic policies of Milton Freidman, that
introduced privatisation to great swaths of what had previously been
public Britain. It was this privatisation that led further to the corporatisation
of public education. But then again, how can you argue with
a man who runs a university research department even minimally subsidised
by pharmaceutical companies but complains about corporatisation?
What’s more, Colquhoun seems to be using the word corporatisation
to refer to producers and promoters of alternative and nutritional
therapies. Weird and Orwellian or what?

Colquhoun’s article shows yet again that scientists are like footballers:
on occasion, they can talk a quite sensible game, but it can be
painful listening to them talk about anything else. Scientists associated
with quackbusting seem blissfully unaware that it is their utter
ignorance of society, people, politics, culture and human emotions,
which calls down such reprehension on them from observers of their

Inevitably, when Holford contacted Nature, to ask for a right of
reply, he was refused (Appendix Ten). The article wasn’t the last that
Holford heard of Colquhoun. Surfing his web site a few weeks later,
he noticed that Colquhoun had coined the name Pilltrick Holfraud.
David Colquhoun seems to be a man who regardless of a fine sense of
humour, finds it hard to learn from experience, and it took advice from
Holford’s lawyer to persuade him to take down this obvious libel.

In June 2007, Goldacre offered his condolences to Colquhoun,
whom, in a Guardian article entitled ‘The Mighty David
Colquhoun’,106 he described as ‘one of the most eminent scientists in
the UK’. Colquohoun had had his web site toys threatened by the university
provost, after the university had been inundated with offers of
libel actions and a high number of complaints from practitioners and
supporters of complementary and alternative medicine.

Goldacre and his friends were up in arms. Fists raised, they ran to
the barricades and shouted slogans about academic freedom. After
they had finished protesting and quaffed a couple of pints, they got
together again in the evening to figure out the next step in shutting
down the Royal London Homoeopathic Hospital.

The fact that Goldacre’s campaign on behalf of the drug companies
against Patrick Holford is failing, can be judged by the fact that, in the
autumn of 2007, one of the most deeply-embedded supporters of The
Lobby, who has weathered countless storms and wind changes over
20 years, came back on stage. Patrick Holford found that quackbuster

Dr Charles Shepherd was sniffing around the north of England university
where Holford is a visiting Professor.

It has always been my feeling that it is reassuring when the other
side shows its true colours. I was, for example, overjoyed when the
late Sir Richard Doll and then Professor Simon Wessely, after years of
claiming they were unaffected by any conflict of interests, joined the
American Council for Science and Health, the ultimate refuge of those
whose lives are in tune with the most powerful chemical, pharmaceutical
and processed food corporations.

The reappearance of Dr Charles Shepherd in the battle against
Patrick Holford, vitamins and food supplements107 clears up any doubt
we might have had about the nature of the attacks begun in the
Guardian by Ben Goldacre and continued by Colquhoun. Shepherd
was, with Simon Wessely, one of the founder members of the
Campaign Against Health Fraud in the late 1980s. At that time,
although he was also concerned with defending the psychiatric model
of ME, he took time out to work with Duncan Campbell in attacking
nutritional doctors of the high calibre of Dr Stephen Davies and Dr
Damien Downing.

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, Shepherd was a clinical advisor
to the Media Resources Service (MRS), run from the CIBA
Foundation.108 The drug company Ciba Geigy became Novartis in
1996, when it merged with Sandoz. The MRS was a clear precursor to
the Science Media Centre; its objective was to put journalists in touch
with corporate scientists so that they ‘got the story right’.

At the height of his absurdities, Dr Shepherd was responsible for
writing one of the most bizarre, alarmist anti-vitamin articles in the
history of British anti-quackery. I wrote about it in Dirty Medicine:109

The January 18 1991 issue of GP carried an article by Dr
Charles Shepherd, a long-standing member of the CAHF
and a clinical advisor to the Media Resources Service of
the CIBA Foundation. Under the title ‘”Natural Health”
pills can be lethal’, a centre column sub-heading reads
‘many of the remedies can have bizarre and disturbing
toxic effects’. The article is one of the most climactic antivitamin
articles ever published; a kind of ‘vita-disaster’

After pointing out that ‘nutritional supplements’ are actually drugs
disguised to avoid the costly regulation that affects all proper medicines,
Shepherd goes on to list the baroque adverse reactions of everything
vaguely alternative.

Far from being natural and safe, remedies sold in health
food shops can have disturbing toxic effects.
Aromatherapy can result in allergic reactions and burns to
the skin. Selenium is toxic and excess zinc can depress
the immune system. Excessive intake of both fat- and
water-soluble vitamins can result in severe toxic effects.
Vitamin A accumulates to cause encephalopathy (swelling
of the brain). Vitamin B3 can produce severe hepatoxici-
ty (poisoning of the liver). Vitamin B6 causes peripheral
neuritis (inflammation of the nerve endings) at daily
doses above 200mg: and vitamin C is known to increase
the bioavailability of oestrogen, so converting a low-dose
contraceptive pill into a high-dose one.

Thank God for science! I notice that Shepherd doesn’t have much
faith in his fellow doctors, feeling the need to explain to them quite
elementary and self-explanatory medical terms in brackets. Perhaps
he knows something about a doctor’s education that we don’t!

Throughout the 1990s, Shepherd was firmly embedded in the ME
‘community’, where he steered the ME Association. Throughout the
decade, he has taken time out to mount critical attacks against those
who have campaigned for recognition of an organic aetiology of ME
and like illnesses. The strategies he has used in undermining and trying
to destroy the professional reputation of a number of activists have
been similar.

In attacks on individuals associated with universities, he has carried
on long mischievous correspondence with the administration, trying
to prove unprofessional behaviour and calling for the sacking of
the person concerned. He has, as they say, more front than Blackpool,
and he hasn’t shrunk from the most subversive attacks on such highly-
reputable academics as Malcolm Hooper, the Emeritus Professor of
Medicinal Chemistry at the University of Sunderland. Hooper has
worked ceaselessly on behalf of both ME sufferers and the victims of
Gulf War Syndrome, trying to overturn the myth propagated by chemical
and pharmaceutical companies, that those who have suffered from
these illnesses are mentally ill.110

Shepherd’s campaigning throughout the 1990s, reached their pinnacle
with fetid attacks on the One Click Campaigner Jane Bryant,
‘the last person standing’ and the only substantial and principled
resistance to ME arm of The Lobby.111 Jane Bryant and her then campaign
partner Angela Kennedy, were hounded by Shepherd, who
wanted to see Bryant sent to prison and Kennedy sacked from her
employment with the Open University – Oh! I almost forgot, he wanted
the ME-suffering children of both women taken from them.
Shepherd’s assault on One Click peaked with a foaming-mouthed
personal harangue of Jane Bryant at a House of Lords reception that
Bryant attended with her son Ben. At the time, Bryant wrote the following
account, which went up on the One Click site.

I was standing with my son, carrying out a conversation
with two of Ben’s teachers from a long-distance e-learning
company. Dr. Charles Shepherd literally barged into
our group and, with absolutely no provocation whatsoever,
began to attack me and verbally abuse me. With his
gaze fixed at some point just above my left shoulder, the
flecks of spittle nesting in the corners of his mouth flew
out as he ranted. I was so shocked. I turned my head to
call for the House of Lords security. At which point
Shepherd fled the room. The woman teacher turned and
put her arm around me. ‘Are you all right?’ she asked. The
man looked after Dr Shepherd retreating into the distance.
‘Is this man crazy?’ he asked. My son Ben, ME/CFS
patient age 13, stood completely still, chalk white.

Shepherd is presently medical advisor to, and a trustee of the moribund
ME Association.

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