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Letter to the Guardian Re: Dr. Crippen

Posted Feb 09 2010 2:01am
Anyone wishing to support this letter - please send your names and locations to al_barclayuk @
(remember to remove the spaces either side of the @ that prevents spammers from harvesting e-mail addresses.)
At this time we are not setting a closing date for the receipt of names so if you see this letter and you support it then please do send in your name and location.
Thank you and thanks also to everyone who has helped make this letter possible and to Annette for your help collection names.

Stephen E. Ralph DCR(D) Retired
South Ayrshire, Scotland.
Professor Malcolm Hooper Ph.D.,B.Pharm.,C.Chem.,MRIC
Sunderland, England.
8th February 2010
Dear Mr Rusbridger,
We are writing to draw your attention to an issue that is causing a great deal of distress and anger to a population of sick and disabled people – presently an easy target for those who carry a prejudice against disabled people.
In recent months you have had a column on your website that goes under the title “Dr Crippen”.
We understand that this “Dr Crippen” column is penned by an NHS doctor who uses “Dr Crippen” to both keep his anonymity, and also to give an airing to views that he knows will be insulting or hurtful to those whom he chooses to victimise.
For the last 10 years, one of us has run an Internet discussion group called MEActionUK, to raise awareness and keep members up-to-date with the news, politics and scientific research surrounding Myalgic Encephalomyelitis.
We were recently alerted to your “Dr Crippen” column as he has yet again used his space on your website to denigrate the ME community for the purposes of his own entertainment and presumably his presumption that his comments will also entertain your readers.
We are aware that you hold the true identity of “Dr Crippen”. However, we the public can see that this deliberate false identity has been established so that this doctor can given out subjective, misleading or even wholly false information about anything he chooses, in this case myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME), without any recourse should that information be demonstrably factually inaccurate.
We would like to know why the readers of the Guardian do not have the right to know who this doctor is who hides behind the title of “Dr Crippen”.
Initially, you may argue that he should keep his anonymity. However, he is a registered and practicing NHS doctor speaking via your newspaper, giving your readers his “wisdom”. So, the answer is actually, yes – the identity should be known, because this doctor is paid out of the public purse from us, as taxpayers, and he may well carry his views into his consulting room and for all we know he could be denigrating or mistreating his own patients based on the bigotry displayed on the “Dr Crippen” page.
It is apparent from “Dr Crippen’s” own description of himself here  that he in no way has a medical speciality such as a virologist or immunologist would have for example, and therefore “Dr Crippen” does not have the necessary qualifications to comment on subjects outwith his area of expertise."
The doctor himself is responsible for the content of his column, and we believe that, certainly in relation to his repeated derogatory comments on ME, he is breaking the General Medical Council's code.
Source: Good Medical Practice: Duties of a doctor.
The duties of a doctor registered with the General Medical Council.
'Never discriminate unfairly against patients or colleagues.'
'Keep your professional knowledge and skills up to date.'
'Protect and promote the health of patients and the public.'
'Treat patients politely and considerately.'
'Never abuse your patients' trust in you or the public's trust in the profession.'
'Work in partnership with patients.'
From his comments on ME, "Dr Crippen" can clearly be seen to be in breach of these GMC "Duties of a Doctor", most seriously failing to keep his professional knowledge and skills up to date. It would be honourable and presumably a legal requirement, for the Guardian to now provide to interested parties his true identity, thus allowing these parties to discuss this behaviour with the GMC.
If the Guardian refuses to reveal who “Dr Crippen” is, it sets a precedent allowing doctors to pontificate on serious diseases for which they have little knowledge and no authority - possibly misleading the public about such serious diseases, which in turn can be dangerous and risk damage to patient’s lives.
At present myalgic encephalomyelitis is the subject of a global investigation in connection with a recently discovered retro-virus entitled Xenotropic Murine Leukaemia virus related Virus (XMRV) that has also been linked to Prostate Cancer. It is interesting to note that your correspondent Sarah Boseley never bothered or perhaps was not permitted, to report the initial discovery of XMRV associated with ME and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome - which was published in the highly regarded journal “Science” back in October 2009. This study by Lombardi et al took two and a half years to carry out its work. Three centres of excellence were used to compile and verify the results.
The Independent carried this story as a front page splash along with an editorial, but the Guardian was totally silent aside from yet another attack on the ME community from “Dr Crippen”: -
“The militant wing of the Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME) brigade broke out the champagne when a recent article in Science reported that a retrovirus had been found in 67% of ME patients compared to under 4% of the general population. Sadly, the study only involved just over 100 patients and is thus inconclusive."
Nearly every other serious newspaper both here in the UK and over in the USA, including the New York Times and the Washington Post, carried this news in great detail and they are still doing so. However, your journalist Ms Boseley, was, on the face of it more than happy to ignore the “Science” paper, and instead waited several months to then write a detailed piece highlighting another study, which had been carried out in just a matter of a few weeks here in the UK at Imperial College.
It is also interesting to note that The Guardian's most prominent science writer is Ben Goldacre, of the Institute of Psychiatry and his Ph.D supervisor is the liaison psychiatrist Professor Simon Wessely, who was one of the authors of the Imperial College/“PloS ONE” XMRV study.
Professor Wessely supplied the patients tested; a fact which was prominently featured by the Guardian in January. Professor Wessely is an adviser to the Science Media Centre, which briefed the Press that the Science study published last October merely "purported to show a link between chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) and a particular virus."
One senses that the Guardian has, at worst a rather nasty agenda going on, or has perhaps been influenced adversely by some of its many “professionally connected” contributors;
It appears that on more than one level, concerted attempts have been made on the one hand to both ridicule and bait a specific patient population behind a wholly unprofessional pseudonym and on the other hand to ensure that good and well conducted peer reviewed research is given no attention by your newspaper, whilst poorly conducted research falsely claimed to be "replication research" receives generous yet unbalanced and inaccurate publicity thanks to the journalists who work for your newspaper and who may also have conflicts of interest by association.
Professor Malcolm Hooper, myself, and all those supporting this letter via the attached sheets and via my Yahoogroups and Facebook websites, would be very grateful if you could investigate these matters immediately. We would like a full explanation as to why your newspaper is conducting an agenda of misrepresentation, inaccurate, skewed reporting and the denigration of a minority of sick and disabled patients who, after all, have done nothing wrong. It is not the fault of patients for having the diagnosis of myalgic encephalomyelitis or chronic fatigue syndrome handed to them by the medical profession and patients do not deserve to be lampooned as a consequence.
If nothing else we would like to be told the name of the doctor who hides behind the name “Dr Crippen”, so that this can be taken up with the General Medical Council.
As far as the ME patient community is concerned - Enough is enough.

Yours sincerely,

Anyone wishing to support this letter - please send your names and locations to al_barclayuk @
(remember to remove the spaces either side of the @ that prevents spammers from harvesting e-mail addresses)
There will be no closing date so that anyone seeing this letter can add their names and locations whenever they see it.
Thank you and thank you also to everyone who has helped make this letter possible and to Annette for your help collection names.
People supporting this letter so far:-

Stephen Cox Cardiff
Rosie Cox Cardiff
Dr Andrew Isaac  South Wales GMC number 6144320 MB Bch

Jill Cooper Rugby

Patrick Sweeny Stockport

Trevor Wainwright Castleford

Derek Peters Northern Ireland Director N.I campaign for M.E.

Jenny Wilson Swansea

Yvonne Foss Caterham, Surrey

Sheila Campbell Scottish borders

James Campbell Scottish borders

Keith Riley East Sussex

Antoinette Christie Belfast

Paul Christie Belfast

Jeanette Marley Belfast

Irene Thorpe Kimberworth

Veronica Jones Coleford, Gloucestershire 

Dewi Bermingham Chester

Lyn Swann Leicestershire

Joan Crawford  Chester Chair, Chester MESH

Denise Longman Suffolk MSc

A Walsh Wales

John Walsh Wales

Iain Lee Fife, Scotland

Janis Thomson York

Anne Gill Nottingham

Ian Barr Moreton, Wallasey

Josephine Freeman Northamptom

Jane Giakoumakis Lanarkshire, Scotland

Owen Beith London E2

Paul Murray London NW1

Mr.G.J.Lennon  Essex

Joanne Drayson Surrey

Pauline Sykes Dyfed

Di Newman Peterborough

Laurence Swift Kent

Yvonne Leach Rochdale

Sue Howley London

Paul Winter Hailsham, East Sussex

Sheila Barry North Yorkshire 

Jay Blackburn Cumbria

Conor Christie  Belfast

David Christie  Belfast

Derek Benyon Leistershire

Claire Sweeny  Stockport

Sandra Marley Belfast

Joseph Marley Belfast

Elizabeth Moss Stockport

Mary Marley  Belfast

Sean Marley  Belfast

Geraldine  Cardwell Stockport

Annette Barclay London

Helen Baker-Falkner SW London

Claire Hutton Surrey

Linda Webb Teddington

Gillian Smith Dundae

Mark Smith Dundae

Chris Evans UK

Annette Wilford UK

Emily Richards Poole, Dorset

Magaret Shuttleworth North West England

Kevin Waterson UK

Laura Jones Swansea

Mary M. Schweitzer Newark, Delaware, USA PHD

Michael Green Devon

Jill Pigott Worcester

Jim McManus Gloucestershire

Ingrid Rastall-Awan Cambridge

Dr Aftab R. Awan Cambridge

Amy Hanson Winchester, Hampshire

Carol Carroll Worcestershire

Kevin Carroll Worcestershire

Steven Carroll Worcestershire

Robert Messenger Camarthan

Menna Messenger Camarthan

Jackie Fowler Worcester

Miss Janet Laverick Redcar, Cleveland

Peter Kemp Teddington MA

Rachael Drinkall Coalville

Paul Harris Fife, Scotland

Jennifer Wilson Feniton, Devon

Susan Hogben Weymouth, Dosert

Denise Bell Wirral

Jayne Hamilton Chester

Caroline Harrold Selston, Nottinghamshire

Trevor Drewery Peterborough

Denise Copley UK

Stephen Hallam East Midlands

Mr M  Hartley Bournemouth

Adam West Sheffield

Kate Phimister Exeter

Gabi Lewis Worthing,  West Sussex

Annabel Schleutker Nuneaton

Robert Courtney Brighton

Kathleen Bake,  Newton Aycliffe, Co Durham

Gary Farrington,  Newton Aycliffe, Co Durham

Jonathan Farrington,  Newton Aycliffe, Co Durham

Sheila Bake,  Bishop Auckland, Co Durham.

Yvonne Brannan Isle of Wight

Ed Cross Bath

David Loomes Bromley, Kent

Annabel Luery Nottingham

Ross Martin  Nottingham

Viv Pain Southwell

M. Mooney Exmouth, Devon

Barbara Turner Cheshire

Geoff Turner Cheshire

Lynn Ingram East Midlands, Leicester shire 

Clive Powney Coventry

Belinda McCameron Cornwall

Janice Storey Sunderland

Kate Bazeley Cornwall

Dr. G. Cross Northern Ireland

Lisa Turner Rome

Sofia Benvenuto Rome

Mauro Notarantonio Rome

Sylvia Cross Northern Ireland

Jon Vali Stockport

Jonathan Cross Ireland

Susan Cross Ireland

Alison Dale Australia

Marie Denby Scotland

Joe Denby  Scotland

Rita Turner Cheshire

Chas Turner Cheshire

Shirley Bancroft Cheshire

Derek Cross Lancashire

Eileen Cross Lancashire

Rosi Burns Hampshire

Kate Bazeley Cornwall

Wendy V Staffordshire

Sarah Nichols Isleworth

Laura Judd Ely, Cambridgeshire

Lesley Judd Ely, Cambridgeshire

Stephen Hyde Portsmouth

Caroline Walker Aberdeen

Janet Harris Surrey

Doris Jones Ilford, Essex

Mr William Davies Greater Manchester

Cherryl Benyon Leicestershire

Emily Russ UK

Miss Sheryl Nairn Twickenham, Middlesex

Alexandra Guimaraes Portugal, Funchal

Suzannah Brett Stowmarket, Suffolk

Jos van Leeuwen Portugal, Funchal

Margaret Rumney Hexham, Northumberland

Kay Cameron Edinburgh

Valerie Woodley Edinburgh

David Lee Shropshire

Andrew Lee Kirkcaldy

Elspeth Lee  Kirkcaldy

Andrew Gardner Dalgety Bay

Robert Sclater  Rosyth

J. McKinley  Greenock

Jenny Gilbert Worthing,  West Sussex

Nicola K. Reiss Qawra, Malta

Alan Jervis Kingston Upon Thames

Cheri Martin Mansfield, Nottingham

Criona Wilson Brighton

Sue Waddle Portsmouth

E. L Brennan Pennsylvania, USA

Susan Jones Chester BA
Stephen McLaughlin Chester BA Msc
Malcolm Evison Harrogate

Alice Browne Brooklyn, NY, USA

Penny Green Brooklyn, NY, USA

Sue Norton Leicester

Vicky Gifford Hertfordshire 

Douglas Fraser London

Dr. Christopher Heppner Victoria, BC, Canada

Tom McGlynn Tasmania, Australia

Tracy Eckersley Worsley, Manchester

Dave Holt Nottingham

Bettine Molenberg Holland

Roy Mitchell  Bath

Duncan Cox Rugby, Warwickshire

Lesley Cox Rugby, Warwickshire

Eileen Deane, The Scottish Borders

Michael Livesey Gosport, Hampshire

Jane Clout Brighton and Hove

Colin Wainwright Gateshead Newcastle upon Tyne
Louise Howard Gateshead Newcastle upon Tyne
Theresa Roberts Rugby

Andrea Pring Devon

Patricia Campbell Near Coventry

Robin Sansom Norfolk

Ms Catherine Foxwell Bath

Jane Hurst Poringland, Norwich
* ******* London (Editor, please note name and location not for publication)
Mrs Jo Calder  Belfast
Jeanie Moir Southampton, Hampshire
Angela Campbell Dorchester
Mary Glen Dorchester
Giles Glen Dorchester
Daniel Kenny UK
Viv Bethell Leamington Spa 
Lynda Lambert Deeside , North Wales
Ms. Helle Rasmussen Odense, Denmark 
Garry Jones Neath
Denise Benson Stourbridge
This list will be updated as more people offer their support.
Anyone wishing to support this letter - please send your names and locations to al_barclayuk @
(remember to remove the spaces either side of the @ that prevents spammers from harvesting e-mail addresses.)
At this time we are not setting a closing date for the receipt of names so if you see this letter
and you support it then please do send in your name and location.
Thank you and thanks also to everyone who has helped make this letter possible and to Annette for your help collection names.

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