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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 @ yahoo.co.uk
(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 http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/series/dr-crippen 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. http://www.meactionuk.org.uk
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 http://www.nhsblogdoc.blogspot.com/  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 @ yahoo.co.uk
(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 @ yahoo.co.uk
(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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