Bringing in the quacks.

 

In this latest correspondence with the Countess of Mar, Professor Wessely raises the issue of libel: "I note that Lord Addington speaking after you remarked that that the debate “would make libel lawyers feel like dieters looking in a cake shop window” ."

 

My recollection is that the Countess's remarks were repeated on the BMJ website - and then hastily removed. Apparently she was protected by Lords' privilege, but anyone repeated her words outside Parliament would not be immune from a libel suit.

 

The Hansard record of the 2002 debate is still available at:

http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld200102/ldhansrd/vo020416/text/20416-19.htm#20416-19_head0

 

The 2004 debate is at:

http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld200304/ldhansrd/vo040122/text/40122-12.htm#40122-12_head0

 

Lord Addington was in no way supportive of Professor Wessely:

 

22 Jan 2004 : Column 1190

 

"Lord Addington: My Lords, one thing is clear: the noble Countess's historical basis for complaint is solid. There is a tremendous tradition, when we do not know the medical or physical causes of something, of bringing in the quacks, to put it bluntly. That has happened on numerous occasions."

 

"I shall give the House an example to add to the one that the noble Countess gave. Dyslexia is the one that I know most about. I can remember being told in the mid-1970s that my inability to read and write at the same rate as others was due to the fact that I came from a single-parent family. There are others examples, so I suggest that we take a sceptical look at things. With regard to the noble Countess's speech, I suspect that there are many libel lawyers who, on hearing our debate, will react in the same way as someone on a diet looking at a cake shop window. It is a lovely feast that they cannot get at."