From: Wessely, Simon
Sent: 04 December 2012 17:23
To: MAR, Countess
Subject: your letter
Dear Lady Mar
I received your letter.
You state that ” I note from recent correspondence arising from the report in the Independent on Sunday on 25 November 2012, that you believe me as guilty of harassing you”.
You are referring to the letter published in the Independent on Sunday on Dec 2nd from 25 leading clinicians and academics that was a response to the article of 25th November. I am not an author of that letter, and did not have sight of it before it was sent. I am however informed today by one of the authors that the letter published in the newspaper was not the same as the letter submitted, and that some editorial changes were made. I can see that you might make the inference that you do from the published version, but I am told that was not in the original. I understand that a correction may be requested. It is anyway a little harsh to blame me for a letter that I neither saw nor signed.
I think we will have to differ on our recollections of our lunch engagement over ten years ago. What I am certain about however is that I have never written to you at your home address, and never called you on the telephone. I have no idea where you live, and no record of your phone number. I do however have the letter that I did write to you before the meeting, which are addressed to the House of Lords. If you are interested I am happy to forward a copy, but I think that anyone reading it would conclude that it was written in a polite and respectful manner. If it was otherwise, I doubt that you would have agreed to meet me. I am afraid that I have not the slightest memory of what we ate or drank, nor who picked up the bill – oddily enough I usually have the reputation of being a rather generous host, but if my manners failed me back then, then I apologise.
If we are going over history, then I wonder what you now think of your speeches in the Upper House reported in Hansard 16 April 2002, and 22 Jan 2004. I attach the transcripts to refresh your memory. By now I hope you realize that you were seriously misquoting and misrepresenting me, although I suspect this was on the basis of inaccurate material provided to you by a third party, and that you would not have access to the relevant sources to be able to check for yourself. If you are still in doubt, then you will find many of these highlighted in a statement on my website in which I point out just some of the significant distortions and misrepresentations in the material you were supplied with.
Some of your language about me in that debate was also distinctly unparliamentary, and again I suspect was not your voice. 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” . I wonder if you in turn regret some of what you said that day, looking back in time as we are.
Professor Simon Wessely
Professor Simon Wessely
Vice Dean, Institute of Psychiatry
Head, Department of Psychological Medicine
Director, King’s Centre for Military Health Research
King’s College London
From: MAR, Countess
Sent: 05 December 2012 18:40
To: 'Wessely, Simon'
Subject: RE: your letter
Dear Professor Wessely
Thank you for replying to my letter of 4 December 2012.
I found your response unsatisfactory in that you chose not to answer my questions and instead made derogatory comments about me, about which I will simply say that I am sorry your long-term memory is so selective. However, I can tell you that regarding the letter in the Independent on Sunday signed by 27 of your colleagues, I have received a very gracious apology from Professor White for any inference that may be drawn from it, which I have accepted.
I have no wish to enter into an unproductive and personalised correspondence with you because the issue of how people with ME are treated is far too important to be side-tracked by such diversions.
Instead I will ask you again: the data from the FINE and PACE trials strongly suggest that the psychosocial model of ME/CFS, which you first proposed, is wrong. These were large trials involving several hundred people and which cost the UK taxpayer several million pounds.
In the light of these results, do you still believe that ME/CFS is “perpetuated predominantly by dysfunctional beliefs and coping behaviours”?
If not, do you not have a duty to say this clearly, in plain language, so that other, more productive lines of research can be pursued?
When data suggest a model is wrong it must either be amended or discarded and the data is clear, so what is your intention? The harm that may result from pursuing wrong ideas in medicine cannot be overstated.
In your reply you ask if I regret some of the things I said about you. I have seen and heard nothing that alters what I said in my speech of 16 April 2002 and anything I might have said on the subject subsequently.
What I said does not hold a candle to the scorn and derision that you have poured on people with ME and on the doctors who do not subscribe to the psychosocial model.
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:
The 2004 debate is at:
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."