Adapted from BMJ 26 March 2022.
Dr Malcolm Kendrick who is a GP, and Zoe Harcombe who is a PhD researcher, have raised a court action against the Mail on Sunday, because they think that their reputations have been damaged by being called “statin deniers whose deadly propaganda has endangered lives.” Their influence was described as “being worse than the MMR scare.”
Mr Justice Nicklin describes the case as a most significant piece of defamation litigation. The claimants assert that they have been accused of putting many thousands if not millions of people at a greater risk of a deadly or debilitating heart attack or stroke by misleading them into the false belief that statins do not work and/or have debilitating side effects.
Both Malcolm and Zoe write blog articles, have given lectures and written books. Malcolm writes, “Readers will know there is not one cause of heart disease. Equally, you are not going to protect yourself against heart disease doing one thing. You need to do many.”
Associated Newspapers who own the Mail on Sunday, say that their articles are substantially true, express an honest opinion and also say that they are protected by qualified privilege or by the defence of publication on a matter of public interest.
My comment: I was most concerned when I read about this case. There is a lot of controversy over the use of statins and the public should be able to hear both positive and negative information on health matters, so as to help them make up their own minds, or to stimulate further personal research. Dr Kendrick and Zoe Harcombe are both highly intelligent, well informed and well meaning people. They both support low- carbing for health care, and we have corresponded and met up personally and online at discussions and conferences of common interest. I am concerned that there is financial resource asymmetry here and that this case will be potentially ruinous for them. I await the court’s findings with interest and trepidation.