In the current issue of the Faculty of Homeopathy‘s Simile publication, Dr Peter Fisher, the Queen’s homeopath, re-visits the old story of the ‘Smallwood Report’. To my big surprise, I found the following two paragraphs in his editorial:

A prepublication draft [of the Smallwood report] was circulated for comment with prominent warnings that it was confidential and not to be shared more widely (I can personally vouch for this, since I was one of those asked to comment). Regrettably, Prof Ernst did precisely this, leaking it to The Times who used it as the basis of their lead story. The editor of The Lancet, Richard Horton, certainly no friend of homeopathy, promptly denounced Ernst for having “broken every professional code of scientific behaviour”.

Sir Michael Peat, the Prince of Wales’ Principal Private Secretary, wrote to the vice chancellor of Exeter University protesting at the leak, and the university conducted an investigation. Ernst’s position became untenable, funding for his department dried up and he took early retirement. Thirteen years later he remains sore; in his latest book More Harm than Good? he attacks the Prince of Wales as “foolish and immoral”.


Sadly it is true that Horton wrote these defaming words. Subsequently, I asked him to justify them explaining that they were being used by my university against me. He ignored several of my emails, but eventually he sent a reply. In it, he said that, since the university was investigating the issue, the truth would doubtlessly be disclosed. I remember that I was livid at the arrogance and ignorance of this reply. However, being in the middle of my university’s investigation against me, never did anything about it. Looking back at this part of the episode, I feel that Horton behaved abominably.

But back to Dr Fisher.

Why did his defamatory and false accusation in his new editorial come as a ‘big surprise’ to me?

Should I not have gotten used to the often odd way in which some homeopaths handle the truth?

Yes, I did get used to this phenomenon; but I am nevertheless surprised because I have tried to correct Fisher’s ‘error’ before.

This is from a post about Fisher which I published in 2015:

In this article [available here in archive,org – Admin] which he published as Dr. Peter Fisher, Homeopath to Her Majesty, the Queen, he wrote: There is a serious threat to the future of the Royal London Homoeopathic Hospital (RLHH), and we need your help…Lurking behind all this is an orchestrated campaign, including the ’13 doctors letter’, the front page lead in The Times of 23 May 2006, Ernst’s leak of the Smallwood report (also front page lead in The Times, August 2005), and the deeply flawed, but much publicised Lancet meta-analysis of Shang et al…

If you have read my memoir, you will know that even the hostile 13-months investigation my own university did not find me guilty of the ‘leak’. The Times journalist who interviewed me about the Smallwood report already had the document on his desk when we spoke, and I did not disclose any contents of the report to him…


So, assuming that Dr Peter Fisher has seen my 2015 post, he is knowingly perpetuating a slanderous untruth. However, giving him the benefit of the doubt, he might not have read the post nor my memoir and could be unaware of the truth. Error or lie? I am determined to find out and will send him today’s post with an offer to clarify the situation.

I will keep you posted.

31 Responses to Is the Queen’s homeopath, Dr Peter Fisher, erring or lying?

  • I have never understood was was so reprehensible about ‘leaking’ the Smallwood report (by whomsoever leaked it – and it was not Ernst). Surely it was going to be published shortly?
    What harm was done – apart from giving advance notice of its contents to some folk (including Ernst who had been a contributor).
    Certainly not ‘scientific misconduct’, as Dr Horton alleged – the report itself was not ‘scientific’.

    Some folk might well regard the Prince of Wales ‘foolish’ – but he has been elected a Fellow of the Royal Society !
    Some folk might well regard him as ‘immoral’.

    Include me in that latter assessment, for he refuses to engage in any serious debate about homeopathic preparations, declines to provide the evidence and principles on which he bases his belief that such preparations provide any benefit whatsoever, and endorses proposals to spend scarce resources on ‘integrating’ such products into the NHS.

    He is entitled to use homeopathic preparations if he wishes. His private avocation should remain private.
    I hope he does gain benefit from the engagement he has had, perhaps has, with empathic practitioners (no doubt he needs TLC) – but he should not assist the commercial marketing of the sales of homeopathic preparations – which he does by according Ainsworth’s a Royal Warrant and by conducting visits to Nelson’s factory.
    IMHO, that endorsement meets the criterion of being ‘immoral’ (unethical; unprincipled).

    Does Dr Fisher agree, or is his moral compass set differently?

    • Richard Rawlins wrote: “Some folk might well regard the Prince of Wales ‘foolish’…Some folk might well regard him as ‘immoral’…he should not assist the commercial marketing of the sales of homeopathic preparations – which he does by according Ainsworth’s a Royal Warrant and by conducting visits to Nelson’s factory. IMHO, that endorsement meets the criterion of being ‘immoral’ (unethical; unprincipled). Does Dr Fisher agree, or is his moral compass set differently?”

      It does seem that the integrity of some of the Prince of Wales’s healthcare friends is highly questionable. For example, his CAM-fan chum, Dr Michael Dixon, is on record with the following:

      “if you are going to win the game, you have to not always play be the rules of other people. We are going to have to invent our own set of rules”

      See page 5 here:

    • Apologies for a missing word. Should be:
      “I have never understood what was was so reprehensible about ‘leaking’ the Smallwood report.”

  • Im bemuse that Mrs Windsor as “head of state” or her buffoon son, heir apparent to the family business has association with the unfounded clap-trap of homeopathy.
    Where either of them robustly concerned for the welfare of – and example to – the population, they’d surely advocate only tried and tested medical attention. For them to sponsor an industry that diverts patients (actual or potential) from the best prospect of effective medical help is, frankly, ludicrous.
    They have a conflict of interest: either “serve” the nation or push their business interests. If the latter, then we must modify advertising law to cover and prosecute misrepresentation of water molecules.
    Recently I’ve been musing the depth of C30+ implications: are we to accept that a molecule that’s not encountered the alleged base product has, instead, received its efficacy my some microscopic Chinese Whisper? It’s clear I need to do the maths in this.

    This reincarnated gibberish against our beloved Prof Ernst is more rancid marketing from a representative of a flawed industry that our “leaders” could show responsible example by jettisoning from their portfolios.
    Let’s hope Mrs Windsor and Cloth-brained Charlie see the light.

  • It is beyond belief that Fisher does not know the truth – particularly if he has read your book or this blog – so it is utterly bizarre that he makes those nasty allegations.

    However, surely he should now give you a full and unreserved apology for the defamation, publish that apology in Simile and the Faculty of Homeopathy give you the right of reply to redress the balance and correct his ‘errors’.

    I would also hope that his current employer, University College London Hospitals, would investigate and take appropriate action.

    It’s surely Fisher who needs to move on from blaming you personally for all of the ills that have beset homeopathy in recent years – ills caused by homeopaths themselves failing to provide robust scientific evidence for their trade.

    • we shall se how he reacts. from the time when we were well-acquainted (about 10-15 years ago), I remember him as an honest person. so, find it hard to believe that he has changed so fundamentally.

    • I just looked up Steve Smith (my VC) and found this on Wiki:
      In October 2002, he succeeded Geoffrey Holland as Vice-Chancellor of the University of Exeter.[2] When, under his Vice-Chancellorship Edzard Ernst was involved in a dispute with Prince Charles about the Smallwood Report into complementary medicine, the prince’s secretary Sir Michael Peat put pressure on the University to discipline Ernst for publicizing his reasons for dissociating himself from the report. After being subjected to a “very unpleasant” investigation by the University of Exeter, in which Ernst was “treated as guilty until proven innocent”, the university accepted his innocence but continued, in his view, to treat him as “persona non grata”. All fundraising for his unit ceased, forcing him to use up its core funding, allowing its 15 staff to drift away, and leading to his early retirement.[3][4]
      then I looked up ‘Smallwood report’ on wiki:
      The report was criticized by leading alternative medicine expert Edzard Ernst,[2] pointing out that it was inaccurate, grossly misleading and pointing out that “its conclusions were written before the authors had searched for evidence that might match them”. The editor of The Lancet Richard Horton pointed out that the report contained dangerous nonsense.[3]
      As a consequence of Ernsts’ response, Charles’s secretary Sir Michael Peat pushed Exeter University into investigating Ernst for misconduct. Ernst was eventually exonerated, but his department was disbanded due to lack of funding and he was forced to take early retirement. The role of Prince Charles has been scrutinized as a result of the affair.[4]
      considering these very public announcements, it would seem surprising that Fisher was unaware of the outcome of my uni’s inquisition against me.

  • I can never understand how it is that the likes of Peter Fisher and Michael Dixon manage to stay under the GMC radar.
    From the “Good Practice Guide”
    Para 16.b. “In providing clinical care you must provide effective treatments based on the best available evidence”
    Para 36. “You must treat colleagues fairly and with respect”
    Para 68. “You must be honest and trustworthy in all your communication with patients and colleagues. This means you must make clear the limits of your knowledge and make reasonable checks to make sure any information you give is accurate.”
    Para 70. “When advertising your services, you must make sure the information you publish is factual and can be checked, and does not exploit patients’ vulnerability or lack of medical knowledge.”
    Far be it from me to suggest that having friends in high places influences the GMC.

    • thank you.
      yes, it has been suggested to me that alerting the GMC to his repeated untruths is an option.
      but let’s first give him the opportunity to apologise; this would save all of us a lot of trouble and agro.

    • Just now the GMC is busy defending its reputation. Having firstly asked its own Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service to determine in the case of a doctor convicted of manslaughter, (MPTS determined she should be suspended for a year – but as the incident had arisen on account of system failures, she could then practice under supervision.) The GMC then ignored its MPTS and took the case to the High Court to have her permanently erased. Application to Appeal has been granted.

      Generally, the GMC will only respond to a complaint from a health authority (e.g. a hospital CEO, NHS or private), referral from the police, a doctor who is a colleague, or, most importantly, a patient.

      IMHO, patients do have cause for complaint – not least because, as far as I can ascertain, neither doctor obtains properly informed consent before treatment. Please correct me if I am wrong. But patients are reluctant to fess up that they have been foolish, and many do actually feel better from all the attention they receive.

      Good Medical Practice (#36) requires doctors to adhere to the principles in its ‘Consent’ guidance – and that states:
      #2 (c) ‘You must share with patients the information they want and need in order to make decisions.”

      Manifestly, patients need to know that there is no plausible reproducible evidence that homeopathic preparations have any effect whatsoever beyond acting as placebos.
      Does Dr Fisher so advise his patients before prescribing homeopathic preparations?
      Thought not.

      May I suggest you ask any patient who has been misled or not properly informed to contact me: [email protected], and I will take it up – as a former Associate Member, GMC! (And member of Council, BMA from July 2018, though I would only act in a personal capacity.)

  • Fisher probably made a mistake.

    Fact checking is not a strong suit for homeopaths in general and once an erroneous idea gets lodged in their heads, it is difficult to dislodge. When homeopaths repeat erroneous statements amongst themselves, these ideas just seem to get stronger.

    Whilst Fisher’s mistake undoubtedly plays well to his intended audience, it makes him look foolish in the eyes of others, mostly crucially other medical practitioners.

  • Professor Ernst is not the only one to have a problem with the Prince of Wales.

    From the Times, section 2, Friday 6th April 2018: Headline:

    “I offered to debate with Prince Charles, but he won’t do it.”
    Architect Baron (Richard) Rogers of Riverside (Pompidou Centre; Lloyd’s of London; Barajas Airport, Madrid etc.)

    “Charles is powerful and I’ve had many a building stopped by his influence.
    If it’s not his field, he shouldn’t be making statements about it – it does undermine the role of royalty in the 21st century.”

    That is my beef.
    Not that he endorses homeopathy as such, but that he refuses to share with us the evidence he has that homeopathic preparations are anything other than placebos.
    To be in possession of this valuable evidence but to refuse to share it is mean-spirited and unethical, and to be deprecated.
    Unless of course he has no evidence, in which case he is endorsing fraud.

  • On 5 April, I emailed a letter to Dr Fisher with cc to the Dr Beaumont and to Dr White, the Chie Exec of the Faculty of Homeopathy:

    Dear Peter,
    In the current issue of ‘Simile’ you repeat your allegation that, in 2006, I have leaked the ‘Smallwood report’ to The Times. As I have pointed out many times, this is untrue and defamatory. Today I have published a blog-post about the matter:
    I have been advised about my legal options to correct the impression you seem to be generating about my integrity. For now, I aim to avoid any legal actions and therefore want to give you the opportunity to correct your error by apologising to me and arranging for me to publish a short correction in the next issue of ‘Simile’.
    I can give you one week from today to respond to my request.

    Best regards
    Prof E Ernst, Cambridge UK
    Today I received this response by email

    Dear Professor Ernst

    Thank you for your email and attachment of 5th April 2018.

    I have now had the opportunity to discuss the matter fully with Faculty colleagues. It has been agreed to include a retraction and an apology in the next issue of Simile.

    Please let me know if I may be of further assistance. Yours,

    Greg White
    Chief Executive
    I am looking forward to reading the next issue of Simile and will keep you all posted.

  • Edzard on Friday 13 April 2018 at 06:41

    “regarding Peter, I would not be too optimistic; he does not seem to be the most courageous of men.”

    IMO, unprofessional childish statement and conduct by Ernst, as usual.

    • if you say so. if someone knows about professional behaviour, it must be you.

      • Perhaps you should expel yourself. Why do you lower yourself to such unprofessional childish insulting statements?

        Edzard on Thursday 12 April 2018 at 07:40
        I had a look at your recent comments; for my taste, you are using far too much insults and rudeness. this is to inform you that, in my view, this has now reached a point where I will no longer tolerate it. so, if you want to continue posting comments on this blog, please moderate your language. any further insult will get you expelled.”

        Edzard on Wednesday 11 April 2018 at 19:48

        Edzard on Wednesday 11 April 2018 at 21:05
        “don’t try thinking if you can’t do it”

        Edzard on Wednesday 11 April 2018 at 22:25
        “good question, Dana –
        considering your limited means”

        Edzard on Wednesday 11 April 2018 at 15:26

        Edzard on Monday 27 February 2017 at 19:13
        “you are too dismal to merit a reply”

        • Why do you lower yourself to such unprofessional childish insulting statements?

          There is a difference between an insult and a truthful reply to such an insult. I’d say Professor Ernst is exceedingly polite, given that he still allows for the possibility that these people are simply of the minus habens type instead of assuming they are of the moral monster type with a lot to hide.

          • thanks
            the way I see it, I do loose it sometimes but this is usually after lots of provocation; whereas the insults from Greg et al come unprovoked as a reaction to getting cornered by rational arguments.

          • I would argue that the odd rude remark *after* tons of insults, is only a human reaction. These people tend to be moral monsters or psychopaths. Playing the wounded victim only makes them even more pitiful than they already are.
            As for Peter Fisher, I still remember his appearance in Bryce Wylde’s programme here in Toronto a number of years ago. What a sad performance that was. It was worse than a bunch of pre-schoolers playing doctor. It would have been funny if they actually had been pre-schoolers, but these were adults, claiming to be qualified.
            These people belong in closed psychiatric institutions or in prisons, they should not be let loose on an unsuspecting and gullible public.

  • I just received this retraction published in ‘Simile’:
    In his editorial in the February 2018 issue of simile , Dr Peter Fisher stated that
    Prof Edzard Ernst leaked a confidential pre-publication draft of the 2005 Smallwood Report to the The Times . The Faculty of Homeopathy accepts that an investigation by Exeter University found no evidence Prof Ernst
    was responsible for this breach of confidentiality. The Faculty of Homeopathy
    and Dr Peter Fisher apologise unreservedly to Prof Ernst for this inaccuracy and for any embarrassment it may have caused him and his family.

    • The Faculty of Homeopathy
      and Dr Peter Fisher apologise unreservedly to Prof Ernst for this inaccuracy

      These people are homeopaths indeed. “inaccuracy” gives the impression of “not entirely correct” whereas, of course, it should be “completely wrong”.
      It’ll be interesting to see what the homeopaths will say from now on, if they – including Peter Fisher – will stop making this claim.

      In any case, they do not seem to care much about accuracy, any accuracy. When I tried to find the statement in Simile online (which does not seem to be there yet), I accidentally came accross this very homeopathic advertisement in Simile of February 2018:

      Don’t forget to join us in Liverpool
      for the
      2018 Faculty of Homeopathy Congress
      11 – 14 October 2014

      It seems that homeopaths are not only using science no one has discovered yet and ever, but that they are also time travellers. Could they be getting their science from Dr Who?

      • well-spotted!
        I must get one of the remedies that enable time travel – I have wanted to talk to the great Samuel himself, maybe I can get some reason into his brain!

  • Re the title of this blog post, ‘Is the Queen’s homeopath, Dr Peter Fisher, erring or lying?’

    Interestingly, in this video in which the late Christopher Hitchens is being interviewed on the subject of the late Billy Graham and his personal integrity about what he preached (1:44 in), Hitchens says that Graham basically concluded that ‘it’s too late to stop now, lots of people expect it of me’.

    It reminded me of 5:16 in this video where Peter Fisher
    says that he couldn’t give up homeopathy now even if he wanted to because his patients wouldn’t let him. That was filmed in 2007, but it’s worth remembering that back in 2000 he suggested that homeopathy’s placebo response could be more important than a genuine effect

    IOW, it could be that Peter Fisher knows that homeopathy is complete nonsense.

  • Whilst I offer respectful sincere sympathies to all who knew the Royal Homepath, who was tragically killed in a bicycle and lorry accident yesterday, the telling question remains, in light of the scientific facts that it is total quackery nonsense, will the British Royal family employ another homeopath to replace him?

    See for example,

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