The last few days, I spent much of my time answering questions from journalists on the subject of Charles lll. [interestingly, almost exclusively journalists NOT writing for UK newspapers]. Unsurprisingly, they all wanted to know about the way Charles managed to close down my research department at Exeter University some 10 years ago.

The story is old and I am a bit tired of repeating it. So, nowadays I often refer people to Wikipedia where a short paragraph sums it up:

Ernst was accused by Prince Charles’ private secretary of having breached a confidentiality agreement regarding the 2005 Smallwood report. After being subjected to a “very unpleasant” investigation by the University of Exeter, 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 and allow its 15 staff to drift away.”[15] He retired in 2011, two years ahead of his official retirement.[10][25] In July 2011, a Reuters article described his “long-running dispute with the Prince about the merits of alternative therapies” and stated that he “accused Britain’s heir-to-the-throne Prince Charles and other backers of alternative therapies on Monday of being ‘snake-oil salesmen’ who promote products with no scientific basis”, and that the dispute “had cost him his job – a claim Prince Charles’s office denied”.[14][26] Ernst is a republican, and has supported Republic, an organisation which campaigns for the abolition of the British monarchy.[27]

Re-reading it yesterday, I noticed that the text is not entirely correct (a full account can be found here). Let me explain:

  • There never was a formal confidentiality agreement with signature etc. But I did feel bound to keep the contents of the Smallwood report confidential.
  • The investigation by my University was not just ‘very unpleasant’, it was also far too long. It lasted 13 months! I had to take lawyers against my own University!
  • In addition, it was unnecessary, not least because a University should simply establish the facts and, if reasonable, defend its professor from outside attacks. The facts could have been established over a cup of tea with the Vice Chancellor in less than half an hour.
  • When my department had been destroyed in the process, I retired voluntarily and was subsequently re-employed for half a year to help find a successor. In retrospect, I see this move as a smart ploy by the University to keep me sweet and prevent me from going to the press.
  • A successor was never hired; one good candidate was found but he was told that he had to find 100% of the funds to do the job. Nobody of high repute would have found this acceptable, and thus the only good candidate was not even tempted to accept the position.
  • The snake oil salesman story is an entirely separate issue (see here) that happened years later.
  • It is true that Charles’s office denied that Charles knew about his 1st private secretary writing to my Vice Chancellor asking him to investigate my alleged breach of confidence. However, as Sir Michael Peat started his letter with the words “I AM WRITING … AS THE PRINCE OF WALES’ PRIVATE SECRETARY…, I find this exceedingly hard to believe.
  • Even though Charles did a sterling job in trying, I did not become a republican. I do have considerable doubts that Charles will be a good King (his reign might even be the end of the monarchy), and I did help the republican cause on several occasions but I never formally joined any such group (in general, I am not a joiner of parties, clubs or interest groups).

To one of the journalists who recently interviewed me, I explained that I do not in the slightest feel sore, bitter, or angry on a personal level. Going into early retirement suited me perfectly fine, and thanks to that decision I enjoy life to the full. The significance of this story lies elsewhere: Charles’ intervention managed to permanently close the then worldwide-only department that systematically and critically investigated so-called alternative medicine. If you know another, please let me know.

14 Responses to The ‘very unpleasant’ time when Charles accused me of having breached confidentiality

  • Not one person commented, wonder why? Charles is a King now, free speech in UK is not like here in US. I can call a President any name I want, say anything about him in negative way, just can’t threaten harm.

    Talk shit about the King and you will be facing arrest in UK. Your UK audience won’t comment on this, 85% believe in monarchy and wish to stay free of confinement.
    You may want to keep King out of your blog now. Thank God you took care of your citizenship issue.

    I believe you were screwed over, fighting scam medicine, battle was with wrong person.

    You think it is appropriate to refer to him as Charles?

    • I tend to refer to him as JET. Not as flattering as it sounds, it stands for Jug Eared Twat.

      Maybe not much comment on this post but the older posts to which it points are enlightening. And there has been a fair amount of comment in the press on the whole issue of monarchy and the overreaction of the police. Or at least in The Guardian. Much of the press and TV coverage seems to confuse the outpouring of sentimentality towards the dead queen as being support for the monarchy. I suspect a lot of it is just group wallow and self indulgence- a chance for a once in a lifetime selfie.

      Whilst I don’t expect a sudden outburst of republicanism I do think once the drama is over and JET reveals his true colours we’ll see a gradual decline in support for this archaic system. Maybe that’s more a hope than an expectation.

    • The polling in support of a republic is more like 25% at the last count – and far less than 85% actually supported a monarchy. That was during the jubilee, so it could have changed. But I don’t think it’s that high in terms of support for a monarchy.

  • King Charles ruined your studies, you chose to fight his beliefs and lost. Your studies and outcome 100% right, just not aligning with grant dollars. Like half of science, say what we want for grants or lose them. Key word, half.
    Politicians and scientists are bought all the time, about the money.
    I can see a private research company less corrupt over a college relying on grants.

  • The British Royal family is an old crime family that has successfully punterized the zombie horde of the world. Charles has been trained like the son of a Mafia head to convince vulnerable people (read the majority of human sheep) that he has something to teach them and cares for them and the UK and planet. No surprise that he sold quack cures such as Dutchy Originals Detox Tincture to the gullible public that considers him as a “highness” and themselves as lower. We ned more brave and sensible people like you Edzard.

    • ‘crime family’ might be going a bit too far.

    • Are you the same Dr Mike Sutton who has appeared on the controversial Brand New Tube video hosting site being interviewed by the vile grifter and conspiracy theorist Sonia Poluton?

      If so may I ask you how you ended up getting involved with someone like Poluton? Genuine question.

      Also, given your comments about the royal family, do you share Poulton’s bizarre beliefs about satanic ritual abuse, paedophiles in parliament etc?

      • Just to be clear, you can be a Republican and think Charles unfit to hold any public office without believing in satanic conspiracies, Bill Gates implanting chips, the “great replacement” or any of that nonsense. There are perfectly good rational reasons to abolish the monarchy without stupid accusations.

        It shouldn’t need saying really but people do make the most absurd links ( I don’t mean you Louise ).

  • at Sutton,
    Wow, a crime family. Besides Andrew, they have been straight up loyalty. The actual monarchy is only custom, they have only opinion. The monarchy is for show, with strong opinion to how how country runs.
    The family is for our fairy tales. Most in world love them.

  • “Even though Charles did a sterling job in trying, I did not become a republican. I do have considerable doubts that Charles will be a good King (his reign might even be the end of the monarchy), and I did help the republican cause on several occasions but I never formally joined any such group (in general, I am not a joiner of parties, clubs or interest groups).”

    Funnily enough, it was me that added the information on you being a republican to the Wikipedia article, Edzard. That’s because your name is listed at this article:
    The source is Republic’s old list of supporters from 2009. I imagine that the list was drawn from those thought to be republicans, rather than members of Republic itself, or anyone who had signed up to a list – so you must have said or done something to imply you were a republican, Edzard. Helping the republican cause may have had something to do with it. The list isn’t on their website now. Should you wish, I can remove your name from the republicans list. I have modified your article with the comments above (including a typo – ‘Vie Chancellor’, which you may wish to remove). Subjects of articles are not meant to edit said articles, which you may or may not be aware of.

    FYI, I am a republican, and a member of Republic, so I’m hopeful that Charles’s reign WILL be the end of the monarchy. However, my aim was simply to represent the facts available to me when editing Wikipedia.

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