The British doctor and outspoken anti-vaxer Aseem Malhotra has featured several times on this blog, e.g.:
- UK Cardiologist Dr. Aseem Malhotra receives a well-deserved award
- Dr Aseem Malhotra and Dr Steven James: candour and complacency
Now, there has been a potentially important new development in his story. The Good Law Project recently announced the following:
During the pandemic, we depended on doctors telling us how we could protect ourselves and our loved ones. We trusted their advice would be based on the most reliable and up-to-date research.
But when the British cardiologist Dr Aseem Malhotra went on television, or posted to his hundreds of thousands of followers on social media, he repeatedly claimed the vaccine was ineffective and posed a greater threat than Covid, causing “horrific unprecedented harms including sudden cardiac death” – suggestions refuted by medical experts and branded false by factcheckers.
The General Medical Council is responsible for regulating doctors in the UK and investigating those whose conduct falls short of the required standards. Despite the clear risk to public health of vaccine misinformation, it has so far refused to launch an investigation into Malhotra’s public pronouncements, originally saying that they “don’t consider that the comments or posts made by the doctor call his fitness to practice into question…” and subsequently upholding that decision after a number of doctors challenged it.
Good Law Project is supporting a doctor who is taking the regulator to the High Court over their failure to investigate whether Malhotra has breached standards. The judicial review has now been given permission to proceed by the High Court, which held that it raises an “issue of general public importance” as to how the GMC exercises its functions.
According to the claimant, Dr Matt Kneale, medical professionals “should not be using their professional status to promote harmful misinformation”.
“When doctors repeatedly say things that are incorrect, misleading and put people’s health at risk – for example by encouraging them to refuse a vaccine – the GMC must hold them to account,” Kneale said.
For the Good Law Project Executive Director, Jo Maugham, the regulator’s failure to investigate doctors spreading misinformation forms part of a wider pattern.
“What we have learned from both the pandemic inquiry and the calamitous economic consequences of Brexit,” Maugham explained, “is quite how serious are the consequences of deciding, as Michael Gove did, that we have ‘had enough of experts’.”
The council may prefer to avoid becoming embroiled in a controversy over free speech, he continued, but “its primary obligation is to protect the public – and it’s really hard to see how its stance delivers on that objective.”
Dr Malhotra is far from the only proponent of vaccine misinformation in the UK. Open Democracy revealed that anti-lockdown MPs, including Tufton Street’s Steve Baker, took large donations from a secretive group called The Recovery Alliance, which has been linked with a fake grassroots organisation that campaigned against the vaccine.
We’re working to stop misinformation from going unchallenged, and to make sure that regulators like the General Medical Council hold dangerous doctors who make unfounded claims accountable.
By helping to fund this case, you’ll be fighting for trust in the medical profession and to make sure public safety is doctors’ first priority. Any support you can give will help us make positive change.
The ‘Good Law Project’?
Who are they?
Good Law Project is a not for profit campaign organisation that uses the law for a better world. We know that the law, in the right hands, can be a fair and decent force for good. It is a practical tool for positive change and can make amazing things happen. We are proud to be primarily funded by members of the public, which keeps us fiercely independent. We want to inspire hope in difficult times by showing that you can make a difference, with the backing of good law. Our mission is to use the law to hold power to account, protect the environment, and ensure no one is left behind. You can learn more about our organisation and achievements in 2022-23 in our annual report.
You might even decide to support this splendid organization!
I hope you do.