Wednesday 20 January 2016

Did Martin McKee Lie In The BMJ?

Following on from yesterday's article concerning Martin McKee's conspiracy theory - the stupidity of which, by the way, was illustrated brilliantly by David Sweanor in the comments here - it's worth expanding more on another revelation I touched upon from AT's FOI.

You see, last year The Lancet published an anonymously-authored editorial which questioned PHE's judgement, claiming that the organisation had "fallen short", had not taken into account conflicts of interest of certain researchers, and was relying on "flimsy evidence" when citing the 95% statistic. It was widely assumed that McKee and/or Simon Capewell may have written the article and this was hinted at by some of McKee's peers in tobacco control.

As a result, McKee and Capewell wrote a response on the BMJ website to vehemently deny they had anything to do with it.
McNeill and colleagues state that responses to “our earlier accusations and inaccuracies have been published”. The references they cite imply that we were authors of a Lancet editorial that also criticised their report.[1] For the avoidance of doubt, we were not and the Guardian, which initially reported this, has now issued a correction.[2]
Indeed, the Guardian did issue a retraction.
This article was amended on 30 August 2015. An earlier version incorrectly stated that Prof Capewell was an author of the Lancet editorial.
And their retraction is correct, because thanks to the Freedom of Information Act we now know that it was Martin McKee who wrote it.

That email to the CMO was dated the 21st August, and the following week - on the 29th - The Lancet editorial was published. There were no other articles at The Lancet that week on the subject of e-cigs written by McKee.

So therefore we must surely assume that McKee lied about his involvement in the anonymous Lancet editorial, and he did so on the pages of the BMJ.

This is astounding stuff! For a professor of 'public health' to deliberately lie in his profession's most prominent journal should surely call into question any integrity he claims to possess. Yet there he is admonishing his peers for accusing him of writing something which he admits he did to Dame Sally.

There must also be questions over The Lancet allowing McKee to publish that article anonymously, so sidestepping the journal's requirements for declaring conflicts of interest. Because, as I have said before, McKee has a huge conflict of interest which should be declared whenever he writes about the subject of e-cigs. As far as I know McKee doesn't work for The Lancet, so why is he being afforded space to publish his insanely biased views without being named as the author?

So it would appear that we now know McKee lied in the BMJ; that The Lancet allowed him to attack PHE anonymously as an editorial despite not being on their staff; and that this prevented scrutiny of McKee's conflicts of interest.

What's more, a few days later on the 4th September, McKee was then able to write about how he "read with interest" his own Lancet editorial, responding to critical comments as if he hadn't written it. And what's more more, his response to criticism complains about PHE failing to carry perceived conflicts of interest from the David Nutt study through to their final review, whilst he was himself hiding his own by writing anonymously in The Lancet.

In most professions this would be career-ending stuff - I mean how can you trust a man who is prepared to go to such great lengths to hide his involvement in smear campaigns and, it would seem, blatantly lie to colleagues - but it's 'public health' we're talking about so they'll probably just give him another gong to go with his CBE.

H/T AT via email

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