The transcripts of the official inquiry into the culture, practices and ethics of the press. More…

I don't know how we disagree, but it is a disease which affects many, many people which causes chronic fatigue and many people cannot work. Some children have MECFS but they have never found a biological cause. They've found many things that contribute to it and there are treatments that are effective, but for many people, to discover that a virus has been found in the samples of, I think, 60 per cent of patients was extraordinary. We found a biological cause. And not only that, it promised an effective treatment. The treatments we have can alleviate the symptoms but they don't cure the disease.

So this was huge hope for everybody. It was published in a good journal and it was run on the front pages, but again, I think the question newsrooms should have asked is: this is extraordinary. Has it been replicated? Has it been found before? The answer is is: no. No one has ever found it before and this is the first study. Let's put it in the inside pages.

In fact, in the States, people were running out buying tests for this virus, buying treatments which had helped alleviate other symptoms of this virus and then, within months, a group from Imperial College London came to the SMC. They tried to find it, couldn't find it, a group in Holland, a group in the States, and now we've had about ten studies. They cannot find it, and it ends it up it was contaminated samples.

Again, it was in Science. It was in a good journal. It's right that the journalists write it up but not splash it on the front page. It's too preliminary.

So we love science on the front page and there's some fantastic science stories. There's plenty of opportunities but I think it would resolve a lot of problems if journalists just didn't overclaim for these studies.

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