All is not rosy at WDDTY Towers. On October 1st 2013, the Times newspaper published an article about the calls to have WDDTY removed from the shelves of supermarkets and newsagents, because of its dangerous and misleading content. There have been many blogs on this subject and I’ll no doubt be adding further to them in due course, but here I’d like to look at just one bit of the saga. Because the editors of WDDTY feel they’ve been defamed by the Times article, and they’ve apparently called in Carter-Ruck to see if they can sort out those “slipshod” journos at the Times.
Carter-Ruck is a British law firm which specialises in libel litigation. According to the page about them on Wikipedia, ‘Legal 500 describes Carter-Ruck as “pre-eminent in the field of defamation and privacy claimant work.”’ If you have a problem with defamation, and you can afford them, maybe you can hire the Carter-Ruck Team. You’d be accessing some of the finest legal brains available, and they are very good not only at getting redress but also in making a problem disappear. If you have a reputation issue as a result of toxic waste getting dumped where it shouldn’t be dumped, for example, Carter-Ruck would be the first people to call. They can make that problem go away.
We’ve no need to speculate on the reasons why WDDTY would choose this particular company to champion their cause. Because WDDTY and Carter-Ruck have a history.
Libel lawyers: We’re not just here for the litigious things in life. (Actually we are just here for the litigious things in life.)
According to Lynne McTaggart, back in 1996 when she was writing her book What Doctors Don’t Tell You (the newsletter begat a book that begat a magazine – sorry, journal – and presumably will later become a film and a sandwich), her publishers turned to Carter-Ruck for help.
(E-mail to WDDTY e-mail list, 3rd October 2013)
Now this is curious. Lynne clearly states that Carter-Ruck spent “hundreds of hours of legal time carefully sifting through all of the scientific evidence supporting statements I made in the book to ensure the material was rock solid. It was only published after they were satisfied that every last statement was correct.”
I find this very odd. It seems to me very unlikely that a firm of libel lawyers would accept a commission to go over scientific evidence. I doubt that Carter-Ruck’s lawyers would have felt themselves qualified to do this, and they would have been reluctant to expose themselves in this way. No scientific journal I know of uses libel lawyers to peer review its research, nor do they rely on the suits to tell them if it is “rock solid”.
No, I think it’s far more likely that what Carter-Ruck were actually engaged to do was check the book for anything that might result in defamation proceedings against McTaggart or her publisher. This sems a natural thing to do if you are planning to impugn people or organisations directly, but it has nothing to do with science or the accuracy of the scientific evidence. After all, you can claim that cancer is caused by angry fairies; your lawyers will tell you that it’s not defamatory, but that doesn’t make it true.
So here we have, I suspect, another example of the editors of WDDTY extrapolating badly to draw the wrong conclusion from the data. Much like most of their magazine.
(If Carter-Ruck would like to contact me to correct this, and say that they actually did go over the scientific evidence and confirm that every statement was scientifically correct, then I will be happy to add a note to that effect on this page.)