The psychiatric transcript of LBB's "trial" has now appeared online here. I will be analyzing this part of her "trial" in detail over the next few days. What happened to Blakemore Brown must never happen to any other commentator on science. The BPS approach to debate is absolutely wrong and against the public interest.
Worse still, the BPS have shrouded the issue in secrecy [Link]. They have allowed the nature of the "charges" to be misrepresented in public while refusing to allow Blakemore Brown to i) discuss her own case, ii) present her case at an international meeting, or iii) publish the transcripts of her trial. The BPS have threatened legal proceedings if Blakemore Brown breaks their "copyright" on what they have done to her.
If Blakemore-Brown did do anything seriously wrong in terms of patient care, then charges should be examined in detail, and criticism should be transparent - but we have seen no evidence of this in her "trial". These procedures have been likened to a Salem Witch Trial and threaten to shut down all debate. I don't have to agree with her in order to be repelled by what is happening. This is not how debates about policy or science should work.
Blakemore Brown appears as sane as the next person working in this controversial area. Having spoken extensively with her, her colleagues and some of her patients, it would be hard to describe her as having a paranoid illness. Even harder since those of us who have investigated the facts of her case know that all of her so called "paranoid delusions" appear to have a solid foundation in fact. The British Psychological Society don't appear to be too concerned about facts. Blakemore Brown claimed that:
- there were successful attempts to hack into her computer.
- named parties in communication with the BPS had admitted to computer hacking.
- documents had been stolen from her home (by an individual known to the BPS).
- this individual had altered the address of her bank account.
- a patient had been coached to make an earlier "complaint" by a patient "support group".
- this support group subsequently received a large injection of funding from a pharmaceutical company.
- some E-mail and written correspondence had been forged.
- the BPS lied that they had not been approached repeatedly by a third party to report that a patient had been coached to complain.
- the BPS transmitted correspondence of dubious provenance (supposedly written by herself) to a psychiatrist for "review" without checking whether she had in fact written it.
- critical background regarding the source of the correspondence and the stated intentions of the individual who provided it was not conveyed to the assessing psychiatrist.
- the BPS had continued with their procedures taking no cognisance of the fact that her daughter was desperately ill.
- the "panel" judging her mental state was composed of an accountant, a physiotherapist, and Dr Pat Frankish.
- the medical assessor to the panel (qualified in medicine in 1953, was a Consultant Psychiatrist at King's College Hospital), is author of these books on Christianity and psychiatry and has accused her of "grandiosity" (presumably of a non-religious type). This is on the basis of her involvement in parliamentary reports - unfortunately senior parliamentarians have declined to agree with this interesting assessment (see letter from Lord Earl Howe)
- that the Psychiatrist chosen to assess her mental state and paranoia from her E-mail syntax (including falsified E-mails) is Deputy Director of the UK Mental Health Research Network which aims to provide "a better environment for pharma industry-sponsored research in the UK" [Link].
- that the psychiatrist "forgot" to include this appointment on his supplied CV
- that a number of anonymous and named parties had conducted a deliberate and protracted campaign (between 2002 and 2006) to induce a "flame war" on an Internet bulletin board to defame her -- and that she knew the identity of at least one of the anonymous posters (that bulletin board is there for all to see - as is an archive of an earlier postings - but the BPS have not thought to ask for it).
- that one of those parties defaming her anonymously was in communication with the British Psychological Society.
Unfortunately for Blakemore Brown, she also claimed (amongst many other excellent writings) that thimerosal in vaccines might not be such a great idea. Furthermore she claimed that some prominent paediatricians might have misled the scientific community in terms of the strength of science relating to the diagnosis of Münchhausen's Syndrome by Proxy (MSbP) and supposed murders and injury of children by their mothers. I have no idea at all about this aspect of science. I have no idea whether there is any credible scientific evidence to indicate the specificity and sensitivity of indices for diagnosis of MSbP. I have no idea whether vaccines are always helpful. Lisa Blakemore Brown may well be wrong - but I am starting to wonder why those in power feel the need to stifle debate in this most controversial and scientifically blurry area of medicine.There are of course never conspiracies to discredit those who forward unpopular, embarrassing or potentially costly scientific viewpoints. Those who believe in conspiracies must be mentally ill. See the next posting on querulous paranoia, and more about the Mental Health Research Network.