Complaint to the Press Complaints Commission

29th August 2011

During July and August 2011 a series of articles has appeared in the UK press carrying the same, or very similar stories all highlighting the opinions of Professor Simon Wessely of King’s College, London – specifically his views on Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME) (sometimes referred to as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)). The articles and newspapers concerned were –

The Sunday Times ("Shoot the medical messenger – see if that’ll cure you" - Rod Liddle 31 July)

The Times (6 August 2011 - Stefanie Marsh) (“ Chronic fatigue syndromeresearchers face death threats from militants” -Robin McKie - 21 August 2011)

Observer Spectator ("Mind The Gap" – Wessely -26 August)

Daily Telegraph ("Protestors have got it all wrong on ME" 27 August 2011 Max Pemberton)

ME is a serious, disabling and chronic organic (i.e. physical not mental) disorder. ME has been classified by the World Health Organisation (ICD 10 G 93.3) as a neurological illness affecting approximately 200,000 individuals within the UK. It is also accepted by the UK government as a neurological illness of severe disability.

We believe that the these articles mislead and distort the view of ME and people with ME. We have therefore made a complaint to the Press Complaints Commission as we feel that the Editors’ Code of Practice (which states that “All members of the press have a duty to maintain the highest professional standards”) has been breached

We hope that the Press Complaints Commission will investigate what we believe are clear breaches of ethics and procedures by these newspapers.

As of 13th September 2011 the PCC promised to supply a decision within 35 working days.

The response and decision of the PCC was received on 18th October 2011.

The correspondence:

Code of Practice which all newspapers and magazines who subscribe must adhere to click here

1 IiME Letter to PCC 29th August 2011 Click here

2 Reply from PCC 5th September 2011 Click here

3 Further IiME Letter and Document to PCC 10th September 2011 Click here

4 Reply from PCC 13th September 2011 Click here

5 Decision by PCC 18th October 2011 Click here


Last Update 11/05/2010