ASA Full Case - 3
On 9 January 2013 the ASA Ltd sent the expert advice they had received from Professor Hylands on the Evidence Check 2 and Homeopathy in Healthcare. They also sent Professor Hylands’ CV, which showed that he had had a career in conventional pharmacology, but did not show that he had any experience, training or qualifications in homeopathy. On 10 January 2013 H:MC21 acknowledged receipt of the reports and CV and enquired again about the reference to “a review of over 100 placebo controlled trials”.
The same day, 10 January 2013, the ASA Ltd sent further information about historical complaints. This information showed that complaints about homeopathy had been minimal, supporting the claim by H:MC21 that the idea that homeopathy is controversial is actually the product of a campaign, not of genuine public concern.
On 29 January 2013 H:MC21 sent critiques of Professor Hylands’ report on the Evidence Check 2 and his report on Homeopathy in Healthcare, together with a letter and two supporting documents. On 8 February 2013 H:MC21 sent the response to the Draft Recommendation with a covering letter and a further 11 supporting documents. It should be noted that the authors of the Swiss HTA were concerned that the ASA Ltd was misrepresenting their work, and their correspondence with the ASA Ltd is available on the Freedom4Health website.
On 28 February H:MC21 sent additional information relating to the real dangers in the position the ASA Ltd was advocating in its Draft Recommendation, together with confirming excerpts from Julian Tudor Hart, The Political Economy of Healthcare (Bristol: The Policy Press, 2010).
Final Adjudication of the Appeal
On 10 May the ASA Ltd sent the final Draft Recommendation, an accompanying letter and a revised report on Homeopathy in Healthcare by Professor Hylands. On 19 June the Independent Reviewer wrote and sent a copy of the final adjudication. This was to be published on 26 June 2013. In fact it was not published until 3 July, and no explanation or warning of this change in date was given to H:MC21.
On 9 July 2013 H:MC21 sent the ASA Ltd a response to the adjudication and published this on its website. The ASA Ltd has not responded to any of the issues raised. On 4 October 2013 H:MC21 again wrote to the ASA Ltd raising further issues, including questions concerning relations between the ASA Ltd and complainants. Questions had initially been raised by H:MC21 in a letter of 4 June 2013, to which the ASA Ltd had replied on 5 June 2013, though without appearing to take the matter seriously.
This case is important for a number of reasons. In particular it reveals the following tendencies in the ASA Ltd’s process of investigation:
An increasing rejection of facts in favour of opinions;
A reliance on opinions increasingly distant from the facts;
An increasingly rigid adoption of a purely ideological position;
A continual restructuring of arguments to fit the ideological position; and
A persistent refusal to give way even when obviously wrong.
When the adjudication in this case is joined to the adjudication in the case of the Society of Homeopaths (published on the same day), it is found that the ASA Ltd has ruled all possible types of evidence in support of homeopathy inadmissible (see the Briefing Notes). Such an unscientific position is only achievable if the starting point is not founded on a true view of the world. It confirms that the ASA Ltd has rejected “the available scientific knowledge” (CAP Code 12.1), rejected appropriate expertise (CAP Code 12.2), and adopted an ideological position (in conflict with Scope of the Code, IV j).
As a body which can control publication through websites and paid-for space in journals, the ASA Ltd does not simply have a regulatory role, but has the power to censor the truth in favour of the ideologically acceptable. Public examination of this case allows a judgement to be made as to whether or not the ASA Ltd is now exercising regulation or censorship.
This summary can be downloaded here.