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   Jan 21

Top scientist claims he lost his job because Prince Charles wanted to ‘silence’ him for criticising report into alternative medicine commissioned by the royal

In his book, Prof Ernst describes the episode as ‘the most unpleasant period of my entire professional life’.

The trouble started in 2005 when Prof Ernst publicly attacked a draft report by economist Christopher Smallwood that had been personally commissioned by Charles.

He described the report, which claimed complementary and alternative medicine (Cam) was cost effective and should be available on the NHS, as ‘complete misleading rubbish’.

But Prof Ernst was himself strongly criticised for disclosing the report’s contents before they had been fully reviewed and published.

On September 22, 2005, Sir Michael wrote an official letter of complaint on Clarence House notepaper to the University of Exeter’s vice chancellor, citing a ‘breach of confidence’ after the professor had been sent an early and incomplete draft of the report for comment.

Over the next 13 months, Prof Ernst says he was subjected to interrogations, ‘dozens of cross-examining emails and letters’ and ‘treated as guilty until proven innocent’.

Eventually he was told by the Vice Chancellor that a formal disciplinary warning ‘would not be appropriate’. At the same time, he received a stern warning not to misbehave again.

He wrote: ‘I had been interrogated, investigated, treated like dirt for 13 months, and exonerated in the end. But even while acknowledging that I had not been guilty of any misdemeanour, my vice chancellor had issued an unambiguous warning to me: if I even thought of applying my personal ethical standards in any similar situation in the future, I would not be so lucky as to get away with it again.

Prince Charles has been a major supporter of homeopathic medicine in Britain, lobbying the Government

‘Prince Charles’s attempt to silence me, it seemed, had been successful.’

In the years that followed, he says, support for his department dried up to the point where it could no longer function.

Speaking in London, Prof Ernst said: ‘I was innocent, but all support broke down. My unit of 20 co-workers was systematically destroyed.’

Asked if he felt badly treated, he added: ‘Badly is an understatement. My line manager said to me “I know we’re treating you like shit”. That is a quote.’

Prof Ernst, who has had 48 books published and more than 1,000 articles in peer-reviewed journals, remains steadfastly opposed to unproven alternative treatments, and openly critical of the Prince of Wales.


Prince Charles has never made a secret of his interest in homeopathy.

In July 2013, he had a meeting with health minister Jeremy Hunt where he lobbied in favour of homeopathic medicine.

Charles was understood to be unhappy that government plans to set up a register of practitioners of herbal and Chinese medicine – designed to give them an element of respectability – have stalled.

Labour MP Paul Flynn said that by promoting ‘voodoo medicine’, Charles was putting himself in a ‘very dangerous position’ because as monarch he will have to be impartial.

‘The head of state, which he will soon be, has to remain above controversy. The only serious job of a head of state is to be above policy,’ Mr Flynn said.

‘If he wishes to lobby ministers, he should stand for Parliament or join a lobbying firm, but he should not be using his position as heir to the throne to do it.’

Of Charles’s meeting with Mr Hunt, Clarence House said: ‘The Prince meets Government ministers from time to time in his role as heir to the throne as well as Privy Counsellor and this was one of those meetings. There was no specific agenda and a wide range of topics were discussed.’

In 2010, the then Labour Health Minister Mike O’Brien confirmed that Prince Charles had brought up homeopathy in meetings with Andy Burnham, who was then Health Secretary.

In a chapter of his new book entitled Off With His Head, he writes: ‘Prince Charles has continued to promote alternative medicine indefatigably, often showing himself unwilling or unable to distinguish between real health care and blatant quackery, between medicine and snake oil, or between the truth and some half-baked obsessions of his own.’

He argues that while Charles no longer courts publicity as much as he used to, he continues to be an active proponent of alternative medicine while ‘hiding’ behind the facade of the College of Medicine.

The charity, which advocates a holistic way of looking at health ‘making the connection between mind, body and spirit’, arose from the ruins of the Prince’s Foundation for Integrated Health which was disbanded in 2010.

Prof Ernst insists he is not against all alternative or complementary therapies, and claims there is evidence that some, including certain herbal treatments and acupuncture, can be effective. Others he dismisses as a waste of time and money and potentially dangerous.

He is especially scornful of homeopathy, which is based on extreme dilutions of substances that are supposed to help the body heal itself. Currently doctors can refer patients for homeopathy treatment on the NHS.

‘For homeopathy we should be closing the book,’ said Prof Ernst. ‘They’ve had 200 years to prove that it’s anything more than a placebo. That proof has failed, so let’s now move on.

‘Homeopathy is an example of a harmless treatment being quite harmful.’

A Scientist In Wonderland is published on January 20 by Imprint Academic.

A spokeswoman at Clarence House said: ‘The Prince of Wales believes in combining the best of evidence-based, conventional medicine with an holistic approach to healthcare – treating the whole person rather than just the symptoms of disease and taking into account the effects on health of factors such as lifestyle, the environment and emotional well-being.

‘His Royal Highness is Patron of over 30 healthcare organisations.’

Source: Daily Mail

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