Distorted and jaundiced view of the facts on ME

20th July 2001 at 01:00
HAVING become aware that the study referred to by Pat Sweeney in his deplorable tirade against children who are sick and disabled (TESS, June 15) is almost certainly that which was reportedly carried out by the Tymes Trust, I am writing to object in the strongest possible terms at the way in which this national charity has been portrayed, albeit not by name.

The trust is represented on the chief medical officer's working group on ME, which has been working for over two years to prepare a report for the chief medical officer at his request.

ME is a disabling neurological disease and to imply that we would conduct any but the most careful study brings the charity into disrepute. This could lead to reduced contributions to our new research fund, affecting the research that we are able to commission into this dreadful illness.

While the charity's name has not been published, I contend that it is easy for us to be identified because the important study referred to (DowsettColby JCFS 1997) has only just been incorrectly reported in the national Scottish press as having been carried out by ourselves.

That error was presumably the source of Mr Sweeney's information and not, as he states, independent research of his own. Had it been, he would not have made this serious mistake.

It is quite clear from this bigoted and prejudiced article that Mr Sweeney is completely ignorant of the matters about which he has written and we lay the responsibility for this injustice, which in our opinion contravenes the Press Code of Practice, at your door.

I shall be making a formal complaint against The Times Educational Supplement Scotland to the Press Complaints Commission under heading 13, Discrimination.

We also believe that your piece contravenes human rights legislation and are taking advice on that matter.

Keith Harley Chair of Trustees Patching Hall Lane Chelmsford

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