A Letter From Fran Sheffield
Today I will be in court – the Federal Court of Australia.
By the end of today I may no longer be allowed to speak or write on the homeopathic treatment and prevention of whooping cough. Why would this be?
On the 18th February 2013, I received two emails with letters attached from Lauren White, Assistant Director of the Enforcement Operations of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC). One was to the company Homeopathy Plus Australia Pty Ltd of which I am a Director and the other was to me personally as a registrant of the Homeopathy Plus website domain name.
We were advised by Ms White that two pages on our website that referred to whooping cough, the whooping cough vaccine, and the homeopathic treatment and prevention of whooping cough contained potentially misleading and deceptive statements. One of those pages was not in the public domain but in a private members’ area.
The letters also referred to prior concerns about a third page that was no longer on the website. That page also spoke about homeopathy and whooping cough but had been removed in April 2012 to allay the concerns of the ACCC. At the time we believed the matter to be resolved, but this was apparently not so as it too was resurrected as a basis for action; Ms White’s letter advised that the ACCC would seek orders regarding these three pages for:
- Injunctions (including an interlocutory injunction);
- Pecuniary penalties; and
We were told the ACCC would consider settling this matter by consent if we did not contest liability and agreed to the orders sought by the ACCC. This was something Homeopathy Plus and I could not do because we fundamentally still believe the information we supplied to be correct.
Two days later we received another email advising that a date had been set for a fast-tracked Directions Hearing at the Federal Court of Australia (Sydney) in which the above “relief” points would be sought.
So, today, I find myself in court.
What was so shocking and misleading in those pages that led the ACCC to take such action? The following paragraphs are those identified by the ACCC as responsible:
“Most developed countries are currently in the grip of the whooping cough epidemic. To stop its spread, health officials are calling for the vaccination of adults as well as children. But is large-scale vaccination the best solution? Not only is protection from the current vaccine short-lived and unreliable, but side-effects are common. Recent research also suggests that the bacterium has mutated to a strain against which the vaccine is no longer effective. The homeopathic approach to this problem offers a safe and sensible solution. Homeopathy has a 200 year history of treating and preventing whooping cough without the risk of dangerous side-effects. It can also be used as a 2nd line of defence should vaccine from whooping cough already have been given.” (This page has not been on the website since April 2012).
“Many of those affected by whooping cough have already been vaccinated. Recent studies show that the vaccine has limited effect. To stop the spread of the current epidemic, health officials are calling for the vaccination of adults as well as children. But is large-scale vaccination the best solution when protection from the current vaccine appears unreliable at best and side-effects are common? Perhaps it is time to revisit Homeopathy – Homeopaths certainly think so. Homeopathy offers an alternative or ancillary approach to whooping cough management. It is been used by medical and non-medical Homeopaths during the past 200 years for that purpose and has an excellent safety record.”
(This page is not in the public domain but in the private members area.)
Government Data Shows Whooping Cough Vaccine a Failure.
Australia, along with other countries, has seen a meteoric rise in the number of notified cases of whooping cough in the past few years. Lack of vaccination is often blamed but now information from the Australian government shows that the whooping cough vaccine has been largely ineffective. Between 2008 and 2010, of children aged 0-4 years whose vaccination status was known and who had contracted whooping cough, 75% were fully vaccinated and a further 14% were partly vaccinated. Only 11% were un-vaccinated. Why was the Australian government so slow to release this information? Do records from other countries show this vaccine has been equally unsuccessful? What is the future recommendation from government about whooping cough prevention? In the absence of an effective vaccine for this dangerous disease, it is also wise to know about homeopathy and whooping cough.
(This article was in the public area and linked to the following material: http://vaccinationdilemma.com/whooping-cough-australian-children-how-many-were-vaccinated – It is now in the private members area)
What do you think? Are these paragraphs misleading and deceptive? Do they warrant fast-tracking in the Federal Court? What does it mean when a government body breaches the terms and conditions of a private members’ area? How does material, no longer on a website, mislead and deceive people today? Should people have the right to freely access alternative health information?
These and many more questions are waiting to be answered.
In the meantime I would like to send a very warm “thank you” to all who have offered support. The week has been extraordinarily hectic and I have been unable to reply to many of you, something I hope to rectify during the next few days. Please know that your words of encouragement and well-wishes have meant a lot.
I will keep you informed about this affair as it progresses.
Homeopath and Director of Homeopathy Plus