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UK Law Commissioner Threatens Criminal Action Against Vaccine Critics

Penney Lewisby John Stone

According to  a Sunday Telegraph report a newly appointed UK law commissioner, Prof Penney Lewis,  is considering whether the government should criminalize  posting vaccine critical information on Social Media. Lewis, who is of US origin, was appointed last August soon after the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, spoke of clamping down on vaccine criticism on social media. The report states:

"In her first interview since taking up the role, Prof Penney Lewis revealed she is considering whether laws should be amended to “lower the threshold” for posting false information online that endangers lives."

The issue is fraught with ambiguity because well-researched opinion can often conflict with government dogma. As I wrote in  a letter 'An appeal to authority is not the sake as an appeal to knowledge' to BMJ on-line last year:

"I read the article by Martin McKee and John Middleton... with dismay, and ask what sense there can be in the fundamental attitude that all opinion favorable to vaccine products is correct (apparently by virtue of being favorable) and all opinion unfavorable to vaccine products malicious. The world they describe is very far from one I am familiar with. In the world I see people share bona fide information on-line, obtained from official sources, scientific articles, Patient Information Leaflets etc. And by ordinary standards they have a right: these are materials which belong in the public domain. I have never encountered anything on the web which plausibly could be identified as state misinformation or espionage about vaccine (it may occur in some territory of cyberspace which I have never visited): what we are talking about by and large is material which is well sourced, but not necessarily favorable to the industry and its apologists. Most troubling is that it is impossible to verify McKee and Middleton's claims that people are spreading false information, let alone deliberately. As with anything there must be some level of error but I am very far from sure that this is the main problem: what I see is people pasting and linking to materials of genuine concern, and which is not being addressed by our governments or officials. However much they may want to marginalise such data under the rubric "the benefits greatly outweigh the risks" or even the grandiose "vaccines are safe" a lot of it is not trivial..."

I added in a subsequent letter: "One thing I would point out here is how slippery are such terms as “disinformation” and “misinformation”, shifting the issue of whether something is true or not (which is complex) to whether it is politically convenient". We are always being told that information is "misinformation", which is no better than Orwellian doublespeak. As Heidi Larson  of the vaccine Confidence Project argued at the WHO vaccine safety conference in December 2019 (last session around 1.35)

"There's nothing illegal about these questions but they see doubt...but the challenge for some of these tech companies and even for others who are trying to clean up the misinformation our problem is as we have heard in the last 48 hours that there's not anything a 100% and what actually legally without creating a censorship thing can we absolutely say this is misinformation because we have a lot of ambiguity in the safety field and we have to come to terms with that..."

Also relevant is the letter of a United Nations official David Kaye on the subject of censorship in his letter to David Zuckerberg (1 May 2019):

"For background, it is my responsibility as the UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of opinion and expression, under Human Rights Council resolution 34/18, to evaluate how governments, non-state actors and companies protect and promote everyone’s right to seek, receive and impart information and ideas worldwide. I report to the UN Human Rights Council and the General Assembly, conduct official country missions, and communicate regularly with governments, civil society and private industry. Digital rights lie at the center of much of this work, with my formal reporting to the UN often focusing on the obligations of governments to ensure protection of rights online and the concomitant responsibilities of companies...Even though Facebook does not make laws, the general principles of legality should nevertheless guide Facebook’s development of its rules and policies. In the context of its response to vaccine misinformation, for example, these principles would at least require Facebook to provide more information about how it defines “vaccine misinformation,” the processes it has developed for flagging such content, and the types of consultations it conducted in developing these measures and with whom it consulted. These are also the kinds of considerations that the Board, to provide genuine oversight, should be equipped to assess in reviewing appeals of content decisions. "

It is my submission that people,  politicians, officials, journalists, academics and often even scientists who complain about vaccine "misinformation" on-line avoid addressing the detail and substance of what is being posted on Facebook (which actually Larson has not done), and on the rare occasions where they do they get it hopelessly wrong. I append my own article from last May.

WHO Is Misinforming?: British Politician Makes A Fool Of Himself Attacking Social Media

John Ashworth
Jon Ashworth

By John Stone

"Jonathan Ashworth in his one specific example of social media misinformation has almost certainly misunderstood what he is reading. The cases he was reading about were almost certainly in the US where the Hep B vaccine is administered on the day of birth. Given that he himself seems horrified by the idea should not people be allowed to talk about it?"

(My comment in The Times, London)

Jonathan Ashworth, British Labour Party Spokesman on Health and Social Care, finds the idea of vaccinating an infant on the day of birth repugnant. He wrote in a Times of London editorial yesterday:

"The anti-vaccination content I’ve been able to find on Facebook in just a matter of minutes has been eye-opening. There appears to be a deep distrust in these closed groups of both the medical community and governments.

"I’ve found posts from terrified parents asking for advice on how to make sure their newborn babies aren’t taken away from them shortly after birth to be vaccinated.

"Other posts completely misinform the public about the science behind vaccinations. It’s why Tom Watson has called for a legally enforceable duty of care to be placed on these firms backed by hefty fines."

It is of course impossible know whether the other posts he read and felt challenged by were genuinely misinforming or whether he was just briefed to find them so, but in this instance what is almost certainly being referred to is the US practice of administering the Hepatis B vaccine to infants at birth, and it is quite interesting that he finds the idea - this does not happen in British hospitals - repugnant.

On a similar note I wrote to André Spicer, professor of organisational behaviour, Cass Business School (University of London)

Prof Andre Spicer

about his article last Friday in the Guardian(so far no reply):

Dear Prof Spicer,

I checked out this paper by Chiou and Tucker you linked to in your Guardian article yesterday

https://www.oxy.edu/sites/default/files/assets/Economics/Chiou/chiou_and_tucker_fake_news.pdf

The nearest that they ever get to providing evidence of “fake news” p.8-9 fig 2, is saying a website misrepresented an article by exaggerating an associated risk of vaccines with neurological-psychological disorders. It doesn’t reproduce the “fake news” article and doesn’t link to the study they say has been misrepresented (which is also not in the bibliography) and has not as far as I can see been misrepresented at all (if I have identified it correctly). It contains very troubling information.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5244035/#!po=65.3846

 They also cite Beatrice Lorenzin as a credible source (p.9) who in 2015 told Italians that 270 children had died in London in a recent measles outbreak (a bare-faced invention/lie).

https://www.bmj.com/content/362/bmj.k3596/rr-6

So, no single piece of evidence of “fake news”, just algorithms for classifying possibly inconvenient data and fair comment as fake. I commented on the risks of this to the DCMS committee inquiry into Fake News. 

http://data.parliament.uk/writtenevidence/committeeevidence.svc/evidencedocument/digital-culture-media-and-sport-committee/fake-news/written/73097.html

http://data.parliament.uk/writtenevidence/committeeevidence.svc/evidencedocument/digital-culture-media-and-sport-committee/fake-news/written/73097.html

If this is the best they (Chiou & Tucker) can do there is a problem. They haven’t documented any misinformation at all, and the rest, frankly, is ad hominem. 

Sincerely,

John Stone

Spicer is the recent author of a volume called Business Bullshit.

John Stone is UK and European Editor of Age of Autism

Comments

Morag

Slapping a gagging order on a medical procedure with a risk assessment failure is not achievable in reality in the Uk .
The 1974 Health and Safety at work Act has the cap badge authority to get that type of negligence doctored at source ,online or off it.
Identical template of behaviour to circumnavigate existing legislation re assisted dying .euthanasia situation .
See CARIAD - NCBI Study By M Poolman Same attempts to "Lower the threshold standards " for terminal conditions and terminal illness .
Despite, Dr Harold Shipman murders ,
Despite , The Panel Report -20 June 2018 , www.gosportpanel.indepen.gov.uk>panel report
Despite The Liverpool care pathway being banned in 2014 ?
Despite 80 % of Dr's voting against assisted dying bill in recent BMA study
Despite the assisted suicide and voluntary euthanasia Bill being totally regected in Parliament ,
The Bill was defeated by 118 votes to 330 on 11 Sept 2015

See Book The Peter principle By Laurence J Peter

Angus Files

Thanks Carol
How they complain not because the boys died but just that there is alternative information away from the Pharma slow death health info.

https://www.msnbc.com/stephanie-ruhle/watch/boy-dies-after-anti-vaxxers-urge-mom-not-to-give-him-tamiflu-78307909791

Pharma For Prison

MMR RIP

Carol

Just saw on MSNBC Stephanie Ruhle and a journalist discussing whether or not a mom could be prosecuted for sharing on Facebook her child's adverse reaction to Tamiflu.

John Stone

“It is expected that the Home Office will publish codes for taking down terrorist content and internet child abuse before summer, with other possible online harms including self-harm material, violence, harassment and disinformation that causes public alarm, such as anti-vaccine propaganda,”

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-7972791/Facebook-Google-bosses-held-liable-online-harm-including-terror-child-abuse.html?

Morag

Oh really, imagine that! "Balance of Harms " too subjective ? seeks a "new speak" narrative ?
New Speak Health and Social care leadership seeks new "Buzz Word " terminology with different definitions of perceived harms of constructive apprasial of vaccine risk assessment standards ?
Different definitions/ labels tend to be used in different contects . eg The Two Ronnies "fork handles" comedy sketch is a good example of terminology definitions "Shape Shifting!" using a spade or a shovel ?
Is the consideration /perception to lower the threshold standard for constructive criticism of vaccine health and safety risk assessments considerations apersonal/professional/political /or organisational pet project ?
Other project involvement /influence includes

Carer- AD ministration of as -needed subcutanious medication for breakthrough symptoms in homebased dying patients { CARIAD} Study protocol for a UK -based open randomised piolet trial .
Kings College London Research Portal
and available to read online

www.demos .co.uk >files {pdf]
The current legal status of assisted dying is...Demos By Professor Penney Lewis and Isra Black

Study identifies traininig deficiency emergency/crisis as needs to resit it's examination module on how to spot the difference between a terminal condition and a terminal illness!

Hans Scholl

Penney Lewis - Would you start by locking up Jamel ?


Holley’s stance on vaccines not winning friends in Assembly, Conaway says
By Nikita Biryukov, February 03 2020 2:50 pm

Assemblyman Herb Conaway suggested Assemblyman Jamel Holley’s opposition to a bill eliminating a religious vaccination exemption wasn’t winning him any friends in the legislature’s lower chamber.

“You said that, not me. But you’d be right,” said Conaway, who chairs the Assembly Health Committee.

Holley has been the vaccine bill’s chief opponent in the Assembly.

He lobbied members of the Legislative Black Caucus against an amended version of the bill that lawmakers aimed to pass the day before the end of the lame duck session. That bill failed to win enough support in the Senate.

Last week, prominent anti-vaccine activist Robert Kennedy held a fundraiser for Holley and met with members of the LBC to discuss anti-vaxx arguments.

It’s not yet clear whether Holley’s opposition to the vaccine bill will affect his chances at re-election, but a dissatisfied leadership team could complicate the contest.

“Well, let me just say that it is unusual for someone to come out against the held and demonstrated stance of the presiding officer in his house and the majority of the members in the house of which he serves,” Conaway said. “As to re-election, I have no comment on that, but I would just say his actions are rare. I wouldn’t say they’re unprecedented, but they are rare.”

Any real challenge would come during a primary.

annie

As Offit likes to quip, “there is no vaccine for autism”. So I guess I can say that a lack of vaccination has nothing to do with the fact that none of my children are autistic? Bring it!!!!!!! Being afraid of a lack of resources is how they keep us down sir John! #imwithgrace

Jenny Allan

John - It was madness to put an economist in charge of the health portfolio. Hancock himself was angling for the job of Chancellor of the Exchequor at the last reshuffle. I think he has blown that. I enjoyed seeing him squirm on breakfast TV this morning, under close questioning over his handling of the corona virus in the UK.

Of course the same can be said about Professor Penney Lewis. There's NOTHING in her Bio about qualifications in medicine, life or even the social sciences, yet she has for years been involved in advising the UK governments about medical ethics. Like Hancock she must rely on 'expert' advisers. In the UK that means pro vaccine conflicted people like Pollock and even Witty. Dealing with the Corona virus involves at least a working knowledge of microbiology, with preferred specialist knowledge in virology. I don't see too much of that in our UK Government

John Stone

Jenny

Yes, but while Hancock was put down over compulsory vaccination Johnson did himself express an interest in censoring “antivax mumbo-jumbo”. I’d be delighted to believe the skids were under Hancock (the re-shuffle is a couple of weeks away) but I am not sure what difference it would make: I would be amazed if anyone of great human sympathy emerged, the whole of the British state is so locked into the needs of pharma and GSK in particular.

Jenny Allan

@ John Stone "Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, was slapped down twice over mandates, once by May, once by Johnson "

Matt Hancock has been less than impressive regarding the UK Government's response to the Corona virus. He was absent from tonight's ITV news report . Instead someone from Public Health England was left to explain why the latest advice to British tourists and residents in China was to come home. Oh dear. They can't quarantine them all, but those who were recently airlifted out of Wuhan were transported to their UK isolation premises in buses all masked, but the bus drivers refused to wear masks.
UK Universities have thousands of Chinese students. Two from York Uni, recently returned from China, have been confirmed with the virus. No travel restrictions on these persons.

Magpie

If Prof Penney Lewis wants to censor "false information online that endangers lives," she should consider this single example of accepted, respectable science being wrong.

"Fentanyl, Inc." by Ben Westhoff recounts how doctors came to "know" that opioids couldn't cause addiction. What caused them to begin prescribing opioids with abandon whereas before they hadn't because they thought they would cause addiction? A letter was published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 1980 written by Dr. Hershel Jick. He and a grad student had examined thousands of cases, finding only 4 cases of addiction. The fine print was they had looked only at patients receiving small doses, not patients being sent home with prescription.

Here's the point: This letter was cited by 600 studies as well as being used in sales pitches.

This was the social media dark ages compared to now, but too bad people couldn't have discussed this on the internet and possibly awoken the white-coat herd to the damage being done with what they thought they knew, only because it had been repeated so many times by perceived authority.

annie

Seems to be trending:

https://mobile.twitter.com/Karisma/status/1224692835225522178

https://mobile.twitter.com/krystalball/status/1224718935167205376


https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=2507629512828408&id=1598725510385484&fs=0&focus_composer=0

Shelley Tzorfas

A newly appointed UK Law Commisioner is considering whether to create laws making it against the law to post about vaccine impurities or scandals and harm. This seems to be governmental Censorship. How a professor could possibly create new laws condemning people who would speak out is how we lost 11 million people in Nazi Germany where the climate of hate and prejudice overtook many nations and where the government first quietly extinguished lawyers and judges so that illegal laws could be passed and effectively removed those the government deemed as undesirable. If freedom of speech is deemed undesirable again, there is no end in sight as to the ramifications. Where are all the law schools, students and once open minded professors? Where are the educated journalists? In the US the MAJORITY-54% of kids are now Chronically ill?
Who actually makes the aluminum, crushed into powder that would shoot citizens insuring that there would be irreparable harm? Who supplies that Aluminum or Cancer causing Formaldehyde where now 1 in 285 little children are having Cancer epidemics. Who actually crushes the peanut oil where so many have had Anaphylactic shock, epidemic-pens and deaths? Who takes the aborted fetal cell DNA and splices it with chemicals to shoot innocent people? Who takes care of young adults who got 30 seizures a day since their 105 F fevers from the day of being shot? The arthritis, Lupus, Paralysis, those without speech? We must be the voice for those who cannot speak and those who would lose their jobs, homes, and families if they Do Speak?

Go Trump

With the recent Brexit / the UK is once again a Free Country.

Except of course for Vaccines.

John Stone

Jonathan

One thing that happened last year was that the Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, was slapped down twice over mandates, once by May, once by Johnson - a lot of the running has been made by Hancock and NHS boss Simon Stevens (a historic friend of Johnson) and I was in correspondence over their blasé attitude to free speech in BMJ RR last year, meanwhile Johnson dismisses vaccine criticism or concern about introducing US food standards as “mumbo jumbo” (no one’s called him out for racism on that yet), but it is not so much that he’s naturally nasty as that he’s got Dominic Cummings as his business manager (just as Blair had Alistair Campbell). But also perhaps because of the prospect of Brexit the government were strenuously building new links with pharma in late 2017 as I recorded in my second submission to the Fake News inquiry.

The good news is that government have said we are not going to get the EU Copyright Reform Directive.

Hans Scholl

kcl.academia.edu › PenneyLewis
Penney Lewis | King's College London - Academia.edu
Penney Lewis, King's College London, Dickson Poon School of Law, Faculty Member. Studies End of life care, Human Dignity, and Eugenics.

kclmedicalethicsandlaw.wordpress.com › author › penneylewis › page
Penney Lewis | KCL Medical Ethics and Law | Page 67
Read all of the posts by Penney Lewis on KCL Medical Ethics and Law. ... How do we draw the line between eugenics and doing the best for the unborn child?

books.google.co.uk › books
Issues in Human Rights Protection of Intellectually Disabled ...
Andreas Dimopoulos - 2016 - ‎Law
'expanding eugenics or Improving Health care in china: commentary on the Provisions ... concepts: How to Interpret the e.c.H.R.' [2004] eJIl 279. lewis, Penney.

kclmedicalethicsandlaw.wordpress.com › tag › page
TV | KCL Medical Ethics and Law | Page 3
Posts about TV written by Penney Lewis. ... a storm of criticism in the US. Is Project Prevention little more than eugenics dressed up in a cloak of compassion?”.

And then there is a an hour long recording on YouTube. It keeps cropping up .

Angus Files

All it takes is the would be- abused to call the Police and say they have been offended.The PC Police will go and ask the offender questions concerning posts.They put the case forward to the procurator fiscal to decide if charges should be brought.Many innocent people are in jail in the UK just now just because the Police have charged them with hate etc crime via posts on the internet.All because the Goverments have created this climate of offending by internet.The cops dont investigate or stand up for the law they stand up for what goverments want them to stand up for.

.

Thought crime is here.

Pharma For Prison

MMR RIP

Jonathan Rose

Of course, John, this is extremely dangerous and worrisome. Once you give the government power to censor "misinformation", they will of course define "misinformation" as anything that embarrasses the government, and will use that power to jail their critics (as well as the critics of their big donors). I sense that underneath his jokey, clever exterior, Boris Johnson is extremely ruthless: note how he purged anti-Brexit MPs from his party. But on our issue the Labour Party is no better. It's very discouraging.

John Stone

Grace

I don’t know that ordinary citizens can any longer afford to defend themselves in British courts.

John

Greg Hill

If they truly wanted to protect the public from misinformation, the first thing they would have to do is delete from the internet every and any post that claims, "the science is settled," that "all vaccines are safe and effective," or that "vaccines do not cause autism." Orwell's "Big Brother" is apparently taking control of the government not just in the United States but in so-called "democracies" around the world.

Carol

This is richly ironic, considering that corporations seem never to be held criminally responsible for the harms they do to individuals. The only penalties are civil, and even those don't exist for vaccines.

Bill

All the news out of the Iowa Caucuses so far is that there's NO NEWS yet, because the process is so screwed up....That's actually more relevant here than it might at first appear.... And I'll have more to say later today on this topic....

Grace Green

Bring it on! The "offenders" would have to be prosecuted in court, where they would have the chance to argue their case. Who will be my witness? John?

John Stone

Bob

I am not very clear on the scope of what Prof Lewis is considering - it may actually be quite narrow but we have to be on our guard

John

Bob Moffit

The threat to "criminalize" the opinions and comments of those who disagree with newly appointed UK law commissioner, Prof Penney Lewis, would be an act that reeks of sheer desperation to restrain by FORCE those whose LEGITIMATE questions regarding the "safety and efficiency" of vaccines are effectively eroding mandatory compliance goals. If Prof Lewis' position the "science is settled" and there are far more benefits to vaccines than risks had the FACTS on her side … she would not be resorting to FORCE in order to regain the public's dwindling trust.

Indeed, "criminalizing" having opinions that disagree with AUTHORITIES on vaccines … is the LAST REFUGE OF A GOVERNMENT THAT .. AS SIMON AND GARFUNKEL ONCE SANG … SEES THE HANDWRITING ON THE TENEMENT WALLS

It is as true today as it has been throughout history … the more desperate public health authorities become .. censorship and criminalization already being employed or contemplated … the more encouraged and galvanized those being OPPRESSED BECOME.

Pogo

The French newspaper Le Monde printed an article along a similar vain a few years back.
The French government want to ensure that the only conspiracy theories permitted will be ‘official’ conspiracy theories! This is a response by an academic that studies the subject. Its rather a long read but it puts this dangerous nonsense into context.
“Social Science’s Conspiracy-Theory Panic: Now They Want to Cure Everyone”
https://philpapers.org/archive/BASSSC.pdf
Also coming under Government attack in the US are the sciences and YouTube videos that are helping to explain ‘scientifically’ why the climate is constantly changing. This is an eye-opener for anyone that just gets the news from the Main Stream Media. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bl4cQKKudjM Because of my science background, I have always gone and read, the actual science papers, rather than let ‘Science Commentators’ kid me about what the science says.

susan welch

Excellent, John, as always. Thank you,.

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