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 Jonathan Gornall, Munchausen Man

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John Stone Posted - 12/05/2006 : 14:03:34

In a succesion of articles, the defence of the Government's fabricated illness orthodoxy and the reputations of its leading proponents Sir Roy Meadow and Prof David Southall, has fallen to the hands of journalist Jonathan Gornall. Gornall is a curious figure, best known for his failed attempt to row across the Atlantic a couple of years ago, and his raffish, not very pleasant, and recently terminated Times column: Microwave Man.


Two articles on the Meadow case appeared in The Times last year (30 March, 24 June), followed by pieces in Hospital Doctor, The Guardian:


and BMJ:

'Royal College rewrites Child Protaction History':


'How doctors' anonymity in family courts is under threat':


'Was message of sudden infant death study misleading?'


Whether Gornall is the man you would want to defend you reputation is an open question. Clearly he is a senior journalist of a sort, however, if a report in the Independent is to be believed his own career at The Times seems to have drawn to a close under a cloud of embarrassment earlier this year.


Normally speaking this sort of tittle-tattle would not interest me. What is bothersome about Gornall's contribution to the Munchausen debate is that it does not seem hugely principled. Responding to his article 'How doctors' anonymity in the family courts is under threat' I twice felt forced to challenge him regarding what point he was making:


"Re: Author's reply 21 November 2006

"Jonathan Gornall writes:

""Small wonder that John Stone, despite reading my piece three times, has failed to "pinpoint any argument in favour of expert anonymity and court secrecy" in my article. There isn't one. That was not what the article was about, as I suspect he well knows."

"Well, if so, it amounts to a defence of secrecy by ad hominem attack - beginning with the way Sarah Harman dresses. And challenged by me Gornall fails once again to produce an argument. There is surely no argument: if the evidence cannot bear scrutiny then it should not be given. At least for once the Government seem to be on the side of transparency and accountability. Presumably, Gornall is lobbying for the status quo, but cannot do any better."

He did not return to answer this.

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Aasa Posted - 10/13/2014 : 07:36:59
The BMJ ruined any interesting interaction I ever had with any of their articles when they limited their postings to people who had hospital/university access. I could have still accessed BMJ while my sons were at University , but that sort of access becomes difficult, when your kids aren't around when you want to access the articles. All those passwords, and such,...
Aasa Posted - 10/13/2014 : 07:19:52
Hello John,
It has been some time since I have visited this site. I am glad to see that you are still at it, trying to get others to do the right thing, as difficult as that can be, at times. I haven't read all of the postings here, yet, but the thought of doctors having any sort of anonymity and court secrecy does not seem right. I am not sure whether you celebrate Thanksgiving in the UK, but I would like to extend best wishes to you and your family at this time of year, when we celebrate our harvests in Canada and think about what/who we are thankful for. You are a "one in a million" sort of person for all you do, and have done in the past. May the force be with you!
All the best,
John Stone Posted - 12/14/2006 : 08:05:40
The continuing correspondence to Gornall's latest piece can be read here:


The key letter regarding the validity of Gornall's claims is from Richard Webster. Richard Wilson alleges that there are co-authors (the interests of Sir Roy Meadow and David Southall are closely associated). Reference to the vaccine issue and infant death can be found in the letters of Michael Innis, John Heptonstall and Hilary Butler.

Gornall responded to some of the criticisms yesterday in a smoke and mirrors performance which disguises real lack of substance. It speaks volumes that the defence of so much dodgy science has now fallen to someone who elsewhere styles himself "Bridget Jones's sleazier, older brother". Gornall cannot have it both ways: he cannot be professionally sleazy and hold the moral high ground at the same time. BMJ should hang their heads in shame. This is an insult to so many families.

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