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ss triple helix - Easter 2011,  Christian GP removed from drug advisory committee

Christian GP removed from drug advisory committee

Hired then fired for being 'controversial'

Christian GP removed from drug advisory committee Hired then fired for being 'controversial'

As a GP working with patients with drug problems, CMF member Hans-Christian Raabe was appointed in January to the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD). On 7 February, before he had attended any meetings in the unpaid 3-year post, the Home Office announced he had been dismissed after it emerged he had previously co-written a study linking homosexuality to paedophilia. (1)

There are two separate issues of major concern. First, the ACMD is already controversial, some of its scientist members having unwisely crossed the line into pronouncements on public policy. Its chairman, Professor David Nutt, resigned two years ago over the government's decision to reclassify cannabis from a class C drug to class B, and was followed by other members. He chose to re-enter the policy arena to criticise Dr Raabe's appointment, saying it was 'deeply worrying' that he could support total abstinence when there was 'a vast body of evidence in favour of harm reduction. (2) Surely a committee which merely advises government should be allowed a range of views, and would benefit from a member who actually treats patients?

However, more serious than an abstinence/harm reduction spat is that sources said the sacking was for not 'disclosing' during interviews a paper he had co-written, which had linked homosexuality to child sex offences. The campaign to remove him gained momentum after former Liberal Democrat MP Evan Harris blogged (3) about his past publications, BBC home editor Mark Easton highlighted the case (4) and the British Medical Journal published 'New appointment of evangelical Christian to advisory body sparks controversy', (5) provoking some interesting responses. (6) Dr Raabe himself commented that his dismissal resulted from views which were 'completely unrelated to drug policy', adding 'I have been discriminated against because of my opinions and beliefs, which are in keeping with the teaching of the major churches'. (7)

Perhaps most ironic of all, in a medical world where both clinical and public policy decisions are supposed to be evidence based, the data Dr Raabe and colleagues gave for linking homosexuality and paedophilia were actually derived from peer-reviewed scientific journal articles, including one quoted approvingly by the Home Office itself. (8)

References
  1. Gay row government drugs adviser GP Raabe sacked. BBC News 7 February 2011.
  2. Ibid
  3. Harris E. What is happening to our expert advisory committees? Guardian blog.
  4. Easton M. Another ACMD member threatens to quit. BBC News 20 January 2011.
  5. Dyer C. BMJ 31 January 2011;342:doi:10.1136/bmj.d624
  6. tinyurl.com/5vng2tq
  7. Saunders P. In sacking Dr Raabe, the Home Office has demonstrated intolerance, cowardice, and ignorance. CMF blog.
  8. Ibid
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