Answer of  Diethelm Pascal to via regarding Clive Bates

Dear All,

It seems to me a be displaced that this forum should become a court of justice. It feels a bit odd that it should be used to investigate a potential criminal offense charge against our colleague Manfred.

 What is he accused of? If I understand, he has stated that “Briefe von Gerry Stimson and Clive Bates an Gesundheitsminister in der EU sind konzertierte Aktionen, hinter denen massive Geschäftsinteressen stehen,” which translates to “Letters from Gerry Stimson and Clive Bates to EU health ministers are concerted actions, backed by massive business interests”. I read this statement as saying that the action taken by Stimson and Bates is backed by massive business interests, i.e. that massive business interests are at stake in the issue (which is true) and form a background against which to interpret their action.

 Is this defamatory? In Austria, from where the statement has been made, most likely not: this would fall within the realm of freedom of expression. In Austria, saying that some action is “backed by the tobacco industry” is not considered defamatory (and I doubt it would be in the UK either) – I personally wished this would be the case, and it would indeed be a formidable development if a court ruled that saying that someone is “backed by the tobacco industry” is defamatory. However, the industry would immediately appeal, arguing that it is a legal business, and that there is nothing wrong being backed by a legal business.

Finally, I disagree with the proposed rule that FCA be open to debate on harm reduction coming from “all sides of the issue” – given that the harm reduction debate has been largely hijacked by the tobacco industry, notably its fake FSFW,  such rule would wide open the gates to the industry Trojan horse, and for my part, I would apply 5.3 and stop participating in the FCA debates. And sorry, but I’m far from convinced about the rigorous aspect on Clive Bate’s blog. I don’t think that name calling, invectives, WHO hatred, and constant attempts to saw the seeds of division in the tobacco control movement qualify as rigorous science.