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Damning Doll - Pots and Kettles

injurywatch has found a series of secret payments from environmental polluters to the leading Oxford University cancer researcher Sir Richard Doll may have compromised his integrity. By shaping the epidemiological evidence to fit the requirements of his paymasters and failing to stimulate adequate health warnings, Doll's paid-for "evidence" may have protected his proven paymasters in the chemical and asbestos industries and led to the premature deaths of millions of people worldwide. Injury watch Aims and principles

Injurywatch aims to counter the myth that a "compensation culture" exists in Britain today and to presses for the rights of victims to receive the compensation due to them. We campaign against business practices intended to rip-off claimants wherever we find them. We strongly oppose the culture of delay, obfuscation and legal challenge which we believe insurance companies are using in a cynical attempt to limit their liabilities to pay valid claims, particularly to asbestos victims. At the same time we deplore the behaviour of claims handlers who promise no-win-no-fee agreements but dip into compensation rightfully due to the claimant if the case is successful.

All sounds very noble - but who is "injurywatch"? Who is the "secret paymaster" behind them. I haven't been able to find out from their website. They obviously work with solicitors - who presumably pay them for leads, but nowhere, that I can see is this disclosed. The website declares it is Copyright © 2000-2006 Watch Media.

A quick WHOIS Query on the domain reveals the unhelpful information:

Registrant: injurywatch.co.uk
Trading as: Legalwatch Ltd
Registrant type: UK Individual
Registrant's address: The registrant is a non-trading individual who has opted to have their address omitted from the WHOIS service.

(Companies House reveals that Legalwatch ltd is a recent company incorporated 24/7/2006 - that trades from the same address as injurywatch.)

So still no nearer as to who pays for injurywatch's extensive services! It looks like the Groan merely reprinted a PR puff from an organisation funded by an anonymous bunch of compensation solicitors who might be thought to have a declarable interest - though I might be wrong! And the accusation is that Sir Richard Doll took money from an anonymous bunch of companies who might be thought to have a declarable interest - though they might be wrong!

Comments

Isn't it a breach of Nominet's terms and conditions to opt out of the Whois database by claiming to be a non-trading individual when you are in fact an organisation, and one which is trading?

FWIW you only had to ask. The original Doll piece was written by Rory O'Neill and me. Rory edits Hazards magazine (http://www.hazards.org)and the Risks newsletter and has been writing about Sir Richard for several years and particularly about the effects of his reports. I edit injurywatch.

Watch Media is a media production company which makes money from researching and producing for radio, television and newpapers, usually but not always around hazards and health and safety issues. We found a legitimate story and published and broadcast it, both ourselves and through others. That's what we do.

Wouldn't you be better getting mad about the facts:

Doll had a secret financial relationship with Turner and Newall, the asbestos producer, which lasted more than thrity years. When a TV documentary sensationally revealed the dangers of asbestos in 1981 the company sent Sir Richard Doll around its factories to assure its workers that they were "quite safe."

In 2006, after five years in administration during which many sufferers died, compensation was agreed for Turner and Newall victims. Some would get as little as 20p in the pound of what compensation was awarded to them.

The Doll Peto report, published in 1981, has shaped epidemiological thinking for 35 years because it suggested cancer was a more of a lifestyle issue (from smoking or what you eat) than an environmental issue- ie caused by chemicals or pollution. Prior to Doll Peto, even the Chemical Manufacturers Association accepted 20% of cancers were likely to result from exposure to environmental factors such as pollutants. Doll Peto set this figure at 4%.

This effectively readjusted the focus away from dealing with workplace issues such as better ventilation or containment preventing exposure to hazardous substances such as vinyl chloride, on to seeking cures.

The error of this is reflected in the so-called Staveley Cluster, after the small town location near Chesterfield of the vinyl chloride plant Vinatex jointly owned by Staveley Chemicals and US giant Conoco, later Dow, which polluted its workers and people living around the plant for years.

Research by the local Trade Union Safety Council, using risk maps and accounts from bereaved relatives shows that of the roughly 280 people who worked at Vinatex during its 15-year history almost 50% are now dead.

Doll's financial relationship with the chemical companies was not disclosed until he was compelled to do so in a vinyl chloride case, Ross v Dow, in the USA in 2001.

Full details to the background can be obtained at
injurywatch

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