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The royal college of quackery
Craig Aaen Stockdale
18 Jan 2011

“The College of Medicine” is, by any stretch of the imagination, an impressive name for an organisation. A title almost as impressive as their address at 19 Buckingham Street in central London, a property near Charing Cross recently valued at half a million quid. With a title like that, and a corporate HQ like that, you’d expect anybody to be impressed.

And that’s mainly the point.

Because the College of Medicine, launched in October in a blaze of pomp and circumstance, is neither a college, nor a place particularly associated with the practice of medicine (as we understand it). Rather it seems to simply be the same alternative medicine lobbying organisation that brought such disrepute to Prince Charles earlier this year, except this time, his name isn’t quite so prominently attached to it.

When it was registered in May 2010, the name of the College of Medicine was the College of Integrated Health. The eyebrow-raisingly, similarly-named Prince’s Foundation for Integrated Health, about which I have blogged previously, imploded in a puff of accountancy only a month earlier in April 2010. Having failed to submit their 2008 accounts on time, accusations of fraud in the order of £300,000 were made and arrests followed. When their 2008 accounts were submitted, they revealed a £430,000 deficit, a deluge of resignations from the board and a £150,000 black hole in their bottom line. It turned out that this black hole had been temporarily filled by alternative medicine peddler Nelson’s (the chairman of which, Robert Wilson, was a trustee of the Foundation). Nelson’s has a long and ignoble history with Prince Charles. They bottle the Prince’s organically grown herbal “tinctures”. You know, those ones that the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) reluctantly agreed don’t work.

Police eventually charged the charity’s finance director, George Gray, with theft totalling £253,000, and the Foundation for Integrated Health dissolved, claiming it had succeeded in its mission to bring alternative medicine to the masses.

Only it clearly hadn’t, because the College of Medicine sprang up disturbingly quickly in its place.

The “scientific” (I use the word loosely from here on) council and governing council of the College of Medicine are a rogues gallery of quacks and sycophants, many of whom were associated with the Prince’s disgraced Foundation: acupuncture and homeopathy proponents Hugh Macpherson and Catherine Zollman; Dr. Peter Fisher, the Queen’s homeopathic physician and head of the London Homeopathic Hospital (recently re-branded the Royal London Hospital for Integrated Medicine); and bizarrely, some character called Angie Buxton-King, a spiritual healer with a sideline in “beacons of healing light” or something equally inane.

The College also features representatives from the School of Medicine at the University of Buckingham, including NHS-bashing, credentials-massaging Prof. Karol Sikora, and Prof. Andrew Miles, who seems to have a low opinion of what constitutes “evidence”. The University of Buckingham’s school of “medicine” (which isn’t really an accredited medical school as such) employs faculty who don’t respect peer-review and the school once offered a diploma in quackery. You can get away with this sort of stuff when you’re a private university.

The College features representatives from the British Chiropractic Association, the same people who unsuccessfully sued science writer Simon Singh for saying that evidence for the efficacy of their bone-cracking antics was thin on the ground.

But where is the Prince in all this? Charles’ support for alternative medicine is widely documented. In the recent past the Prince has dirtied his hands personally lobbying the relevant ministers and writing secret letters to the MHRA. But the Prince has clearly learned caution after the fall of his Foundation. When asked about the College by alternative medicine campaigner Prof. David Colquhoun, the Office of Their Royal Highnesses the Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall declined to make any comment referring him only to College director Dr. Michael Dixon. However, there are reasons to suspect the Prince is heavily involved.

Four of the new College’s directors are former fellows or directors of the Foundation for Integrated Health: Michael Dixon, the medical director of the Prince’s Foundation; George Lewith, who runs a complementary medicine unit at Southampton University; David Peters, the chairman of the British Holistic Medical Association; and Christine Glover, a holistic health consultant.

Even before the “College” had been properly named, the staff already seemed confident that the Prince would be the one to officially launch it. Colquhoun is of the opinion that the new organisation is simply “the Prince of Wales by stealth”, an opinion seemingly shared by Nigel Hawkes writing in the British Medical Journal who called it “Hamlet without the Prince”. If the College can afford a half-a-million central London pad then they clearly have some serious money to throw around. The activities of this “College” require close monitoring by anybody concerned about the Prince’s pervasive presence and pernicious pressure.

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This entry was posted on Tuesday, January 18th, 2011 at 9:24 am and is filed under Charity, Politicians, Prince Charles. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Comments are now closed.

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30 responses so far > Add your own

  1. Jim Lipscombe

    The Princes involvement in and support of homeopathy is a big blow to his fellow fellows of the Royal Society who must wonder what they did to deserve to have such a buffon in their ranks (or wonder what he did to deserve a place for that matter).
    It’s called alternative medicine because it is an alternative to medicine; once a treatment has been scientifically and clinically proven it is called medicine. The name of this ‘college’ is misleading and because of its royal seal of approval, it has the potential to compound public thinking with regards to quackery; if the future King says it is so, it must be so!

  2. cbrunstrom

    Excellent expose…

    Yet another reason why the Royal Family’s exemption from FOI legislation is so scandalous.

    Of course, wealthy crackpots are free to throw their money away on bizarre quackery in any way they see fit. But civil list recipients who claim to be public servants need some light shone on their strange activities.

    Charles clearly thinks that being a royal makes him an expert on medicine. But the whole culture of royalty encourages such surreal delusions. The Chancellor of Cambridge University is (arguably) the most senior academic in Britain. He’s also Prince Philip. Does this make Prince Philip Britain’s most distinguished academic?

    As long as we defer to royals and admit the principle that being a royal qualifies someone to be the president of scientific and cultural bodies then we are helping to fund quackery and absurdity of all kinds.

    No jokes now – if Prince Charles’ influence has helped to establish an institution that will distract people from genuine medical treatment – then Charles’ influence will help to kill people. Quackery kills. Charles sponsors quackery. Royalism inevitably produces people like Charles – who are used to being deferred to and are permitted to give concrete and well funded expression to their delusions.

  3. The Woggler

    If Charles Windsor gets his way – and who’s going to stop him once he’s king? – real medicine will become alternative medicine, whilst bullshit ‘remedies’ like homeopathic sugar pills will be the norm.

    http://www.quackometer.net/blog/2010/12/the-new-age-medicine-of-prince-charles.html

  4. Bob Wiggin

    I watched John Pilger’s ‘The War You Don’t See’ yesterday that I had recorded earlier in the year. After watching that I was extremely depressed, and reading this expose of ‘The College of Medicine’ has done nothing to lighten the mood. Nothing surprises me any more about the establishment or the royals shenanigans, and it’s a terrible shame the people can’t wake from their propaganda induced stupor.

  5. Stuart

    Hey Bob, there was very little in the the war you don’t see that I didn’t already suspect. But I share your sentiments that such things and “crown” tomfoolery are excessively depressing.

  6. Phaedra

    Oh, same old. The utter pretence of these people is excruciating. Contrary to popular belief, Charles has not done a day’s public service, outside of his acting career, in his life. Being chauffered to and from various locations by Rolls Royce and ‘appearing’ is not working. Eating is not working. Limply waving and fiddling with his cuffs and pointing is not working. ‘Inspecting’ is not working. Dressing up in various uniforms is not working. Making smalltalk with actors is not working. Knighting people is not working. Lending his name to ventures managed and maintained by an army of others is not working. Being ‘patron’ of innumerable organisations and charities that a host of other people are spending their lives running – and being installed as the captain of a barge for five minutes, surrounded by advisors, do not qualify either.

    Consequently when he attaches himself to various projects, the manoeuvre pivots on trying to carve out a veneer of relevance for himself. Apologists seize selectively on his attempts at vaguely tapping into the ‘green’ zeitgeist and his notions of town planning and immediately annoint him with the title of ‘far-sighted’, ‘prescient’ or, even more bizarrely ‘ the voice of the people’.

    Like his father, he has spent his entire life desperately attempting to legitimise the unearned wealth and privileges he claims as birthright.

    Those with wacky (legal) schemes are perfectly entitled to fund them. The truth is that those who think, via a medieval throwback and through having brass necks, that they can live off the rest of us and surreptitiously run the show in perpetuity, do not perhaps dare reveal the extent of their activities, which is why they are protected by an army of the similarly interested who exempt them from proper scrutiny.

  7. cbrunstrom

    Phaedra,

    This isn’t just “busy doing nothing”. This is not just the usual tiresome “non work”. This is Charles using his money and influence to do some real harm. If people resort to this sort of prestigious quackery rather than real medical treatment then they may die.

  8. Phaedra

    @cbrunstrom

    I would stop short of announcing that Charles is doing some ‘real harm’. Unless I have misread it, nothing here appears to link him conclusively with the new venture, even if a large rat can be smelled. It could be argued that the entire holistic medicine set-up is ‘harmful’, since some people put their faith in it, rather than orthodoxy and could perish doing so.

    If Charles is involved – and he might be – the only issue for us surely is if public money is being used, that and the inability to discover it because of FOI exemptions. Nothing says that Charles thinks that “…being a royal makes him an expert on medicine”. Equally nobody thinks that “Prince Philip [is] Britain’s most distinguished academic.”

    Royals as presidents of scientific bodies, or chancellors is of course risible and not worth the vellum it is illuminated on. These false appointments do however, reduce in value the endeavour of those who are worthy of holding these offices – much like the wearing of the unearned medals.

    In any event, if Charles keels over, following one free lunch too many, perhaps someone will ring for an aromatherapist and see just how committed he is!

  9. cbrunstrom

    Whether or not Charles is associated with this new venture (and he probably is), his high profile support for largely discredited and unregulated alternatives to medicine is certainly harmful. This institute is clearly calling itself “royal” in the hope of sounding approved and official.

    Of course, nobody rationally believes that Phil is Britain’s supreme academic – but he still gets to wear the costume and have real professors bow and scrape (literally) to him. Phil doesn’t even have a BA degree, so Phil enthroned in academic splendour offers, as far as I can see, a pretty degrading spectacle.

  10. Phaedra

    Sorry Conrad, where does call itself ‘royal’?

  11. cbrunstrom

    You’re right it doesn’t… Perhaps it was the address in “Buckingham St” that subliminally put “royal” in my head… and maybe in other people’s heads as well.

  12. Phaedra

    @cb. The whole set up with this guy is one of overweening self-importance – more often than not disguised as languid, self-effacement when on public display. He presents with an over use of almost comedic facial expression; his vocabulary is limited to utterly neutral phrases, but his manner conceals someone who is desperate to exercise power and to be seen to do so.

    I also think you are right. The almost subliminal use of ‘royal’, as a signifier within a specific lexicon, along with other associated signs and symbols, blurs the boundaries where these people are concerned in peoples’ minds, and gives them a relevance which exists separately from any form of reality. The ‘royal’ language of place; street names, memorials, buildings and institutions – even towns and boroughs – is a powerful, enveloping backdrop.

  13. Broga

    I would guess that when Charles, a man of overweening vanity, requires serious medical treatment he will be at the head of the queue for treatment by a foremost clinician. He adds hypocrisy to his other defects of character.

  14. Dr. Nancy Malik

    Real is scientific homeopathy. It cures even when Conventional Allopathic Medicine (CAM) fails. Evidence-based modern homeopathy is a nano-medicine bringing big results for everyone

  15. Broga

    Dr Nancy Malik.

    +Evidence-based modern homeopathy is a nano-medicine bringing big results for everyone.+

    Sorry for my ignorance but I don’t know what this means. However, I would be fascinated to find out.

  16. The lard ascending

    Broga, let me translate-

    It’s bollocks.

  17. Broga

    The lard ascending:

    I thought as much but thank you for the confirmation.

  18. drugs r us

    I strongly suspect this entire blog has been organised by people selling drugs. Anti-monarchists are not even that thick are they? The homoeopathic and allopathic hospitals in central london were adjacent in historic times. 80% of people entering the Homoeopathic hospital came out and from the Allopathic hospital, 80% did not.
    The world is flat – drugs cure and dont kill -ha ha ha!
    Financially the drugs companies do not like people looking after themselves or the reality of immunisation programmes being exposed. They may not be able to have the quantity of personal luxuries they have been used to over the last thirty/forty years. They probably had shares in DDT, 245T in the old days too.Come on – we know whats not good for us – most of the stuff your selling! Homoeopathy IS AMAZING ask 3000 vetless sheep!!!

  19. The lard ascending

    You misjudge us ‘Anti-monarchists’. On the contrary, I think if Prince Charles is unfortunate enough to develop, say, prostate cancer, most republicans would argue for a homoeopathic solution–perhaps Chimaphilla–or sitting on magnets. Above all, he should certainly be denied access to that silly old boring conventional medicine. Paf! What good has that ever done?

  20. The lard ascending

    @drugs r us

    ‘….The homoeopathic and allopathic hospitals in central london were adjacent in historic times. 80% of people entering the Homoeopathic hospital came out and from the Allopathic hospital, 80% did not….’

    ‘in historic times’ …nice and vague -when? And for what illnesses? Can you be more specific? Actually, ‘in historic times’ is the only place homoeopathy belongs. It’s the only place people could take it seriously.

    If you’re referring to Dr. Frederick Quin’s Homoeopathic hospital in London, the first British Homoeopathic hospital, we’re in the mid 19th C. Conventional medicine itself is still in it’s swaddling clothes…….even sexual reproduction (and indeed asexual reproduction) is imperfectly understood.

    The celebrated instance of the 1854 cholera outbreak, where Quin had better results than the conventional hospital, was explained I think by Quin’s use of camphor
    (though there are plenty of other potential contributory factors) Now, the medicinal properties of camphor had been known for centuries before the arrival of
    Hahnemann & Homoeopathy. So Quin got one over. Good on ‘im. But I fail to see how this is any argument for or credit to homoeopathy. Indeed, I can’t see how camphor can be worked into a homoeopathic ‘narrative’ of ‘like treats like’ at all

    Yes, greedy avaricious drug companies in league with big business are a terrible thing. But don’t conflate conventional medicine with them. Most people’s experience of conventional medicine is positive. Satisfaction levels in Britain with the care from your doctor is the highest it’s ever been. And the drugs do work. I myself have had recent reason to get down on my knees and thank the blessed Edward Parac for painkillers.

    Enough already.

  21. Conrad Brunstrom

    I’m thinking that people attend a Homeopathic hospital when their symptoms are mild and transfer to conventional medicine once it’s too late. Anyone working in the hospital system will tell you that the best hospitals – the ones with the real tools and talents – are also the ones with the highest fatality rates – because they take on the most desperate cases.

    People don’t die in homeopathic hospitals for this reason.

  22. Broga

    I think Charles’ mummy is a homeopathy fan. She has a footman, or similar low paid serf, to carry her phials of homeopathic pseudo cures around with her.

  23. Martin G

    Not sure what the Homeopathy fans are saying here….

    On the one hand, we have greedy, capitalist, “don’t give two hoots about the patient”, multi-billion dollar companies fleecing the public.

    On the other hand, we have quacks selling bottled water as medicine fleecing the public.

  24. Craig Aaen-Stockdale

    Well, if the best defense that the pro-homeopathy lobby can muster amounts to unsupported assertations that it REALLY ACTUALLY DOES work (Malik) and conspiracy-theory nonsense (drugs r us) about how I am an Evil Pawn of the Big Pharma global mafia, then I think my work here is done.

    Thank you for all the (mainly) supportive comments. And long live the Republic.

    Craig

    PS – I sometimes really wish I was being paid by Big Pharma to write damning exposes of these charlatans. I have a mortgage too, you know.

  25. The lard ascending

    Funny thing on the sainted Nancy ‘Real is scientific homeopathy’ Malik here-

    http://hawk-handsaw.blogspot.com/2010/08/dr-nancy-malik-is-spamming-my-blog.html

    Gave me a giggle.

  26. Craig Aaen-Stockdale

    Thanks for posting that, Lard. I’ve been having a bit more of a dig on t’internet and can happily report that “Dr.” Nancy Malik is nothing of the sort, being simply a homeopathy apologist with a dodgy Bachelors in quackery and a serious grudge. Apparently she spends 24 hours a day, 7 days a week spamming medical and scientific blogs instead of, I don’t know, doing medicine. Since she frequently cites journal articles that a moment’s reading will show don’t support homeopathy (or have nothing to do with it) as being supportive of homeopathy, its clear that she doesn’t understand (or hasn’t read) the papers she is citing.

    This is Dr. Craig Aaen-Stockdale (BSc, PhD) signing out.

  27. The lard ascending

    Good on yer Craig.

    The Royal Family and Homoeopathy both work at virtually undetectable levels.

  28. cbrunstrom

    Homeopathy is a self perpetuating racket.
    Homeopathy is fiercely resistent to external scrutiny.
    Homeopathy defies basic empirical testing.
    Homeopathy only survives as long as people believe in it, like fairies in Peter Pan.
    Homeopathy thrives on vague emotional rhetoric rather than clear transparent reasoning.

    Monarchism. See above.

  29. The lard ascending

    The evidence for homeopathy is very thin. Which is good, as it means the evidence for homeopathy must be very strong.

  30. Broga

    Homeopathy claims that substances become more powerful the more they are diluted. With boneheaded support from the Windsors and with Charles leading the charge this quackery has infiltrated the NHS. “The principles of homeopathy were devised by Samuel Hahnemann (1755 – 1843) a German physician who believed chronic diseases were manifestations of a suppressed itch.” I am quoting from Damian Thompson’s excellent COUNTER KNOWLEDGE p100. Here is another quote from Thompson who says the enthusiasm for homeopathy owes much to the support of the Royal Family.

    “The current Prince of Wales has founded a charity, the Prince’s Foundation for Integrated Health, which tells the public that homeopathy ‘is used to treat chronic conditions such as asthma, eczma, arthritis,fatigue disorders like ME, headache and migraine, menstrual and menopausal problems, irritable bowel syndrome, Crohne’s disease, allergies, repeated ear, nose and throat infactions or urine infections, depression and anxiety.’” p102.

    One more quote from Michael Baum, professor emeritus of surgery at University College, London: “Homeopathy is to medecine what astrology is to astronomy. It’s witchcraft – totally barmy, totally refuted, and yet it’s available on the NHS.”

    This pestilential fantasy is pushed by Charles Windsor who, despite being an obvious fruitcake, makes a nuisance of himself to politicians and others who think they must respond seriously. This dope is determined to be the next king of the UK; this sad clown is the father of William who has no doubt had the same same daft ideas rammed down his throat.

    How much more evidence is needed that the Windsors are a nuisance, bores, a distraction from what should be the serious business of running this country.

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