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The HPCSA vs Professor Noakes: Not guilty!

This is a quick update for those of you who have been following the Professor Tim Noakes prosecution. The verdict was delivered today and, pop the champagne, Tim was found not guilty!

The key twitter exchange

Just as a reminder, this was the key tweet and reply (one of tens of replies):

On 3 Feb 2014, someone called Pippa Leenstra, who tweets as @pippaleenstra, Pippa J Styling (she’s a fashion stylist) tweeted: “@ProfTimNoakes @SalCreed is LCHF eating OK for breastfeeding mums? Worried about all the dairy + cauliflower = wind for babies??” (Please note: @SalCreed is Sally-Ann Creed, a co-author of The Real Meal Revolution with ProfTN).

On 5 Feb 2014, Tim tweeted: “@pippaleenstra @SalCreed Baby doesn’t eat the dairy and cauliflower. Just very healthy high fat breast milk. Key is to ween baby onto LCHF

The charge

The charge if you remember was (and this is exactly as written):
THAT you are guilty of unprofessional conduct, or conduct which, which when regard is had to your profession is unprofessional, in that during February 2014, you acted in a manner that is not in accordance with the norms and standards of your profession in that you provided unconventional advice on breastfeeding babies on social networks (tweet).”

Further reading & watching

The case has been covered in three newsletters so far: the background to the case, the tweet, the charge and the first two hearings; Tim’s evidence and cross-examination; and the evidence from what became known as Tim’s Angels.

Here’s a video recorded in private at the February 2017 Breckenridge conference, which has just been posted openly today. It’s my (light-hearted) look at the whole case and what the prosecution needed to show and what the trial was really about. If you’ve got half an hour, this will tell you everything you need to know about the nutrition trial of the century. (The slides are available below the video).

The verdict (21 April 2017)

I am trying to get a copy of the judgement. In the meantime, thanks to some brilliant tweeting by @MarikaSboros today (tweeting live from the court room), these appear to be some of the key points made:

– We cannot assume that people on twitter are ignorant and vulnerable. There was no sign that Pippa Leenstra was either of these.

– The HPCSA, in closing arguments, tried to claim that the case was about infant nutrition only. (This was important for them to keep out all the testimony about dietary guidelines and the nutrition of our populations.) The ruling rejected this, which opened the door to all the evidence given by Tim and the Angels.

– Unconventional (as in advice) does not mean unprofessional per se.

– The moment that the following was stated by Chair Joan Adams, as tweeted by Marika, we knew that the game was over for the HPCSA: “There was no evidence of a doctor-patient relationship.” As I explain in the video, without a doctor patient relationship, there can be no misconduct.

– The onus is on the HPCSA to prove its case. On the balance of probability it has not.

Marika described the Chair as “scathing” in describing the HPCSA prosecution as “Antiquated at best not in keeping with constitution, information explosion on social media.”

It should be noted that the panel was not unanimous. The original six person panel had become five after one of the panel secured a senior position with the HPCSA! (Yes – at that point we were a tad worried!) Dr Liddle dissented with the verdict and thought that the HPCSA had proven its case. Dr Liddle was sat closest to Tim’s Angels in the court room and shared our 85% chocolate on occasions! He was more often seen tucking into the jelly beans in bowls all around us. He is diabetic and I thought he, of all the panel, would have been fascinated in, and convinced by, the evidence for low carbohydrate diets for diabetes. This was apparently not the case. Dr Liddle seemed a really lovely man. He was softly spoken and an attentive panel member (albeit with some sugar lows, which he mentioned when reaching for another jelly bean) and I respect his opinion and contribution to the panel. I’m just delighted that the other four panel members disagreed with him!

The South African press have started to pick up the case already – here’s the first post that we spotted.

The HPCSA has 21 days to appeal. Dr Ajay Bhoopchand, the chief prosecutor said that the HPCSA would be “magnanimous in defeat” – hopefully a sign that no appeal is planned and that this case can finally be considered closed for Professor Tim Noakes, his delightful wife, and rock, Marilyn and his formidable legal team: Adam Pike, Rocky (Ravin) Ramdass and Mike Van der Nest.

Huge congratulations to all and well done to Professor Noakes for taking the opportunity to put LCHF on trial when the easy road was there for the taking. Real food takes its hat off to you sir.

10 thoughts on “The HPCSA vs Professor Noakes: Not guilty!

  • I also appreciate Prof. Noakes and I am glad for him!
    And I thank you very much for brilliantly introducing me to the large public, but still, I guess banging my head on the table it’s quite tragic, indeed, thank you for your subtle observation. I didn’t know I was a subject of laughter, though.

    Yours truly,
    Romanian Orphan

  • The full HPCSA judgment is presented in this article:

    After the introduction, we can find:
    (There are no headlines, therefore I provide search strings.)

    A ten point summary of the judgment – Use this search string:
    In a summary

    The judgment by Dr Liddle – Use this search string:
    In his minority

    The full judgment – Use this search string:
    This Committee is bound

    Thank you Zoë for fighting for the Light Side.

    • Hi Molle – many thanks for this – really useful :-)
      Best wishes – Zoe
      p.s. search Doctor Google too – funny!

  • I’m amazed Prof Noakes was found not guilty. It is of course the absolutely correct verdict but despite not believing in conspiracy theories, I honestly thought that in this insane world of dietary advice the “powers that be” would want to effectively silence him and perhaps more importantly, others of his ilk. I am therefore amazed and relieved that he was exonerated.

    But what of the “dieticians”? I know that one day they’ll come to realise how ignorant they were in peddling the dietary nonsense that the majority of them do, but in the meantime will they simply carry on? Or maybe they’ll consider a career switch into say helping alcoholics overcome their alcohol addiction by advising them to, “drink moderately” or maybe helping drug addicts by advising them to only abuse drugs “moderately”?

    I only recently read the tweet that Prof Noakes sent and I’m appalled and embarrassed for the “dietician” who reported him and the HPCSA which hounded him. Not only was the tweet completely innocuous but made absolute common and dietary sense. Might as well report someone for saying that the sun rises in the east and sets in the west.

    Regardless of the lack of merit in the prosecution’s case, I’m sure the entire ordeal took some toll on Prof Noakes and his family. The prosecution wanted to gag Prof Noakes and in turn destroy his professional life. I hope Prof Noakes’ lawyers sue.

    • have you noticed how, on TV, all the diets are STILL low fat. There’s a woman on Kyknet Groot Ontbyt every monday who has recipes from Cooking from the Heart and it’s basically 90% carbs. Almost no salt, she’s always got some schpiel about lemon juice and spices which compensate for the lack of salt. And there’s one on the same show who is besotted with paprika and raw honey – also no butter or milk or any such and hardly any meat, but chicken – she calls herself a “lifestyle chef”. Why is the press still adamant about low fat, if Noakes has been vindicated in full and we who went onto keto got the blood numbers to prove it. I believe there’s a conspiracy to salad us to death.

  • Congrats Zoe. I believe your testimony, along with the others angels, was critical to the verdict. I believe your testimony carried more weight because it’s more statistical science based.

  • Wonderful!

    There is (a little) justice and common sense in the world!

  • Fabulous news! (Though any other verdict would have been a travesty.) Can the Prof sue them for – well, all sorts?

    Thank you for your comprehensive reporting of a case that should never have been brought.

    • Hi JC
      I hope so! During closing arguments, Tim’s side raised costs and the chair said that this was outside her remit. Her criticisms of the HPCSA today may have gone far enough for the prof to go for costs. Why shouldn’t he? He did nothing wrong – as you say – this should never have happened – why should a decent man lose a couple of million rand because of a spiteful dietician?!
      Best wishes – Zoe

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