Homeopath sues skeptical blogger

By Keir Liddle

Australian skeptic Dan Buzzard is the latest blogger to find himself on the end of a quacks attempts to silence criticism.

Homeopath Francine Scrayen has called in the lawyers to hit Dan with a cease and desist order relating to two posts published on his blog:

The two posts in question can be found here and here. They detail the horrific and tragic case of Penelope Dingle who sadly passed away from rectal cancer in 2005. Scrayen, who has been described by the Australian coroner as “not a competent health professional” and “with minimal understanding of relevant health issues” treated her with a number of alternative treatments. Scrayen herself is reported as saying in the coroners report that:

“she had completed a first aid course with St John Ambulance Service, she stated that it was a “very basic” course and that her understanding of medical issues was relatively poor”

This is a person who is claiming to have the ability to cure cancer whose medical knowledge is limited to that of a very basic first aid course!

Scrayens records show detailed accounts of Penelopes symptoms but contain very little information on the treatments prescribed and advice given. It also details an excessive amount of contact between Scrayen and the deceased which the coroner states:

In my view the number and extent of these contacts was grossly excessive for any legitimate professional interaction and provided evidence of an increasing unhealthy dependence of the deceased on Mrs Scrayen and her homeopathic remedies and treatments.

But most shockingly Scrayen advised Dingle not to undergo any conventional therapies as “a psychic of extremely high calibre” had informed her that a patient would come to her with cancer who would “completely commit to you to be cured using classical homeopathy alone”. According to a heart breaking letter from Penelope to Scrayen this psychic had told her:

“You would treat this patient and cure them of cancer. In this way, classical homeopathy would be recognised and its cause advanced in Australia. You told me that I was this patient.”

This psychics premonition seems to have lead to Scrayen recording rectal bleeding but not advising medical intervention for a period beginning in October 2001 and stretching to the 11th of November 2002. Believing it not to be a serious symptom of a serious disease but rather, with all her medical training and expertise, a recurrence of haemorrhoids.

If the coroners report makes for uncomfortable reading The letter written from Penelope to Scrayen is simply painful as it outlines the immense pain and degradation Penelope suffered at the hands of Scrayen and her “treatments”. Refusing pain medication at the homeopaths urging and being encouraged to reject all other treatments (conventional and alternative) as she believed “classical homeopathy” would cure her. Seduced by false hope and the promise of a cure the letter accounts all manner of ridiculous and unproven “treatment” all of which were completely ineffective. The letter also details the horrific damage done when one is so under the spell of a practitioner of alt. med. that they completely reject conventional treatment.

Perhaps most shockingly of all is Scrayens treatment of Penelope after it became clear that her prescriptions were failing terribly. She refused repeated requests to speak with Penelope or her family, tried to get them to sign an indemnity refuting her of any blame and even sent Penelope a card in which she stated that she was “upset” that Penelope, entirely justifiably, was angry with her.

As Dan says at the end of one of his posts on the subject:

Francine Scrayen who is not a medical professional killed her victim by selling bogus treatment in place of legitimate medicine.

We are happy to spread that message far and wide and hope that other bloggers, tweeters and commentators will do similarly.

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0 Responses to Homeopath sues skeptical blogger

  1. Rhys Morgan says:

    I hope Dan tells them to fuck off.

  2. Ambidexter says:

    A quack kills someone and the lawyers don’t want the word spread around. Has anyone explained the Streisand effect to these people?

  3. Ethan Siegel says:

    It isn’t slander, it isn’t libel, and it isn’t defamation if it’s all 100% true!

  4. Liz Ditz says:

    As I often do, I’m keeping a list. Dan Buzzard Writes the Facts; Francine Scrayen Threatens with the Law. I’ve added this post.

  5. Liz Ditz says:

    I think you have an error in your post

    This psychics premonition seems to have lead to Scrayen recording rectal bleeding but not advising medical intervention for a period beginning in October 2001 and stretching to the 11th of November 2011.

    I think the endpoint of Scrayen’s treatment of Dingle was October 2003. The last contact from Scrayen to Dingle was (I believe) the card referenced in Dingle’s two letters to Scrayen, which was sent sometime after October 2003 but before March 27 2004.

  6. Michael MacKay says:

    Liz: I think the November 2002 date is correct. Scrayen’s misfeasance falls into two categories. The first is ignoring the rectal bleeding, and not telling Penelope Dingle to see a proper doctor. This went until November 2002 or thereabouts. Once Penelope saw a real doctor, she was quickly diagnosed with rectal cancer. However, from April 2003 or so, she refused surgery, relying solely on Scrayen’s homeopathic “remedies” and some alternative diet stuff, until she had to undergo emergency surgery to avoid imminent death in October 2003, by which time the cancer had spread so it was untreatable.

  7. This kind of blogging is something you should be supporting, in my opinion.
    The Australian courts did NOT rule that she was killed. The State Coroner said in the link at http://au.news.yahoo.com/thewest/a/-/breaking/13310801/woman-sues-homeopath-over-sisters-cancer-death/:

    ‘Mr Hope said that while Dr Dingle had been an active participant in his wife’s decision-making “ultimately the decisions were those of the deceased. The deceased paid a terrible price for poor decision-making.”‘

    That was the final judgment in the case – and now there’s a new court case, it’s up to the system to work out if there are any changes to that ruling.
    I can understand why this has now resulted in legal proceedings, as you cannot make blog-post judgments like that without the potential ramifications – as Simon Singh discovered. Posting a title saying that “X killed Y” is absolutely within the realm of legal lashback. It’s up to the courts, not bloggers.

  8. Alex Wassall says:

    I have to disagree with Kylie Sturgess, Scrayen’s actions amount to defrauding someone who was in a vulnerable state of mind due to a terminal illness.

    Scrayen lied about the efficacy of the homeopathy in treating cancer and advised the patent against sensible medicine; these facts are not in dispute. It is the same principal as a fraudster tricking pensioners out of their savings.

    Scrayen played an active part in Penelope’s decision and is responsible for its outcome. I think its the moral responsibility of people who understand the danger in this fraud to stand up and be counted.

    Despite the legal wranglings Scrayen’s misfeasance is quite clear.

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