The Times newspaper in Britain, has apologized to five scientists over articles that suggesting research they did into e-cigarettes was funded by tobacco companies. According to the Guardian the five had intended to sue the paper. It quoted one of the five, David Nutt saying, “The battle to reduce harm from tobacco is gradually being won, but it is being fought against commercial interests and ideologues like those who were behind these articles”.

The word on social media is that public health academics opposed to e-cigarettes were behind the stories. This may or may not be the case but the quote from David Nutt seems to support it. Certainly the public health lobby gets considerable funding from governments to run quit smoking campaigns. If people use e-cigarettes this funding and sales of a variety of quit smoking aids would be threatened.

Regular readers will know that I support the use of e-cigarettes as they are 95% less harmful than regular cigarettes and can help smokers quit. Their ban in Australia seems to reflect ideology rather than science.

At the recent tobacco control conference sponsored by the WHO media were banned. Remember all the people there were paid for by taxpayers. Yet they refused to allow those who paid for their travel and accommodation to know what they were doing.

You can form your own conclusions.

Meanwhile Tasmanian Orthopaedic surgeon Gary Fettke has testified at a senate inquiry. The Mercury reports he was subjected to systemic bullying and harassment and a prolonged and vexatious AHPRA investigation. All this because he dared to suggest patients might consider reducing carbohydrate in their diets and going onto a lower carb higher fat regime. For his efforts in helping people he is no longer allowed to talk about nutrition. The hearings were held behind closed doors.

He has been told he cannot talk about nutrition to his patients as it is “outside his scope of practice”. He deals with many patients with diabetes and advises them about diet and he advises overweight patients facing joint replacement surgery about weight. Weight management is part of his practice.

Diet is a factor in many diseases and a factor, which influences health. Thus any doctor is entirely correct in discussing this with patients. The notion from the regulator that, as a doctor, it is outside his scope of practice is extraordinary. This decision is generating discussion online here and overseas. Doctors from USA, UK and other countries have been stunned.

My post last month about the paleo diet and its promotion by Pete Evans not being “dangerous” has led to me being castigated on a facebook page. Some call it a hate page. In football parlance they certainly play the man not the ball. Personally I don’t care what they say about me.

The Federal court threw out the vexatious claim against three university students brought under 18C. The case took three years to come to trial. Without pro bono legal assistance they would have had to pay go away money to settle the case. It has now emerged that another student paid $5000 in go away money, as he did not have the money to hire lawyers.

Had The Australian newspaper not publicised the case these other three may also have been extorted out of money. A vexatious complaint made against cartoonist Bill Leak has now been dropped. Yet the stress caused to him cannot be just “dropped”. The complainant who allegedly answered, “yes “ to the question “How would you like this case settled” faces no downside. She has not had to pay one cent and can pull out on a whim.

Attacks on free speech are ramping up. Anyone questioning conventional thinking, risks a vexatious complaint being made to unaccountable government agencies whose funding relies on finding ever more complaints.

Vested interests want to silence critics and avoid questions. They do not want debate. They want to shut down any view they don’t like. Our role is to be increasingly questioning and to hold the unaccountable to account. The fight for our freedom of thought and speech is ramping up.