Hands Off The Lancet
RESPONSE TO THE COMPLAINT TO REED ELSEVIER, PUBLISHERS OF THE LANCET, BY PROFESSOR SIR MARK PEPYS AND 395 COLLEAGUES
In this public response to the smear campaign and personal attacks on Richard Horton, The Lancet Editor-in-Chief, Lancet Complaint to Reed Elsevier, we assert:-
1. Richard Horton is highly regarded as an exceptional leader in global health and as a campaigning Editor of The Lancet in the best traditions of the Journal.
2. Politics is intrinsic to many health issues and a legitimate
subject for health commentary and debate, especially in the world’s
leading global health journal. Controversy is an inevitable and healthy
aspect of public discourse on political issues.
3. The “Open letter to the people of Gaza” addressed an important
topical issue, the main points of which have been substantiated by
subsequent, independent, reports of what happened in the Gaza Strip in
the summer of 2014, of which it is possible that some of the
complainants are unaware.
4. To describe the Open letter as ”stereotypical extremist hate propaganda” is inaccurate and unhelpful hyperbole.
5. The Lancet provided equal coverage of views for and
against the letter in subsequent published correspondence, reflecting
the ratio of letters received by the Journal and allowing a healthy
debate to take place.
6. The Lancet Ombudsman’s review of the issue was balanced
and fair, highlighting the strengths and weaknesses of the letter and
how the controversy was handled, for all to see. She was not persuaded
that the letter should be retracted.
7. The Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) is best placed to judge
whether its Code of Conduct and Best Practice Guidelines have been
breached. A previous Chair of COPE has written that the Open letter
should not be retracted.
8. The heavy-handed attempt to force The Lancet to withdraw
the Open letter is the latest in a series of attempts to stifle media
coverage of the Israel-Palestine issue and should be resisted.
9. In the light of reports by Physicians for Human Rights-Israel,
Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, the United Nations and
others, the “unfinished business” of Operation Protective Edge is to
determine whether and by whom, from either side of the conflict,
violations of international human rights and humanitarian law were