‘They want to de­stroy Tim Noakes’

Health body is­sues ‘guilty’ ver­dict

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - FRONT PAGE - YAZEED KAMALDIEN

PRO­FES­SOR Tim Noakes is the sub­ject of a vendetta by the Health Pro­fes­sions Coun­cil of South Africa, which wants to de­stroy his ca­reer, his lawyer has claimed.

This comes af­ter the coun­cil is­sued a state­ment yes­ter­day say­ing Noakes was guilty of un­pro­fes­sional con­duct.

The state­ment sent af­ter con­clu­sion of the coun­cil’s hear­ing this week on al­le­ga­tions Noakes gave “un­con­ven­tional” and “dan­ger­ous” med­i­cal ad­vice about breastfeeding on Twit­ter.

Hours later, how­ever, af­ter re­leas­ing the guilty ver­dict state­ment, the coun­cil is­sued a re­trac­tion and an apol­ogy, but by then the “ver­dict” had gone vi­ral.

“The pre­vi­ous state­ment is re­tracted and we apol­o­gise for in­cor­rectly stat­ing that Prof Tim Noakes was found guilty by the pro­fes­sional con­duct com­mit­tee,” read the state­ment from the coun­cil.

The Noakes in­quiry is, in fact, set to con­clude in April .

Adam Pike, an at­tor­ney for Noakes, re­acted an­grily to the ini­tial state­ment. “This is de­lib­er­ate. It’s an in­tent to de­stroy the rep­u­ta­tion of one of South Africa’s great­est scientists.

“It’s symp­to­matic of how the mat­ter has been run. This is so ir­reg­u­lar and so in­cor­rect on so many lev­els.

“There’s a per­sonal vendetta and I don’t know where it comes from.”

Pike also at­tacked what he said was the coun­cil’s lack of pro­fes­sion­al­ism. “The coun­cil is a reg­u­la­tor of the pro­fes­sion. They have failed in their duty.”

The statu­tory body reg­u­lates health work­ers.

If it finds Noakes guilty, his li­cence could be re­voked.

Week­end Ar­gus yes­ter­day con­tacted Noakes via his of­fice, and his per­sonal as­sis­tant, Me­gan Loft­house, said the coun­cil wanted to dis­credit the pro­fes­sor. “I don’t know why they would even do that (send out the in­cor­rect state­ment) un­less it was to fur­ther in­crim­i­nate him on a to­tally un­jus­ti­fied mat­ter. It’s just to­tally in­cor­rect.

“Our feel­ing is that the hear­ing went very well in our favour but ob­vi­ously we can’t say yet what the com­mit­tee will de­cide.”

Noakes re­ferred all queries to Pike.

Coun­cil spokes­woman Daph­ney Chuma said the PR depart­ment was to blame for the “guilty” ver­dict yes­ter­day. “The mis­take is at­trib­uted to the PR depart­ment. It’s not our le­gal team.”

It ap­peared from Chuma’s com­ments the coun­cil had pre­pared the guilty ver­dict state­ment and was pre­pared to send it out when the hear­ing con­cludes.

“There was no com­mu­ni­ca­tion break­down. We sent a wrong state­ment. It was is­sued by my­self,” said Chuma.

The ini­tial state­ment opened with the line: “Pro­fes­sor Tim Noakes, a pro­fes­sor at the Univer­sity of Cape Town, was found guilty of un­pro­fes­sional con­duct.

“This is af­ter he pro­vided un­con­ven­tional ad­vice on breastfeeding babies on so­cial me­dia which was not in ac­cor­dance with the norms and stan­dards of his pro­fes­sion.

“Pro­fes­sor Noakes tes­ti­fied and called all of his wit­nesses in de­fence of his case. The wit­nesses were cross-ex­am­ined.”

The coun­cil said fur­ther it “now closed its case and there are no fur­ther wit­nesses to be called”.

The coun­cil said pro­ceed­ings had been ad­journed un­til April 4 and 5.

“The only out­stand­ing is­sue is that of ar­gu­ment of the mat­ter. The mat­ter will then be ar­gued be­fore the (pro­fes­sional con­duct) com­mit­tee, which will then de­lib­er­ate on the is­sue and come to a de­ci­sion be­tween April 6 to 7.

“A judg­ment/ver­dict on the mat­ter will be is­sued on Fri­day, April 21, 2017 by the com­mit­tee.”

Noakes was ac­cused of giv­ing “un­con­ven­tional” and “dan­ger­ous” med­i­cal ad­vice in Fe­bru­ary 2014 af­ter a woman had asked him on so­cial me­dia whether he’d rec­om­mend a low-carb, high-fat diet to breast-feed­ing moth­ers.

Noakes said his an­swer – that the breast milk would be very healthy – had ini­tially been deemed as po­ten­tially “deadly”.

Pro­fes­sor Tim Noakes

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