Australian Homeopath Taken to Court

Last modified on March 18th, 2013

An Australian homeopath faces a day in court for publishing the truth.

An Australian homeopath, Fran Sheffield, is being taken to court by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) for having the temerity to upload a page on her business website, Homeopathy Plus, referencing studies which indicate that the whooping cough vaccine could be less effective than we’ve been told. To make matters even worse, this page also states that people might want to investigate the homeopathic option for disease prevention!

Make no mistake – this action by the ACCC could be seen by some as an attempt by a government department to suppress debate on the vaccination issue. It might also the first step in restricting the practice of homeopathy in Australia – especially when considering this action in combination with the current inquiry (or should that be inquisition?) into natural therapies in Australia.

So much hinges on this case!

If this case were to be lost in the Federal Court, the results could be disastrous for all of us

There is the potential for a precedent to be set whereby the federal government could use a negative decision as a bludgeoning tool to prevent the AVN, health professionals or anyone else from openly discussing information critical of current vaccination policies (or any other natural healthcare option such as chiropractic, naturopathy, herbs, etc.). The internet and the media could then be censored further and people could be left with no option but to use mainstream medical doctors and drug-based therapies even if that would not normally be their first choice.

So though it might appear on the surface that this court case is only concerned with one practitioner in one particular modality, in actuality, this is an important battlefront in the wider war we are currently fighting to protect our rights to free speech and informed choice.

It is vital, therefore, that we join with Fran and Homeopathy Plus in opposing these efforts to tell us what we can and cannot discuss. If we don’t and the case is lost, an extremely dangerous precedent will be set.

A bit of history

Early last year, Ms Sheffield was first contacted by the ACCC because she had an article on her website which discussed the failure of the whooping cough vaccine to prevent an outbreak of whooping cough that has been raging through highly-vaccinated populations worldwide. She also provided information on homeopathic treatment and prevention. The ACCC said that she needed to remove the article or face potential prosecution. At that time, Fran told the ACCC she would remove the article to fact check it but if she found it to be correct, it would go back online. Her contact at the ACCC told her they would be watching and if the same or similar ‘claims’ were reinstated, legal proceedings could commence.

The article was checked, found to be factual and returned to the website in a slightly revised version. Because of ongoing complaints about a range of articles by people seemingly intent on suppressing information about homeopathy, Fran decided to start a private members-only area on her website for any information that could be considered contentious. Those who were interested would still be able to access the information they wanted while those upset by homeopathy would no longer be troubled. This section is where the new article was placed.

In contravention to the terms and conditions of the Homeopathy Plus website which they signed and agreed to, the ACCC entered the member’s area and copied and removed the revised articles and laid charges against Fran, her husband and Homeopathy Plus.

A few things are important to note:

  • The information in the article on the Homeopathy Plus website was correct. It was referenced and it is the same information that can be found on literally hundreds if not thousands of other websites across the internet, in newspapers, scholarly journals, magazines and on television sets.
  • This information was not controversial. It is well-known within the scientific community that the whooping cough vaccine is not working well nor does it protect for long if any protection is conveyed at all. There is evidence which indicates that the current vaccine may make people more susceptible to other bacteria which cause clinically indistinguishable illnesses (b. parapertussis) and that the shot may have caused a more severe form of the disease which is more likely to kill infants and children.
  • It is a fact, based on government figures, that we are seeing higher numbers of cases today with our close to 95% vaccination compliance than we did 50 years ago with very low levels of vaccination. These facts cannot be disputed – they are just not supposed to be told to the public, apparently.
  • The ACCC is not saying that Ms Sheffield or Homeopathy Plus have hurt or defrauded anyone – nor has anyone lodged a complaint to say they have. They are saying that they disagree with what she has said on her website and based on that disagreement, she has to stop saying it. They appear to be claiming that those who make statements the government does not like are not allowed to speak. Think about the implications of this abuse of power for a little while…

In their more recent correspondence with Ms Sheffield, the ACCC stated that according to their opinion, the page on her website which discusses whooping cough:

“…contain[s] representations which convey the impression that the current vaccine is ineffective in protecting against whooping cough and that homeopathic remedies are a safe and effective alternative approach for the prevention and/or treatment, of whooping cough.

“The ACCC considers the above pages to contain potentially misleading and deceptive

statements, which potentially create a false or misleading representation that: the whooping cough vaccine is of a particular standard or quality; and that homeopathic remedies for whooping cough are of a particular standard or quality and/or have a use or benefit.

“Consequently, the ACCC intends to institute proceedings against Homeopathy Plus! Australia Pty Ltd for alleged contraventions of sections 18, 29(1 )(a), 29(1)(b) and 29(1)(g) of the Australian Consumer Law.

“The ACCC will be seeking orders for declarations, injunctions (including an interlocutory injunction), pecuniary penalties and costs.”

Rights? What Rights?

Here, just as with the AVN, we see government departments making politically-charged decisions about what a person can and cannot say about the safety or effectiveness of a drug or vaccine. In other words, because the government supports full vaccination and opposes our right to use alternatives, none of us is allowed to discuss those alternatives without being subject to legal action. But are these really the actions of a properly constituted democracy? Should people living in a free land be afraid to speak their mind about issues they feel passionate about? Does the government really think it is appropriate to censor public debate on health issues? And lastly, should the ACCC which is meant to protect consumers against fraudulent businesses really be involved with protecting the government by revoking the rights of consumers to communicate freely on such a vital issue?

Ms Sheffield is not backing down – but she can’t do this alone!

Ms Sheffield attended court in Sydney on March 1st for a directions hearing. Her seriously ill husband, who is also a respondent in this case, was unable to go due to poor health.

The email notifying of them of the charges arrived late in the afternoon on Wednesday, February 20th, leaving them only 8 days to find representation and prepare. All of the court papers which were served on her were stamped “Fast Tracked” – something which is normally only done in emergency cases such as when a person’s life or health is at risk. Ms Sheffield felt that she was being treated like one of Australia’s Most Wanted for simply stating verifiable information which can be freely found in many locations.

Fran is totally unfunded and, had a barrister not come forward at the last minute to help, she intended to represent herself because she simply couldn’t afford to pay for legal help.

Throughout this process, she has tried hard to work with the ACCC and to take all reasonable steps to ensure that she complied with the law without giving in to restrictive and anti-democratic demands from government operatives. Now however, she has now reached the point where she has been pushed as far as she can go and feels it is time to stand up for her rights and the rights of all Australians.

Will you help?

All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing. Edmund Burke

The court date has been set for August 26th, 2013, but Fran must find and retain a solicitor to instruct the barrister by early this week. In addition, due to the importance of this case for anyone concerned with freedom and rights, Fran is actively seeking the assistance of a QC as part of her legal team. Conservative estimates are that she will need at least $50,000 to pay for legal and court costs – an incredible amount of money in one lump – but not so much if you split it up.

There are at least 600 homeopaths in Australia. Fran isn’t fighting for her company, Homeopathy Plus – she is fighting for the rights of all homeopaths and natural therapies as well as for those who choose to use natural therapies as part of their healthcare options. If every homeopath reading this were to deposit $50 into the fighting fund that has been started – and everyone can afford $50 – that would add up to $30,000 right there! Not a big ask – but a very big result.

There have to be at least that many people reading this who regularly use homeopathy (or other natural therapies which are likewise under threat). And remember, this matter goes well beyond what can and can’t be said by natural therapists but whether we have the right to question government information on vaccines. Can you spare $50 to help protect your right to free expression and choice?

Can every chiropractor, naturopath, osteopath, Bowen therapist, Chinese herbalist (the list goes on and on) donate $50 to this very worthwhile and important cause? Can you do it this week? Can you let your patients, friends and families know and ask them to make a donation as well – no matter how small?

You MUST act today!

Make no mistake: by citing Ms Sheffield for making statements that the government disagrees with, the ACCC appears to be openly saying that Australians are not allowed to dissent from accepted opinion.

Not only that, but if the court decrees that a government department can punish Ms Sheffield for information held in a private, member’s-only section of her website, no association, business or group will be safe. This could set a precedent that can and will affect everyone in Australia. Criticise the government (or the medical cartel or any powerful interest group) at your peril.

This situation is outrageous and not what we expect from a democracy such as Australia. It is time to say “Stop!”

Please send your support today and post this information onto your Facebook pages; Tweet about it; put it up on Pinterest or on other social media sites. Send this to any email lists you may be involved with. Help spread the word in any way you can. Whatever you do, please DO get involved as without your immediate action and assistance … the rights we value will be taken away.

Send what you can – $10, $15, $50, $100 or more to the Fran Sheffield Fighting Fund to stop this dangerous precedent in its tracks.

You can pay in any of the following ways:

FAX your credit card details and the amount you want to give to 02 4044 0153 (international faxes: +612 4044 0153)

Make a paypal payment to fransheffield@homeopathyplus.com.au.

Direct deposit funds into the following designated account – be sure to email Ms Sheffield at fransheffield@homeopathyplus.com.au to let her know about your payment so she can send you a receipt.

Westpac Account: Fighting Fund

BSB: 032 627
Account: 198475

The legal team representing this important issue is still being put together. If you are a solicitor, barrister or Queens Counsel and are as concerned as we are about this case and would like to help, please send an email to Fran at fransheffield@homeopathyplus.com.au

 

Reprinted from with permission from  : Living Wisdom http://nocompulsoryvaccination.com/2013/03/03/wakey-wakey-you-must-take-action-now/

 

Update on this Case

In a few short words: much necessary progress has been made. You will be pleased to know our legal team is largely in place and our defense material on the relative efficacy of vaccines and homeopathy is being collated. Your many offers of support, help and information have gone a long way in making this possible. Thank you.

The case’s hearing date has been set for August 26 and it is expected to run for at least four days. We believe it is a significant case in regard to precedents it may set. Though we are restricted in what we can discuss until the case has been heard, we can tell you it will delve into questions of what can be said about government health policy, and potential alternatives to that policy.

While our preparation for this case is intense, it is also exciting. For the first time we will have the opportunity to present our information in a forum where the evidence will be examined impartially and carefully.

Though the case won’t be heard until August, our affidavit material is to be sent to the Court by May, so there is still much to do. During this time we will continue to keep you informed as much as possible within the constraints of sub judice. We ask for your continued support during this time to ensure the case finishes as strongly as it has started.

In the meantime, a big “thank you” once again to all who have phoned, mailed or emailed with donations to the fighting fund and offers of help and good wishes. Your assistance has been invaluable and we truly appreciate your decision to take a stand with us on this very important matter.

About the author

Meryl Dorey

6 Comments

  • Hello everyone,

    Yes what you have read is really happening! This is a case that has to be defended.

    We are also looking for information from around the world on the use of homeopathy for whooping cough – patient statements about homeopathic treatment for laboratory diagnosed whooping cough, and research (current and past), field studies and local or government implementation of homeopathy for the treatment and prevention of whooping cough.

    We are also looking for expert witnesses in this area. If you think you may be able to help would you please contact us by the email in Meryl’s story.

    Thanking you all,

    Fran Sheffield.

  • I am the Chair for the Gloucestershire Homeopaths Collective and one of my members has kindly suggested that this story would do well on the AVAAZ international platform…? If you’ve done this already great if not it must be worth including this story there.

  • The case should be defended with vigor. Hopefully ACCC will accept the glaring facts in support of Homoeopathy.

    Wishing you success, I remain,
    Asghar Ali

  • Yes, the case has to be defended and Hpathy should set up an account for the survival of Homeopathy in such inimical situations. It’s not a case of an individual, but a scathing attack on the very concept of Homeopathy and its practice. I would request the fraternity to come forward, espouse the cause and offer a joint front. A paltry sum of $10 to $100 is within the reach of every homeopath.

    Wishing Well,
    Avinash Agnihotri

  • I feel strongly that the action of ACCC is unfair. Though I am not a homeopath but I have been on homeo treatment ,when required, and I have no hesitation in acknowledging that I got swift relief in cases of mouth ulcers, injuries , herpes and chronic dysentry. It is unfortunate that that in Australia where they swear by democracy but the case above proves the opposite.
    In India the govt has a department to promote alternative treatments because of cost of allopathic medicine and associated side effects which keep multipying by every change of prescription by the so called specialists. Homeopaths do not claim but assure better chances of relief / cure in case of chronic ailments. Why should Govt agency intervene in such practices which are not fraudulant/defamatory to an individual. God save the world where in the name of democracy public is forced to take the treatment whether you like it or not.

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