BC doctor sanctioned for ‘harmful’ COVID-19 disinformation claims free speech violations
British Columbia doctor who has been the subject of numerous complaints from his medical colleagues over the spread of false information about COVID-19 is asking the courts to intervene and prevent his professional regulator from doing so discipline.
Dr. Stephen Malthouse alleges that the College of Physicians and Surgeons of British Columbia violates his freedom of speech. His petition, filed in the British Columbia Supreme Court on June 24, calls for a judge to dismiss a college reprimand and say he has no authority to follow through on his public statements about the pandemic.
The petition describes the college’s investigation as “solely and exclusively based on Dr. Malthouse’s exercise of his constitutional right to freedom of expression and to ask scientific and medical questions regarding COVID measures to public officials.”
Malthouse, a Denman Island family doctor whose thoughts on the pandemic have gone viral in some circles, has repeatedly asserted that COVID-19 is no more deadly than the flu and that vaccines are more dangerous than the new coronavirus.
He has publicized these scientifically unsubstantiated ideas in videos, at rallies against public health measures, letters to the editor and open letters.
He is represented in the petition by Toronto lawyer Rocco Galati, who has long been associated with the anti-vaccine movement and is involved in numerous lawsuits over COVID-related restrictions. Galati declined to comment on behalf of his client.
According to the petition, a college lawyer told Malthouse his public statements were “harmful to the public” and violated professional standards.
The college reportedly told Malthouse in a May 17 letter that he would be reprimanded and banned from talking about issues related to COVID-19 in response to at least 10 complaints from his fellow doctors.
Two of those doctors said they were happy to hear the college had taken action and disapproved of Malthouse’s arguments about free speech.
“According to this argument, a doctor could claim that snake oil is a ‘panacea’ as a member of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of British Columbia, and the college should honor the individual’s right to liberty. of expression – even when it means failing to protect the public, which is their mandate, âRossland’s Dr. Jennifer Cochran told CBC in an email.
Dr Michael Vance of Nelson agreed.
“Malthouse can go and spit whatever he wants and continue to enjoy his freedom of speech, but not as an actively licensed physician in British Columbia,” he said.
The college declined to comment while the case is in court. A spokesperson for the British Columbia government, who is also cited as a respondent, said the province has yet to be served on Malthouse’s petition.
Doctor claims his claims are based on science
In May, the college released a joint statement with the First Nations Health Authority, warning that doctors who put the public at risk by sharing misinformation about anti-vaccine, anti-mask, anti-physical removal and anti-lockdown could be subject to investigation and possible discipline.
Several other professional colleges issued similar warnings during the pandemic, including those representing naturopaths, chiropractors and practitioners of traditional Chinese medicine.
The bulk of Malthouse’s petition centers on the investigations that began in response to his open letter to provincial health worker Dr Bonnie Henry, which was circulated widely last October.
In the letter, written just before COVID-19 cases, deaths and hospitalizations began to increase, Malthouse said the pandemic was “over” and “no second wave will follow.” He also claimed that measures to control the spread of COVID-19 have been much more damaging than the virus.
In his petition, Malthouse says the claims in his letter are “supported and supported by peer-reviewed scientific and medical literature and evidence.”
Quotes from the letter include posts on websites like that of the organization founded by Robert F. Kennedy, one of 12 anti-vaccine campaigners. nicknamed the “dozen of disinformation”, flixxy.com, a site that shares cute videos of animals and children, and sott.net, a post that deals with conspiracy theories about the JFK assassination, 9/11 and alien abductions.
According to Malthouse, college investigators made several attempts to schedule an interview with him to discuss the complaints, but he declined to attend when told the college would not be recording the virtual meeting, citing claims confidentiality issues. There is no suggestion in the petition that Malthouse was not allowed to tape the interview.
The petition alleges that the college’s actions show an institutional bias in favor of public health officials and suggests that the B.C. government is acting outside provincial jurisdiction by enacting measures in the Health Professions Act that affect the public discourse.
Malthouse claims that the college’s action against him “rests on the vaguely, overbroad, and indefinite notion of” widely accepted “information as the only expression a health professional has the right to express, and is contrary to the â¦ Charter freedoms which extend to the protection of minorities opinions that the CPSBC considers false or false. “
None of the allegations have been proven in court and the college and the provincial government have yet to file responses.