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Campaigners criticise report into Camelford water poisoning

BMJ 2013; 346 doi: (Published 23 May 2013) Cite this as: BMJ 2013;346:f3376

Re: Campaigners criticise report into Camelford water poisoning

It is if nothing else reassuring to read at least one news item on the publication of this report, now more than one month ago.

It does not come as any surprise to learn that this latest enquiry, 13 years in the making, has achieved absolutely nothing. This is not altogether the fault of those who sat on the enquiry. It was not they who chose not to appoint anyone with the relevant experience to the panel. It may have been them who chose not to invite anyone with the relevant experience to make submissions to the panel. I was certainly not asked to do so and I volunteered my services.

The brief point to be made here is that by simply reading between the lines of the very brief section of the report which outlines possible further research it becomes abundantly clear that neither those questions which were asked at the outset nor those questions which should have been asked at the outset have been answered or in some cases even addressed in this report.

This has proven to be a terrible waste of both time, for the panel and for the people of Camelford, and a complete waste of taxpayer's money.

If ever there was a panel set up with the absolute intention of achieving nothing then this is such a model for the future.

The story of Britain's most catastrophic mass poisoning of the public remains to be told. It is not too late to begin to do this and I urge the government to at least act upon the recommendations of this report, actions which could have been instigated 13 years ago if not 25 years ago immediately after this terrible event.

The very limited (and wholly independent) science which has investigated Camelford to date has demonstrated that there is a story to be told. This is perhaps why this report has gone out of its way to prevent this from happening.

Competing interests: No competing interests

25 May 2013
Christopher Exley
Keele University
The Birchall Centre, Keele University, Staffordshire ST5 5BG