Seven questions for Baroness Cumberlege and Professor Chantler

See previous piece: ‘Sonia Macleod PhD has pro-industry, anti-patient views and should not be ‘the researcher’ for the IMMDS Review

Julia Cumberlege has responded by email to an IMMDS Review patient, who has published it. I have emailed these questions, for the two senior members, to

1. You state that you, and your associates, ‘have worked with Sonia [Macleod] and known her over many years’. Please give an account of these relationships, including their financial aspects. Why were IMMDS Review stakeholder patient groups not informed?

2. Please give an account of Oxford University’s ‘Centre for Socio-Legal Studies’ where Sonia Macleod is a researcher, including its funding. Over the last ten years how many of its students and staff have moved on to employment with (a) industry (b) regulators (c) patient groups? Have you and your associates worked with other staff at the Centre?

3. You state that my piece on Sonia Macleod is ‘wrong’, but it is only now that you state ‘Sonia and the other members of the research team…are not decision takers’ and that she is not a member of the ‘the Panel’. Therefore you have conceded one of my key points: the ambiguity of her role.

Ms Macleod questioned witnesses alongside other members of what you now call ‘the Panel’. Why were patients and experts giving evidence not informed of her status, when it was clear that they often perceived her as a Panel member?

4. Who are ‘the other members of the research team’?

5. You state, ‘As Secretary, Valerie [Brasse] has a specific responsibility to manage the team’ of researchers. Is Ms Brasse a member of ‘the Panel’?

6. Your assurance that Sonia Macleod is not a ‘decision taker’, and not the only researcher, appears to concede my point that she expressed ‘pro-industry and anti-patient views’ in her 2014 paper and 2018 book. However, you contradict yourselves by also claiming that she is ‘objective’, without providing any evidence. You do not point to any errors of fact or reasoning in my blog piece. Will you be providing any actual evidence, or making any further statement, to the patient groups on this issue?

7. For Professor Chantler only. You are the medically qualified member of the panel. It is understood that you have worked with Baroness Cumberlege on a number of projects in recent years. What steps did you take to reassure yourself that she remedied the serious parliamentary wrongdoing (non-disclosures of financial links) which she admitted to in 2009? Do you accept that the non-disclosures concerning Sonia Macleod are serious?

Screenshot_2019-08-14 House of Lords takes no action over peer who broke sleaze rules


(Next blog piece: the IMMDS Review’s ‘communications lead’ Simon Whale)

(See also 16th September piece on Cumberlege’s anti-LGBT-rights speeches in the House of Lords)


About Dr Neil MacFarlane MRCPsych

Independent Psychiatrist providing culturally informed mental health opinion, advice, and a few new facts. Based near London, UK. Main qualifications: BA MBBS MA MRCPsych.

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