This site deals only with the corporate corruption of science, and makes no inference about the motives or activities of individuals involved.
There are many reasons why individuals become embroiled in corporate corruption activities - from political zealotry to over-enthusiastic activism; from gullibility to greed.
Please read the OVERVIEW carefully, and make up your own mind.
Debra J Street
— A statistician who the Tobacco Institute of Australia attempted to enlist in one of its scientific scams. —
Some key documents
1994 April 7: Donna Staunton at Tobacco Institute of Australia (TIA) is reporting to the executives of the cigarette companies about the proceedings the TIA has bought against the Australian National Health & Medical Resarch Council (NH&MRC). The TIA's legal action has forced them to "re-frame their terms of reference" in examing the health consequences of passive smoking.
She is also setting up an "Independent Working Party" (later called the 'IWG' — Independent Working Group) to counter the NH&MRC's anti-smoking investigations. She has asked Dr Julian Lee (ex-head of the Australian Medical Association's NSW branch) to do this on the quiet, and they know the bias of every name on the proposed list of IWG members.
[Warning: Don't assume every member of the IWG was a tobacco lackey, however — just the majority! However all participants would clearly expect to be well compensated for their efforts. Staunton estimates that the cost of this Independent Working Party would be in the order of $200,000, which averages to about six-months of each academic's salary.\
We propose to invite a number of eminently qualified experts to conduct a review of all the "evidence" concerning exposure to ETS and its alleged health effects. This Independent Working Party will mirror the workings of the NH&MRC's Joint Working Party which is charged with reviewing its 1986 Report.
[Some of those on the list above were probably chosen simply to provide credibility to the IWG. However many of the others were statisticians [not epidemiologists] — who weren't really relevant— and more than half of those proposed were in the long-term pay of the tobacco industry before this time.
The Joint Working Party is due to present its report to NH&MRC in November. We would propose that the Independent Working Party ['IWG'] submit its report to both the Joint Working Party and NH&MRC in October.
The Independent Working Party has a number of benefits including :
- a de facto extension of time for placing submissions to NH&MRC;
- placing pressure on NH&MRC's Joint Working Party to come up with a "balanced" view, and
- it will place considerable pressure on NH&MRC if the review of the Independent Working Party and Joint Working Pane are substantially different .
Glenn Eggleton [Her old boss at Clayton Utz] has approached Dr Julian Lee on an informal basis. Dr Lee has agreed to help set up the Independent Working Party.
I suggest the following experts be considered for inclusion in the Independent Working Party. Their area of "expertise" is also listed.
- Asthma — Professor Anne Woolcock, Ms Jennifer Peat and Dr David McKenzie
- Lung cancer — Professor William Dunsmuir, Professor Richard Tweedie, Professor Kerry Mengerson, Dr Julian Lee, and Professor Geoffrey Eagleson.
- Cardiovascular Disease — Professor Mervin Merrilees, Dr Julie Campbell, Mr Norman Stenhouse and Dr Neil Cumpston.
- Cancers other than lung cancer — Professor Richard Tweedie
- Difference between mainstream smoke, side stream smoke and ETS — Dr Julian Lee
- Adult respiratory effects — Dr Julian Lee and Dr David McKenzie
- SIDS — Ms Jennifer Peat, Dr Malcolm Faddy, Professor John Eccleston and Dr Peter Cooke.
To control the output of a committee you only need to control 51%. But in this case, they clearly had a margin of error built in .... ]
If the suggestion that we set up an Independent Working Party is accepted, we must then recognise that we would have no control over the content of their final report. However, as Glenn Eggleton has pointed out, all of the experts that I suggest be included in the Independent Working Party are known to us, as are their views. [ie. don't let ham-fisted corporate executives and PR flacks try to exert obvious pressure ... as they usually do...!]
It is most important to ensure that not only each of the member companies understands that the Independent Working Party must have a free reign to examine each of the areas within its brief, but also make it quite clear to the public that this is the case.
She then suggests that they advertise the IWG positions to make it appear to be an open, honest and unbiased selection process.
To facilitate this, a letter of appointment should be carefully drafted to ensure that the terms of appointment of each of the members of the Independent Working Party are set out. [See example of Julian Lee]
However Staunton is so sure of the outcome, that she is already planning how to gain maximum PR advantage out of the IWG's report.
It may be that we should place an advertisement in the press outlining the "terms of reference" of the Independent Working Party as well as the terms of appointment of its members.
The publication of the Independent Working Party's report will be an important scientific document of world-class standard... [it]... should also be submitted to the relevant scientific journals and published in book form for dissemination.
[John Luik was a corrupt scientific commentator in the USA. Staunton was planning to bring him to Australia for a scientific media tour where he could be replied on to condemn the NH&MRC's report.
I would also propose that we arrange media exposure for the members of the Independent Working Party and TIA.
Consideration should also be given to [using the tactics of] ...
- John Luik (his commentary on the report of the Independent Working Party and the NH&MRC's Joint Working Party.
- [pre-publication of any] bias/predisposition of NH&MRC Joint Working Party members.
Note also her use of pre-emptive smear tactics against NH&MRC members ... accusing her opponents of the scientifically-corrupt behaviour she was actively engaged in herself. This was an old and well-practiced technique of the tobacco industry.]
Also listed in the Anex biographies was Debra J Street
- Present Position: Senior Lecturer . Department of Statistics, School of Mathematics, University of NSW.
- Dr Street has co-authored two text books and has no less than 27 published papers to her credit.
- Dr Street is on a number of editorial boards including the Australian Journal of statistics. In addition she is a member of approximately 10 peer review committees.
1994 Dec 7: The press report of the IWG shows
"that some of the claims that have been made about 'passive smoking' may not be soundly based and justified on the data" [after an ] "objective evaluation of more than 500 sientific papers. [The evidence] about adverse health effects is weak and inconclusive." This document shows which scientists in the proposed list agreed to support the IWG and its findings.
- Dr Julian Lee, Thoracic Physician
- Dr David McKenzie, Professor of Medicine Uni of NSW
- Dr Mervyn Merrilees, Medicine, Uni of Auckland
- Dr Peter Cooke, statistician Uni of NSW
- Dr William Dunsmuir, statistician Uni of NSW
- Dr John Eccleston, statistician Uni of Queensland
- Dr Malcolm Faddy, statistican Uni of Queensland
- Dr Kerrie Megersen, stats Qld Uni of Tech (Tweedie's girlfriend)
- Dr Jennifer Peat, statistician University of Sydney
[ Debra Street is not listed as a signatory to this report — so she either didn't get involved, or didn't support the conclusions.]