Meryl Dorey and the Woodford “free speech, democracy” thing

The comments of Joe Stella, editor of The Daily Grind on ABC’s The Drum [December 13th, 2011] on the topic of free speech, highlights Ms. Dorey’s abuse of democratic freedoms.

He chips in here at 1:40, and the same video can be found on yesterday’s post. His blurb on Dorey’s appearance at Woodford is:

It’s up to individuals in the audience to go seek out alternative views if they so want. It isn’t a university or public school… it’s a festival. Everyone’s entitled to their views no matter how wrong. […] It’s perfectly fine in a democratic country for people to be wrong.

And I really er, obviously she’s a nutter and vaccinate your kids and that’s all very important, but the tenor of those who oppose her right to speak, saying ‘oh she should have a disclaimer on her website before she can put her views’, or ‘she shouldn’t be allowed to speak in public’, ah, I find that really unsettling in a democratic society.

Mr. Stella exhibits a poor appreciation of the dynamics pertaining to the HCCC request that Ms. Dorey place a notice revealing her anti-vaccination position on her website. The AVN qualifies as a health service in NSW and is thus subject to the HCCC mandate. This qualification as a health service has been established in the NSW Supreme Court during the AVN appeal against the HCCC decision. This was conceded in court by Ms. Dorey herself on July 28th, 2011.

The HCCC decision was backed by Victoria’s Chief Health Officer Dr. John Carnie, speaking on ABC’s The World Today, July 13th, 2010. Our TGA’s Complaints Resolution Panel investigates breaches of the Therapeutic Goods advertising code and when complaints are upheld, requests for notices to be published on the offending site. Would Joe Stella suggest this is also a matter of “tenor” that we should “find really unsettling in a democratic society”?

If anything, it is the toothless tiger status of health regulators that has been shown up as a problem time and again. Retraction demands are simply ignored by colleagues of Ms. Dorey, in the full knowledge the drain on public funding renders it not in the community interest to prosecute. Had Dorey doused her ego in cold water and ignored the HCCC and their public health warning her right to deceive Aussies and place community health at risk would be just as in tact as it remains today, minus the scathing public attention.

It’s almost an Aussie tradition when it comes to alternatives to medicine. They lie about efficacy or evidence, someone complains, the complaint is upheld, a request to publish a retraction or warning is made, they point and laugh at the impotent request and life returns to normal.

Ms. Dorey’s right to speak freely has never been a factor. It is her refusal to comply with authority that concerns her critics. That underscores the recklessness of providing a platform to a skilled manipulator who snubs simple laws that everyday Australians comply with daily.

In revoking the AVN’s Charitable Fundraising Licence (October 20th, 2010), the NSW Office of Liquor Gaming and Racing acknowledged the HCCC decision and Ms. Dorey’s refusal to comply. In doing so they found that consumers may be misled into making donations, or purchasing membership “in good faith”. The import of this decision is reinforced by the fact that the OLGR found 23 breaches of the Charitable Fundraising Act 1991, following a 2010 audit of The Australian Vaccination Network. Charity fraud.

The Northern Star reported at the time that the AVN provided a media release which:

…said the OLGR had found several errors with the network’s bookkeeping system and some minor problems with the way in which fundraising income was accounted for.

And:

“Had the OLGR based its decision upon the simple errors which were found during our audit – errors which any small, volunteer-run organisation can and does make – it would have been unfair but not unexpected,” Ms Dorey said.

“What makes this decision difficult to understand is that the revocation was based solely upon a questionable decision by the NSW Health Care Complaints Commission (HCCC) which we believe is not relevant to the OLGR’s mandate.”

So, how did we get from “errors which any small, volunteer-run organisation can and does make” to 23 breaches of the Act? Was it really “based solely” upon the HCCC decision? Here’s Dorey’s famous email to members in which she copies and pastes items a, c and f from the OLGR’s letter of revocation, forgetting that readers may wonder just what items b, d, e and any other content may have referred to.

From that day forth Dorey’s claim to members has been this consistent deceit. The HCCC do not have authority. The OLGR decision is based on the HCCC’s “illegal” investigation and thus also carries no weight. Only 6 days ago Dorey informed her rapid turnover membership, via her various internet outlets, of The attack against the AVN – a repeat of the information:

It has been brought to my attention that newer readers may not be aware of the circumstances behind the warning by the HCCC against the AVN…. The HCCC does not have the authority to recommend that the AVN put this or any other statement on its website…. The HCCC has adopted pro-vaccination assumptions and values. In other words, it has adopted a partisan position. That is not its role.

By issuing a public warning about the AVN, the HCCC overstepped its mandate…. The complaints to the HCCC against the AVN are part of a systematic campaign to shut down the AVN…. Those who have attacked the AVN have ridiculed and slandered AVN members, made false claims about their beliefs, made numerous complaints to a variety of official bodies, and made personal threats against individuals. The HCCC has allowed itself to be a tool of opponents of the AVN.

If Ms. Dorey cannot accept the “tenor” of the NSW Supreme Court and the role of public health authorities, then defending her as a matter of democratic integrity is quite ambitious. She has conceded herself that the AVN indeed falls under the HCCC mandate. Regarding the constant myth of personal threats made against her by complainants, Howard Sattler raised this with Dorey last year:

Or download audio here.

Before a group of fed up volunteers exercised their democratic freedoms, the simple fact is that the AVN and Dorey had run amok for close to 17 years. Donations had been continually asked for and received for a Bounty Bag insert that didn’t exist. Bounty Bags themselves had never heard of this and would never entertain antivaccination propaganda. On page 18 of Meryl Dorey’s trouble with the truth Pt. 1, Ken McLeod reports on Dorey’s charity fraud:

Meryl Dorey’s Yahoo! Group Message #29638 of 41210 dated Mon May 29, 2006 7:16
“Hi All,
In the latest edition of Informed Voice, we put out a call for funds because we desperately want to be able to accomplish some very specific goals of reaching more people with our information and also hopefully, getting more members/readers – you name it. The goals were as follows: Need to raise approximately $20,000 over the next 12 months to successfully lobby Federal Parliament for chages (sic) to legislation taking away the need for parents to see doctors in order to register as conscientious objectors to vaccination $17,000 would allow us to advertise our services and our magazine in the Bounty bag. This information is currently given out to every woman who births in hospital in Australia – exactly the people who need our information the most!” “your donation will go towards the ability to offer our services and our magazine in the Bounty Bag which is given to every woman who births in hospital.”

The Internet Archive shows that this appeal has appeared on the AVN’s website since 3 February 2007. The same appeal appeared in Meryl Dorey’s emails, in the AVN magazine “Living Wisdom” and the AVN HPV brochure. This appeal remained on the AVN website until 17 July 2010.

Well, “your donation” didn’t go toward women “who need our information the most!”. This is not free speech. This is outright calculated fraud, running for years, that highlights Dorey’s disdain for, and exploitation of her members, the Australian public and new mothers. And what does such conduct say about her ongoing claim of helping Australians make an informed choice beyond sheer mockery? More so, there has been no lobbying of Federal Parliament to seek changes in the requirements for conscientious objection.

Does Meryl Dorey seriously think her necon’ ramblings about “illegal” HCCC investigations and “a systematic campaign to shut down the AVN” can expunge the import of such outright crime? Other smaller brand names have been abused in this manner also. Added to this are breaches of copyright that Dorey put down to “ignorance”. Ignorance? Not likely. On September 1st, 2010 Kate Benson in the SMH wrote:

An anti-vaccination group is under fire for allegedly breaching copyright laws by selling newspaper and medical journal articles online without permission from the authors. […]

The packs, which were selling for up to $128, included home-made books filled with articles photocopied from journals around the world, information on drugs taken from MIMS, the medical guide used by doctors and nurses, and copies of brochures inserted in medication boxes by pharmaceutical companies. […]

Dorey continues to sell articles in the AVN shop that are available freely elsewhere online. Frequently they are available on the author’s own website. The same can be said for videos. For sale from Dorey or watch online at the click of a mouse. Of the antivaccination, conspiracy theory, HIV/AIDS denial, fluoride fear mongering, fake cancer cures and pro-Scientology/anti-psychiatry books on sale virtually all are available cheaper elsewhere.

Despite the pleas of impartiality, the rank offence and mockery is at times breathtaking. As reported by reasonablehank, Dorey recently wrote, in a pitch to sell an AIDS denialist’s DVD:

In honour of Australia winning the ‘right’ to play host to a huge international conference on AIDS and HIV, here is a DVD that will give you information on the origin of and treatments for this disease that is being blamed for tens of millions of deaths since the 1980s.

Dorey is documented as scamming her members out of $12,000 for a non-existent “vaccine-autism” advertisement in 2009. In 2008 she milked the emotion of members in a dramatic telling of a family with a baby newly born to a hepatitis B positive mother “on the run from vaccination”. Whilst the situation was factual Dorey made Peter Foster look like an amateur as she relayed “reports” from the father, took full credit for saving them from DOCS and terrified members with tales that this could happen to anyone. Unless of course, the AVN was funded. The “fighting fund” she opened immediately, made almost $12,000.

Incredibly Dorey then informed her members of her intention to breach the Charitable Trusts Act 1993:

If you did make a donation but we haven’t heard from you by 7th October 2008 about this matter, we will assume that you have no objection to the AVN utilising your contribution for the administrative and operational purposes of the AVN and the Living Wisdom magazine.

The OLGR reported [bold mine]:

During the course of the inquiry evidence of possible breaches of the Charitable Trusts Act 1993 was detected in relation to the following specific purpose appeals conducted by AVN:

Fighting Fund – to support a homeless family, allegedly seeking to avoid a court order to immunise a child with legal and living expenses. The appeal ran for a short time in 2008 and raised $11,810. None of the funds were spent on this purpose.

Advertising Appeal – initially this was an appeal for the specific purpose of raising funds for an advertisement in the Australian commencing in March 2009 and concluding July 2009. The specific purpose was changed during the course of the appeal to fund advertisements in Child magazine. This appeal raised $11,910. None of the funds were applied to the specific purposes. It is noted that AVN did spend some $15,000 during the period December 2009 to July 2010 on various forms of advertising.

Bounty Bag Program and Vaccination Testing – for a number of years AVN has solicited for donations generally in a manner where, despite it not being AVN’s intention, one specific purpose was created in that donations could only be spent on one or more of four purposes, including funding the provision of AVN material in the Bounty Bag program and testing of vaccines. No funds raised have been spent on these two purposes.

It’s anyone’s guess how many scams Dorey has gotten away with. A favourite fiction of mine is that which she launched within weeks after the family on the run story ended. She’d had calls from nurses who’d been “forced into vaccinating” despite prior adverse reactions, she lied. Their new “life threatening” reactions were mysteriously dismissed by hospital staff. But with her trusty Google, Meryl Dorey diagnosed Lupus Panniculitis. Oh my, what could be done?!

In a master stroke Dorey announced “Pain Free Funding”:

A couple of our members have recently donated part of their Maternity Immunisation Allowance to us. They said that without the AVN’s lobbying Parliament to get legislation put through to ensure their rights to government entitlements, they wouldn’t have this money or the Childcare Allowance anyway so they felt that we deserved part of it for our support of them. We thought this was a great idea! If you are in a position to give us a portion of your Maternity Allowance, we would be very grateful – just one more idea that hopefully won’t put too big a hole in anyone’s pocket.

I think even the silliest of us can see the HCCC decision played only a minor role in the OLGR’s revocation of the AVN’s charitable fundraising status. In view of the above it is clear that the AVN present a cleverly deceptive face to the Australian public, creating the illusion of authority and authenticity on the topic of vaccination.

Australians have a right to expect our health and charity regulators will act when culpable individuals and organisations exploit laxity in existing legislation. Particularly for their own ideological and financial benefit, with no regard for the consequences of their actions. There’s far more going on here than someone exercising their democratic right to free speech.

New Yorker Meryl Dorey snubs our legislation, exploits loopholes and publically abuses our regulatory bodies. She makes a dishonest living from scamming and lying to Aussies.

Seeking to impede or put an end to this is no threat to our democracy and no threat to free speech.

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