The significance of Meryl Dorey’s insignificance

Yesterday I hinted at the cost to the AVN of Justice Christine Adamson’s ruling in favour of their appeal against the HCCC.

Whilst I postulated on what the HCCC could have done to ensure that the appeal was tossed out, the fact remains that Meryl Dorey – “Australia’s foremost expert on vaccination” – has to accept that she has (Ed: in respect of this ruling, arguably) been found to influence no-one. I’m sure being legally insignificant is not the pivotal aspect of the ruling Dorey will recount to members, unless she is grasping to deny the “anti-vaccine” label.

Within hours distortions began flowing to members on Facebook:

… I  am just so pleased that the Supreme Court agreed with our original contention that the HCCC had no jurisdiction to investigate us based on the complaints which were not valid complaints according to the HCC Act. Justice DOES work sometimes.

Not strictly true. A major part of the original contention was that the HCCC acted outside jurisdiction because the AVN was not a Health Service Provider.

By Saturday the deception was tangible. Meryl Dorey posted:

For those who have been asking about our chariity (sic) status, hopefully, I will have more information on that early next week. The HCCC decision did not automatically give us back the authority, but I am hopeful that we will get it back since the OLGR relied completely on the HCCC warning to revoke the authority. Therefore, since the warning was invalid, the revocation may be too. Anyway, I will let you know as soon as I have the information myself.

I’m not sure what game Dorey is playing here. She initially made this claim 16 months ago. There’s no doubt that she has constantly manipulated the flow of information to create the illusion that the OLGR revocation followed directly from, and was based upon the HCCC ruling. Initially in October 2010, Dorey emailed members citing only sections A, C and F of the notice she received from the OLGR and claimed:

As you can see, the OLGR based their entire decision on the HCCC’s demand for us to declare ourselves as being anti-vaccine and putting their disclaimer on our website…

Strange, because as far I can see the HCCC cannot possibly have had anything to do with OLGR findings of :

  • Fundraising without an authority
  • Unauthorised expenditure
  • Failure to keep proper records of income
  • 23 breaches of the Charitable Fundraising Act 1991

On Saturday reasonablehank was quick to look for any substance and I recommend reading what is a complete demolition of this myth that the OLGR “relied completely on the HCCC”.

The holy grail of this HCCC appeal can be gleaned from Dorey’s erroneous claim. She wanted the OLGR decision overturned. But how? Certiorari is the legal term for an order given to set aside a decision. The decision is quashed and expunged from the record. Originally Dorey had named the Minister for Gaming and Racing as a second defendant. On July 5th, 2011 she discontinued proceedings against the Minister.

Dorey then sought to have the HCCC Investigation, Recommendation and Public Warning not only ruled as outside jurisdiction as per the HCC Act – ultra vires – but also sought certiorari to quash the HCCC determination to issue the warning. This would mean the decision was made unlawfully and not just outside jurisdiction as granted under the Act as it pertains to complaints. So what did the AVN put to Justice Adamson as unlawful? What rights had the HCCC abused? Adamson wrote:

When asked to identify the discernible legal right which was affected, counsel for the plaintiff said:

“The damage to its reputation by being labelled a public risk to health and safety.”

I realise it’s looking rather obvious but in plain speech this is where Dorey got to say, I’m not a risk to public safety and I deserve to retain my right to be a health charity. Adamson continued:

The plaintiff submitted that its rights were not only directly affected, but also altered, by the HCCC’s decision to issue the Public Warning and that certiorari is accordingly available… It argued that the decision directly exposed it to a new hazard of an adverse exercise of public power (having its fundraising capacity revoked).

However, the plaintiff could not point to any provision in the Charitable Fundraising Act 1991 that made the Public Warning a mandatory relevant consideration in the Minister’s decision whether to revoke the authority.    Accordingly there is no basis on which I could find that the Minister for Gaming is legally obliged to take into account the Public Warning. For these reasons, certiorari does not lie.

The implications of this are huge. With denial of certiorari the linking of the AVN’s fundraising capacity revocation to the HCCC ruling has no basis. The court did not find that the AVN is not a risk to public health and safety because it also did not find that the HCCC erred in its conclusions or that the complaints are unfounded. The significance of Dorey’s clinically impotent insignificance is worth noting.

The AVN is left with the reality that the HCCC acted outside of jurisdiction in its Investigation, Recommendation and Public Warning. Because in this instance, the AVN in effect influences nobody in any significant way.

Also a lot of attention has now been drawn to this “anti-vaccination” group. This led Dorey to complain which led Fran Sheffield of Homeopathy Plus to comment on Dorey’s dishonesty, confirming that the AVN were anti-vaccine.

Fran then backed it up 45 minutes later with something that echoes point one of the HCCC’s pre-warning request, which read: The Australian Vaccination Network’s purpose is to provide information against vaccination in order to balance what it believes is the substantial amount of pro-vaccination information available elsewhere. The other two points were (2) The information provided should not be read as medical advice and (3) The decision about whether or not to vaccinate should be made in consultation with a health care provider.

Sheffield wrote:

I think if the AVN placed a statement clearly on its website that people saw on first visiting – that it is providing the ‘missing’ information, or the information government and health departments should provide but don’t, then it would explain why weight of information the AVN carries makes it appear to be anti-vaccine.

In what must be one of the most hypocritical replies Dorey has ever managed, she then argued that the “AVN code of ethics” forbade judging anyone on their decisions. It might be harmful to their cause to openly say they were anti-vaccine. She “could not care less what others do” once the AVN have given them information doctors and the government withhold. Then amazingly Dorey herself echoes point one of the HCCC’s pre-warning request:

We provide information on the negative aspects of vaccination in order to balance the purely one-sided information given by the government and the medical community. We provide balance – we don’t tell people they should not vaccinate and we never will.

It’s nice to know some things haven’t changed.

And I am still not a lawyer.