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DOCTORING THE TRUTH

04-07-2007

In the wake of the weekend’s attempted car bombings in Glasgow and London, it’s emerged that all eight suspects who’ve been arrested work for the NHS - including Dr Mohammed Asha, who allegedly has links to Birmingham. Good medic that he is, Dr David Nicholl corrects a false diagnosis.

Yesterday’s Birmingham Post headlines - “University link to doctor on M6” - and the Sun’s headline - “Doctor Evil” - refer to Dr Mohammed Asha and suggest that he’s a neurologist trained at Birmingham University.

Let’s get this clear. Dr Asha is not a neurologist nor is he trained at Birmingham University

If he was, as the person in charge of postgraduate training in neurology there, I guess I would be a ‘terrorist trainer’ according to the Sun.

But when the media are in full feeding frenzy, its column inches that matter not the facts.

What is true is that Dr Asha is a neurosurgeon working at Stoke and according to a colleague I’ve spoken to, he’s “very bright” and he was recently successfully appointed to a registrar post in the MMC system that has been so controversial.

That such basic mistakes have already been made shows that before the lynch mob start putting up a noose on the nearest tree in Stoke, it’s vital that we all calm down.

Let the Police get on with their very difficult job, while we get on with ours.

Innocent until proven guilty must be our watchword.

Remember the many people who have been arrested and have been found subsequently to be innocent, eg the infamous Ricin plot (except for the minor detail of there was no bloody Ricin!).

Remember John Charles de Menezes?

As the saying goes, careless talk costs lives, so journalists - a bit less hyperbole and a bit more fact-checking, please.

Finally can politicians start acting like leaders and stop reaching for the statute book to create yet another law every time there is an incident. We didn’t do this with the IRA so why should we do it for Al Qaeda.

So far Gordon Brown and Jacqui Smith appear to be avoiding the mistakes of John ‘Rottweiler’ Reid, but sometimes the temptation to go for those Murdoch headlines can just be so tempting.
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