Australian Independent Working Group

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The Australian Independent Working Group on smoking and health was run by Dr Julian H Lee, who simultaneously managed to hold down the position of director of the State Division of the Australian Medical Association (AMA)

Documents & Timeline

1993 In 1993 Lee was paid $64,500 to appear briefly as an expert witness for Perth's Burswood Casino in its successful defence against charges that tobacco smoke levels had exceeded occupational health codes.

In 1994 he was called on again by CSR to testify that asbestos exposure had not caused the disability alleged by the plaintiff. (Also a WA case defended by Julie Bishop of Clayton Utz.)

These court appearances and his subsequent work for the Tobacco Institute dismissing scientific evidence of health problems from passive smoking have antagonised his peers. Lee believes he is the victim of a"major plot of vilification" hatched by a group of West Australian physicians who see him as an "evil genius". He says there have been unsuccessful attempts to censure him within the AMA and block his nomination for the organisation's honour roll. There was also a bid by the West Australian branch of the Thoracic Society to expel him.

The society tried to defuse this uprising with a public debate at Sydney University which shook up several participants not used to fiery invective and personal insult. Lee and two members of the group, he convened for the Tobacco Institute argued that passive smoke was innocent until proven guilty beyond reasonable doubt, while representatives of the NHMRC presented the evidence for a death sentence and a better-safe-than-sorry public health policy. [2]

1993 Oct The international INFOTAB newsletter "InfoTopics" has a front-page story [But see Page 20 version]

Magistrate dismisses ETS case in Perth

A MAGISTRATE in Perth, Western Australia, has dismissed the claims of the Department of Occupational Health, Safety and Welfare (DOHSW) against Burswood Resort Casino. The DOHSW alleged that the casino operators were breaching their statutory duty to provide a safe environment for their employees because they were exposing them to ETS at work. In dismissing the claims, the court stated:

    "While ETS (passive smoke) is annoying and of discomfort to non-smokers, it has not been proved at the required standard, or at all, in this prosecution, that it is a risk to the health of the employees at the Casino."

The court found that the health of the employees was not at risk when they were exposed to ETS levels at the casino, even during the "busiest times of the week".

Two leading respiratory physicians testified in the case, Dr. [[Julian Lee and Dr. Bryan Gandevia. Both Dr. Lee and Dr. Gandevia testified that no diseases in adults are proven to be caused by exposure to ETS. Dr. Gandevia described the evidence against ETS as "unconvincing".

Dr. Gandevia testified that, with regard to the incidence of respiratory disease in adults, it "wouldn't make the slightest bit of difference" if "passive smoking in all places including residences and public buildings and other buildings was banned tomorrow".

Padraig McGuinness, a well-known Australian newspaper columnist, commented on the above decision.

McGuinness discusses various aspects of the hearings, including the expert witnesses called by both sides. [Snip} According to McGuinness, this judgement is important since it serves to underline the objectionable and premature intolerance of many employers.

He also says that it can serve to remind us that "much of the propaganda of the anti-smoking lobby, especially as it applies to passive smoking, is tendentious and unproven.[3]

Re this last observations: It had been made by an Australian journalist commenting about a ETS case in Western Australia. This only made sense for this INFOTAB to report because they knew that Paddy McGuinness, who was a Murdoch News Ltd columnist in the "Australian", was also in the pay of the tobacco industry. The director of INFOTAB, Bryan Simpson (also an Australian who worked for Murdoch), had probably recruited him.

1994 Aug 9 Martin Riordan, the head of PR for WD&HO Wills Tobacco in Australia was seeking to recover some of the costs associated with his payment of $200,000 for Julian Lee's "Independent Working Group".

The National Health and Medical Research Council (NH&MRC) in Australia has re-launched its enquiry into 'passive smoking'. The TIA has proceeded with its strategy of conducting its own parallel enquiry, and I attach the list of experts who have agreed to take part.

It is anticipated that the TIA's independent ETS panel will report before the NH&MRC's final report in mid-late 1995. Accordingly, at the Hong Kong meeting I would like to seek support from BATCo operating companies that they consider joint funding the cost of this independent panel because the results will be of international significance.

At present the cost is $200,000, of which I am seeking to recover $66,666 from BATCo operating companies. [4]

[He doesn't need to wait for the results of the committee's deliberation, since this has been pre-ordained.]

1998 Sep The Institute of Public Affairs (IPA) in Australia has published an article "Playing the Man: The Modern Inquisition of 'Concerned' Science" by Andrew MacIntyre. It accused activists of the 'political left' of misusing and 'inverting' science, and of abandoning the approach of rational inquiry and objectivity.

His examples of this perversion are: greenhouse gases; AIDS; leaded petrol; child sexual abuse, and tobacco and health which all deny scientific evidence.

The man supposedly "being played was Dr Julian H Lee who, according to MacIntyre, was: "a distinguished thoracic physician, and a tireless worker in (the tobacco smoke) field." It doesn't tell the readers that Lee was paid by the tobacco industry to run the Australian Independent Working Group of doctors who had sold out to the cigarette companies -- as well as being the State President of the Australian Medical Association (AMA).

J Ray Johnstone has sent this article to various members of PM International, and it has been relayed to Cathy Ellis, Edward Sanders, and Roger Walk -- three of the top science-corrupters in the business. [5]