Jonathan Gornall

Jonathan Gornall, Munchausen Man

by John Stone



In a succesion of articles, the defence of the Government's fabricated illness orthodoxy and the reputations of its leading proponents Sir Roy Meadow and Prof David Southall, has fallen to the hands of journalist Jonathan Gornall. Gornall is a curious figure, best known for his failed attempt to row across the Atlantic a couple of years ago, and his raffish, not very pleasant, and recently terminated Times column: Microwave Man.,,1000069225,00.html?sym=QUE

Two articles on the Meadow case appeared in The Times last year (30 March, 24 June), followed by pieces in Hospital Doctor, The Guardian:,,1781767,00.html

and BMJ:

'Royal College rewrites Child Protaction History':

'How doctors' anonymity in family courts is under threat':

'Was message of sudden infant death study misleading?'

Whether Gornall is the man you would want to defend you reputation is an open question. Clearly he is a senior journalist of a sort, however, if a report in the Independent is to be believed his own career at The Times seems to have drawn to a close under a cloud of embarrassment earlier this year.

Normally speaking this sort of tittle-tattle would not interest me. What is bothersome about Gornall's contribution to the Munchausen debate is that it does not seem hugely principled. Responding to his article 'How doctors' anonymity in the family courts is under threat' I twice felt forced to challenge him regarding what point he was making:

"Re: Author's reply 21 November 2006

"Jonathan Gornall writes:

""Small wonder that John Stone, despite reading my piece three times, has failed to "pinpoint any argument in favour of expert anonymity and court secrecy" in my article. There isn't one. That was not what the article was about, as I suspect he well knows."

"Well, if so, it amounts to a defence of secrecy by ad hominem attack - beginning with the way Sarah Harman dresses. And challenged by me Gornall fails once again to produce an argument. There is surely no argument: if the evidence cannot bear scrutiny then it should not be given. At least for once the Government seem to be on the side of transparency and accountability. Presumably, Gornall is lobbying for the status quo, but cannot do any better."

He did not return to answer this.