The Health Professions Council of South Africa's (HPCSA) appeal against a not guilty verdict for Professor Tim Noakes, handed down by the council's disciplinary committee, started on Wednesday, this week.
News24 reports that the HPCSA decided to appeal the ruling, which found Noakes not guilty of misconduct relating to tweets about his low carb high fat (LCHF) diet, known as Banting. Noakes, who has been a big proponent of the Banting diet, faced being struck off the HPCSA register as a medical practitioner if he had been found guilty.
The report quotes Noakes as saying last year that the HPCSA's decision to appeal the majority ruling that found in his favour smacked of "a witch hunt". "My legal team and I had originally chosen to go quietly into the night following the successful judgment delivered by advocate Joan Adams in my favour," he said.
At the time, Noakes said his legal team would vigorously seek recourse for injustices suffered by him during the hearing process. "We will tackle this by exposing all the injustices and ethical infringements that have happened in the course of this trial, which we believe qualifies as a malicious prosecution and persecution," he said.
"We will be actively pursuing options for recovery of all our costs from those involved in setting up and continuing the prosecution."
"A Pandora's box of injustices has been opened and we will selectively pursue those issues, which we consider are the most rank," said Noakes.
The report says Noakes landed himself in trouble after the former president of the Association for Dietetics in South Africa, Claire Julsing-Strydom, complained about Noakes giving advice on Twitter about the LCHF diet to a mother.
The mother's tweet read: "@ProfTimNoakes @SalCreed is LCHF eating ok for breastfeeding mums? Worried about all the dairy + cauliflower = wind for babies?? (sic)"
Noakes advised her to wean her child onto LCHF foods, which he described as "real" foods.
His tweet read: "Baby doesn't eat the dairy and cauliflower. Just very healthy high-fat breast milk. Key is to ween (sic) baby onto LCHF."
The report says Noakes currently has more than 100,000 followers on the social network on which he regularly shares articles and research supporting the LCHF, or Banting, diet.
The Professional Conduct Committee is set to hear arguments for and against the April 2017 ruling that cleared Noakes of negligence, reports Eyewitness News. His lawyer, Adam Pike, says that he is confident that the council will come to the same conclusion as last year.
Noakes will argue that the "information he gave on Twitter was entirely accurate", reports The Times. He said there was no doctor-patient relationship with the person who tweeted and his advice to wean onto a low carb‚ high fat diet was entirely compatible with South African dietary guidelines. It suggests meat‚ eggs and vegetables which‚ he says‚ is what the World Health Organisation suggests for babies to eat.
Advocate Ajay Bhoopchand SC argued for the HPCSA that the tweet was not just to the mother but could be read by everyone and be taken as advice by all people on Twitter. Bhoopchand is arguing that Noakes was a sports doctor who didn’t have knowledge to give dietary advice to the mother.
He asked the sports doctor on the three-person judging panel‚ Dr Bobby Ramasia‚ if he as a fellow sports doctor had spent a single day in neonatal and paediatric practice and whether he had expertise or experience to give advice to babies.
He then said Noakes was guilty of unprofessional conduct. "This case has nothing to do with doctors participating on Twitter‚" Bhoopchand argued. "He gave advice to a baby and he didn’t have expertise to give advice on that matter. This is not an adult running the Comrades. He is giving advice to a baby when he hasn’t examined a baby since 1977."
The report says Noakes’ advocate‚ Mike Van Der Nest SC‚ will defend Noakes’ tweet, which he will argue is not viewed as medical treatment.
Noakes' lawyer‚ Pike‚ compared the hearing to soccer player Christiano Ronaldo who‚ he said‚ after a minor touch by an opponent would roll around on the ground in supposed pain‚ overreacting and play acting.
[link url="https://www.news24.com/SouthAfrica/News/noakes-hpcsa-to-lock-horns-again-20180221"]News24 report[/link]
[link url="http://ewn.co.za/2018/02/21/tim-noakes-expected-to-appear-before-hpcsa-conduct-committee"]Eyewitness News report[/link]
[link url="https://www.timeslive.co.za/sunday-times/lifestyle/health-and-sex/2018-02-21-noakes-back-in-the-hot-seat-over-tweet/"]The Times report[/link]