Thursday, 17 March 2016

Dr Peter J Gordon's feedback @ScotParl on his Sunshine Act for Scotland Petition: closed 8Mar16

Feedback on Petition PE1493 as requested by the Scottish Parliament,
Dr Peter J Gordon
MBChb Aberdeen, MLA distinction Edinburgh, MRCPsych

PE1493 on ScotParl website

"Thinking about the process that your petition went through, how fairly do you think your petition was dealt with?

Firstly I am impressed with how well organised and structured the PPC is. There are many petitions (a growing number?) and without the Clerks I cannot imagine that the committee members and Convener would manage to cope.

Secondly I am impressed that the PPC meetings are all recorded and archived both by Parliamentary TV and full verbatim Minutes. This is most commendable.

My petition PE1493 was not fairly managed. The reasons are as follows:

(1) Apart from the initial opportunity to present my petition and engage directly with the committee there were no further opportunities to directly engage with the committee

(2) This lack of direct engagement deprives the public of consideration of the further evidence and correspondence collected by the PPC. Not once were any of the responses to PE1493 discussed in any detail whatsoever by the PPC.

(3) Following my initial presentation of PE1493, all PPC meetings considering my petition were very short indeed. Many of them under a minute and the most common outcome was “the PPC will write to the Scottish Government”

(4) A huge amount of responsibility falls the way of the Senior Clerk and the Clerk’s team. Given this, and that this is a Committee for the public, who have elected the MSPs on the committee, it would seem important for the committee to acknowledge this. It would be helpful to set out clearly the qualifications and responsibilities of the Clerk and the line-management system, and system of appeal for any petitioner or member of public. Otherwise the PPC risks being considered undemocratic.

(5) As Petitioner for PE1493, in being asked to provide evidence from Scotland, to substantiate the request to consider legislation for healthcare workers and academics to declare financial conflicts of interest, I found myself in an impossible position. For example one piece of evidence, with full supporting material (film and the RCPsych approved power-point presentations of the academics) was refused publication by the PPC. In fact the PPC members, to my knowledge, never saw the letter. The decision not to publish was made by the Clerk based on Parliamentary Guidelines. I fully respect the right of the Scottish Parliament to determine what it publishes. However I feel very strongly that without this evidence (repeatedly asked for by the PPC, Scottish Government, and the Cabinet Minister for Health) that PE1493 could not be properly and meaningfully considered.

(6) PE1493 was closed. This was the deliberation of that decision of the PPC of 8th March 2016:

“There is stunned silence.”

Closure of my petition for a Sunshine Act for Scotland was then “minded” for closure by one of the members repeating what had been recorded by the Clerk in the papers for the meeting, that being:

“PE1493 by Peter John Gordon on a Sunshine Act for Scotland. To close the petition, under Rule 15.7, on the basis that the Scottish Government has committed to review the need for updated guidance on what the petition calls for and is consulting on the issue to gather views on what format it should take.”

My petition specifically asked for legislation because of the complete failure of previous guidance to be followed.

What did you hope to achieve by submitting your petition?

For a Sunshine Act to be introduced. For Scotland to lead the way in the United Kingdom. To reduce harm caused by bias introduced into science by financial vested interests. To address over-medicalisation and harmful misdirection of finite resources.

How do you feel about the outcomes?

Proud that I was brave enough and had the stamina and energy to raise and pursue this petition.

Grateful that this Petition has encouraged wider discussion.

Disappointed at the skewed “Public Consultation” which failed to explain to the consultees that existing Scottish Government Guidance has failed across our nation for more than 13 years. The information provided to the Consultees was drawn up by the Scottish Government.

Disappointed that PE1493 was closed without further opportunity to consider the evidence gathered and that it was closed based on the misunderstanding that PE1493 “called for updated guidance”

I feel that the PPC could have done more to hold the Scottish Government to account."


·       PE1493, Scottish Parliament page:

·       Sunshine Act for Scotland, Hole Ousia website by Dr Peter J Gordon:



Other posts I've written about Dr Gordon's Sunshine Act petition from 13 November 2013, the day after he first gave evidence at the Public Petitions Committee in Scottish Parliament:

8 March 2016: Sunshine Act for Scotland Petition closed by @ScotParl 8Mar16: passing the buck @scotgov 

29 January 2016: at Public Petitions Committee Meeting @ScotParl 26Jan16 to hear Sunshine Act for Scotland PE1493

22 January 2016: A Sunshine Act for Scotland Petition PE1493: 26 January 2016 Robert Burns Room @ScotParl

9 January 2016: A Sunshine Act for Scotland Petition@ScotParl: Why no reference to Scottish Health Council Consultation? 

8 June 2015: A Sunshine Act for Scotland PetitionPE1493 by Dr Peter J Gordon: under consideration 9 June 2015 @ScotParl 

23 April 2015:my#BMJ Response: 'Sunshine Act for Scotland: transparency, independence andaccountability' 

18 March 2015:31 March 2015: Sunshine Act for Scotland Public Petition PE1493 @ScotParl.Again. I'm looking for action. 

28 January 2015: my tweets after watching #SunshineAct forScotland petition being discussed on @ScotParl video 27 January 2015 

23 January 2015:  Sunshine Act for Scotland Petition GoesBefore Parliament a 3rd Time 

13 November 2013: SunshineAct for Scotland petition Dr Peter J Gordon, Public Petitions Committee 11 Nov14 Scottish Parliament (outcome? ask Scottish Government)

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