Oh dear! Another week and another heap of nonsense from attention-seeking SNJ serial letter-writer Richard House. Like many readers, I suspect, I react with a wry smile followed by a yawn to his steady stream of ‘alternative’ ideas, but when during a worldwide pandemic he ventures into the field of public health, it is time to speak out.

In his attempt to discredit the vaccination programme, Dr House tells us that he is more frightened of the vaccine than he is of Covid-19. While that might be true for him, it is a reckless comment to make and certainly not one to be repeated in earshot of relatives of the 80 thousand dead or those currently gasping for air on our hospital wards. Whether or not it is consistent with what he airily and repeatedly describes as his ‘world view’, the vaccine remains our best hope of saving life and getting back to normal.

For reasons best known to himself, Dr House states that he takes offence at being called a conspiracy theorist, yet at the same time argues that the media, including the BBC, and those he disparagingly refers to as ‘the scientists’ are part of some concerted attempt to suppress views such as his. That sounds like a conspiracy theory to me. If our national broadcaster chooses not to cover his views, it is presumably for the same reason that it devotes so little airspace to those who consider the earth be flat or the moon to be made of green cheese.

Likewise, Dr House claims to be insulted at being called an anti-vaxxer. Well, so be it; but when his campaign may result in decreased vaccine take up by those who are easily persuaded, it is difficult to know where the distinction lies.

Dr House is correct to argue in favour of free speech, and the SNJ is to be congratulated on indulging him in this way over a number of years, but with free speech comes responsibility. It is simply not right to use the pandemic as an opportunity to promote ideas that are likely to harm others.

Yours sincerely

Robert Penman