Saturday, 14 January 2012

More honored in the breach...

There are said to be a number of laws still on the books of this kingdom of ours which are relicts of previous ages and which have never been repealed. Examples are the legal requirement for drivers of hackney carriages to carry on board a bale of hay for the horse and another law which requires adult males to perform one hour per day of archery practice (except Sundays).

I have no idea whether this is true or just another urban myth and, quite frankly, can't be bothered to find out. It simply doesn't matter that much.

Much more serious is the 1939 Cancer Act which was drafted in order to protect the public from the depredations of charlatans and quacks. (An interesting sidelight on this is that the Cancer Act was passed during the premiership of Neville Chamberlain, along with some even more important reforming laws such as the Factories Act, the Coal Act, and the Holidays with Pay Act. If he hadn't tried to appease the nazis, he may well have gone down in history as one of our finest prime ministers...)

Inter alia, the Cancer Act states:
"Prohibition of certain advertisements. (1) No person shall take any part in the publication of any advertisement—
(a) containing an offer to treat any person for cancer, or to prescribe any remedy therefor, or to give any advice in connection with the treatment thereof"
(my italics)

Breaches of the Cancer Act are punishable by fines and/or imprisonment and are criminal breaches.

There are numerous websites run by quacks, charlatans and cancer "charities" which - to any sensible person - contravene this act. Some of the more canny among them seem to be aware of this and try to mitigate the crime by posting lengthy disclaimers saying, in effect, well this might look like an advertisement, might read like an advertisement, might walk like an advertisement and might quack like an advertisement, but it isn't an advertisement!

I have reported a number of these sites to the relevant authorities, but - so far - no action has been taken.

Now I don't care if the next London taxi I take doesn't have a bale of hay in the boot. I just want to be taken to where I want to be in safety and comfort and in a reasonable time.

I do care if quacks and charlatans, and the honestly confused who may support and endorse them, endanger the lives of vulnerable, worried and scared cancer patients and their families.

Why won't the authorities invoke and apply the law of this country?

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