The University of Auckland

The University of Auckland

  • Overview of Complaints to the The University of Auckland requesting correction of errors in Professor Linda Bryder’s book published by Auckland University Press

  • Clare Matheson Complaint to The University of Auckland and the University response

  • Sandra Coney and Phillida Bunkle Complaint to The University of Auckland

  • Reply from The University of Auckland to Sandra Coney and Phillida Bunkle

 

COMPLAINTS TO THE UNIVERSITY OF AUCKLAND

Professor Bryder is a professor at The University of Auckland. Her book was first published by the University of Auckland Press in 2009, before being published in Britain in 2010. Challenges about errors in the book have raised significant issues concerning the responsibility for adhering to the precepts of ethical research not only of academic authors but also of their universities and publishers.

In the preparation of her history, Professor Bryder did not seek to interview either Clare Matheson, the patient whose case was the focus of the original Unfortunate Experiment article or its authors Sandra Coney and Phillida Bunkle. All three had been Parties to the Inquiry to which they had also presented significant evidence. All three women sought public correction of errors, inaccuracies and misinterpretations of their role and motivation from The University of Auckland.

Having tried other available avenues to obtain corrections in Professor Bryder’s account of her case, Claire Matheson wrote to The University of Auckland on 2nd June 2010 concerning errors and omissions in Bryder’s account of her medical case notes and in public statements based on them, (document 1).

Matheson pointed out, not only that Professor Bryder had access to her case notes, because they were published in full in the Cartwright Report, but also that a medical paper confirming the correct interpretation of the case histories had been made available to Professor Bryder before the publication of her book.

In a response dated 7th July 2010 (document 2), The University of Auckland claimed that (i) the inaccuracies were not errors of fact but legitimate differences in interpretation; and (ii) that the University of Auckland Press was independent of The University of Auckland.

Matheson replied, pointing out a significant number of errors of fact, particularly medical facts (document 3). She also described the close interrelationship between the Auckland University Press and The University of Auckland, particularly in the Terms of Reference of the former and the high degree of commonality of their respective governing bodies. Matheson showed that there was a direct line of responsibility between the governing Board of the University of Auckland Press and the Senate of The University of Auckland.

Sandra Coney and Phillida Bunkle also sought public corrections from The University of Auckland for some serious errors which were highly detrimental to themselves and their role (document 4). In particular Coney and Bunkle pointed to multiple errors in a passage in Professor Bryder’s book which leads readers to believe that the High Court and the Solicitor-General of New Zealand had acknowledged that their article and the Cartwright Report were based on errors in the methodology of the 1984 McIndoe paper.

Coney and Bunkle documented that in this passage Professor Bryder errors were based on her reliance on secondary sources and, more seriously, that she had selected only those portions of the sources which supported her assertions while omitting those portions of the same texts which contradicted it.

Ten months latter, 3rd June, 2011, the University of Auckland dismissed their complaint (document 5).

 

1. CLARE MATHESON – REQUEST FOR CORRECTION MADE TO THE UNIVERSITY OF AUCKLAND

Dear Mr Greville
I am forwarding to you an article that appeared in the Otago Daily Times (ODT) on 18 May 2010. The content of this article concerns and disturbs me for two reasons – as described below. Please consider this as a formal complaint about the publication of a book by Professor Linda Bryder. I ask for the same response from the University as that given to Professor Richard Seddon in relation to the mistake about him in Professor Bryder’s book. That is, I ask for an apology from the author and the Auckland University Press and the addition of an errata sheet acknowledging errors about my situation in all copies of the book that have not been sold.

First, the Otago Daily Times reports that an Auckland University spokesman said that the University had received no complaints about the content of Professor Bryder’s book A History of the ‘Unfortunate Experiment’ at National Women’s Hospital other than that of Professor Richard Seddon. Secondly, the ODT stated that an errata sheet had now been inserted in copies of the book still for sale.

Since the publication of this book I have complained to the Board of the Auckland University Press, to you, to the History department of Auckland University and to Grant Wills.

There has been considerable correspondence between me and members of the university staff. I have also complained publicly in the media. To say that there has been only one complaint, namely that of Professor Seddon is incorrect and I ask for a public acknowledgement of this error.

Professor Bryder has apologised in the media for one error made in regard to my history, that is, that all my children were born after I first attended National Women’s. Only my last child was born after that time, but no errata sheet has been inserted in the book. Other more serious errors, because they relate to a grossly misleading impression that I received reasonable treatment from Dr Green, have not been acknowledged to the public and none to me personally.

The errors (in addition to the one above) which must be addressed are listed below. Please note that these are a very small proportion of the errors in the book but of the ones that relate to me personally the three below are major.  (Many others have been described in The Cartwright Papers, Bridget Williams Books 2009.)

ERRORS IN THE DESCRIPTION OF MY CLINICAL STATE WHEN I  WAS
DISCHARGED FROM NATIONAL WOMEN’S IN 1979

(a)     On page 63, Bryder writes that I was discharged ‘following five negative smears in 1979’. This implies that the negative smears were evidence that my disease had been successfully treated. This was definitely not the case. She omits that I had histological evidence of persistent carcinoma in situ (or worse) at the time of my discharge. In 1977, the last histology report before my discharge from National Women’s, on a curette from the endocervix, was of ‘fragments of carcinoma devoid of underlying stroma, probably carcinoma in situ’. (Emphasis added.) I was discharged not with evidence that my disease had been cured, but with evidence of persisting CIS (histology overrides smear findings). I had no treatment following this report of carcinoma.

(b)    On page 64, Bryder writes that Green ‘pointed out that Matheson had returned five negative smears over a period of five years and a negative clinical examination before she was discharged’ and then goes on to say: ‘Richart told the Inquiry that the endpoint of treatment for him was three negative smears…and no sign of clinical disease’. The comparison with Richart’s statement is wrong because it again omits the presence of the histology report showing carcinoma (which overrides both smears and symptoms, as CIS is generally a symptomless disease).

(c)     On page 191, Bryder finally mentions that I did have an abnormal histology report (omitted on page 63 and 64) but she makes another serious error. She writes: ‘Kolstad…had not seen (my) complete file  and had not realised that (I) had five grade 1 (negative) smears and one equivocal report of probably carcinoma in situ in four years preceding (my) discharge.’ It is not clear from this whose mistake it is: Bryder, Collins (Green’s Lawyer), or Kolstad. But it is wrong. I had a histology report, as above, which was not equivocal but showed carcinoma. The uncertainty was simply between whether my report indicated invasive cancer or carcinoma in situ, because the tissue was ‘devoid of underlying stroma’. The fact that the fragments were devoid of underlying stroma means that the pathologist could not determine whether the carcinoma was in situ or whether microinvasion, or worse, had occurred. This report was dismissed by Professor Green as ‘surprising’, and on my next clinical visit I was discharged.  False negative smears are not uncommon especially when the patient has undergone multiple biopsies, and in my case the tissue sample proved to be positive.

MY FULL CASE HISTORY
I spell out below my case history as laid out in my clinical records so that you can see for yourself what is at stake.

I was first diagnosed with carcinoma in situ (CIS) of the cervix in 1965. At that time I received a diagnostic punch biopsy only and no treatment. After that I attended National Women’s a further 31 times over the next 14 years without being given treatment to cure the disease. After my first diagnosis, I was followed with persistently positive smears (ten positive smears over the next five years) until 1970. In 1970 I had a general anaesthetic and biopsies of part of the abnormal areas. These showed CIS with microinvasion, and smears taken two months and nine months later continued to be abnormal (for instance in December 1970 the report said ‘cells conclusive for malignancy’). In 1971 I had another general anaesthetic and a cone biopsy. The report again showed CIS with microinvasion and reported incomplete excision of the abnormal area. At the end of 1971 smears were again abnormal and I had another general anaesthetic and a partial (wedge) biopsy of he cervix. The pathology report again showed CIS. From 1972 to 1975 I had a further four abnormal smears. In 1976 I had another general anaesthetic and a ring biopsy of the cervix. The report was ‘CIS of the cervix, the excision appears to be incomplete’. Over the following year I had five normal smears. In 1977 I had an examination under anaesthetic and dilatation of the cervix. The reason Dr Green gave for this was ‘cervical stenosis following repeated ring biopsies of the cervix.’ A biopsy was taken in the canal of the cervix above the narrow cervical opening. This showed ‘fragments of carcinoma devoid of underlying stroma, probably CIS.’ At that point Dr Green wrote that the pathology report was ‘somewhat surprising’ but I was discharged from National Women’s, still with (at least) CIS. In 1985 my general practitioner referred me to a private specialist because of symptoms of invasive cancer. I was treated with caesium rods placed in the cervix for 36 hours followed six weeks later by a Wertheim’s hysterectomy and pelvic lymphadenectomy entailing the removal of the uterus, ovaries and lymph nodes.
My case is discussed in the Cartwright report, and the cases of other women who also received multiple incomplete biopsies. On page 42 there is a quote from an expert witness Dr C. Laverty from Sydney: ‘The scarring and stenosis which may follow multiple cone biopsies could theoretically worsen the problem because of the greater difficulty in gaining access to the residual disease left in the endocervical canal’. And Judge Cartwright concluded in regard to my case: (page 46) ‘The constriction of the cervix not only prevented reliable smear tests being taken but also caused painful menstruation.’ The pattern of these repeated incomplete cervical biopsies and repeatedly positive smears is consistent with the Cartwright report account of Dr Green’s management of women with CIS.

As an historian Bryder had a responsibility to clarify the facts. She had access to my complete file as it is in both my book, Fate Cries Enough and as Appendix 11 to the Cartwright Report.

New research has now established conclusively that Professor Bryder’s theory is wrong, that Green was undertaking an experiment at National Women’s Hospital which involved withholding curative treatment for a potentially pre-cancerous condition, that as a result his patients face a significantly higher risk of developing cancer, and that some, like me, did do so and some died.

The full research paper can be found on:

http://www3interscience.wiley.com/journal/122265675/issue

I also point out that the information in this paper was included in the paper presented by Professor Charlotte Paul at the Cartwright Conference in 2008 and that it was provided to Linda Bryder and to the chair of the Auckland University Press before Bryder’s book was published.

REQUIRED CORRECTION

In order to correct these matters (a) to (c), I request that you insert an errata sheet into unsold books with a statement that Professor Bryder acknowledges that she has omitted crucial facts from my case history and that the full case history shows that my management was experimental. Then refer the reader to Fate Cries Enough and to Appendix 11 of the Cartwright report.

This correction is sought as a matter of academic standards which require the truth be adhered to, and as a justifiable claim in relation to acknowledging my true circumstances.
I will be expecting to hear back from you within the next fortnight.

Yours sincerely,
Clare Matheson

 

2. REPLY FROM THE UNIVERSITY TO CLARE MATHESON

Dear Mrs Matheson,

Thank you for your email of 28 June. I have enquired further into the matters raised in this and your earlier message and respond as follows.

The Otago Daily Times’ report that a University of Auckland spokesperson had said there were no other complaints about Professor Bryder’s book was wrong.In fact, the University was asked whether there were any threats of legal action and the ODT reporter was told that there were not. Unfortunately, the reporter garbled both the question and our spokesperson’s answer so that it seemed that it was claimed that there were no other complaints about the book. This was clearly, and absurdly, wrong. As you know, the book has generated a great deal of comment, some in the form of complaint, some in the form of praise. This is what one would expect of a scholarly treatment of an important and controversial topic.

The University has received a number of other letters from you which raise questions about Professor Bryder’s book. These have been responded to by Mr Grant Wills, Professor Raewyn Dalziel for the Department of History and Professor Nola for the AUP Board. As has been stated, we maintain the principles of scholarship, rigorous review, and academic freedom, even where the results of research give rise to controversy.

The University is firm in its view that the other issues raised in your earlier message concern matters of interpretation. You refer under (a) to what might be implied from Professor Bryder’s account, under (b) to her understanding of the relationship between statements made by Drs. Green and Richart and under (c) to questions about Dr Kolstad’s understanding of your case. None of these matters can reasonably be considered avoidable errors of fact warranting an apology. You may disagree with Professor Bryder’s interpretation of Kolstad’s position but that does not mean that she had no right to offer it.

By contrast, one of Professor Bryder’s references to Professor Seddon reported a view held by a contemporary of Professor Seddon’s that was taken in good faith from what she had good reason to think was a reliable source. She was mistaken in this belief and has, as a result, apologised to Professor Seddon and to the University. As noted in the preceding paragraph, your claims against Professor Bryder raise questions of interpretation and they thus differ from that raised by Professor Seddon.

Finally, I should emphasise that Auckland University Press is not the publishing arm of the University; its role as a scholarly press depends upon it operating independently of the University in all editorial matters. If Professor Bryder’s book is reprinted by the Press, the question of any changes made to it will be a matter for the publisher and the author to determine.

Sincerely

Tim Greville
Registrar
The University of Auckland

 

3. CLARE MATHESON’S SECOND REPLY TO THE UNIVERSITY

Dear Mr Greville

I write in response to the letter received from Ruth Taylor that was written on your behalf and I request that you grant me the respect of reading objectively what I now write. I will make this as brief as I can.

Yes. I have written to a number of people at the University of Auckland and as yet have not received a reply that addresses any of the issues I have raised or provides me with the slightest feeling that any serious consideration has been given to my concerns.

I now spell some of them out as simply as I can in the hope that there will be no misunderstanding.

I commence, as a guideline, with the error made in respect of Professor Seddon which arose as the result of accepting hearsay.

The statement made by Professor Bryder in regard to Professor Seddon was incorrect, and was not open to interpretation. Professor Seddon has received an apology.

Professor Bryder stated P193, that I was a deputy principal during the time I was attending the clinic. Incorrect, and not open to interpretation.

Professor Bryder stated P 65, that all my children were born after I first attended National Women’s Hospital gynaecological clinic. Incorrect and not open to interpretation. Prior to National Women’s I had had two children and a late miscarriage. My last child was born in 1966. Bryder maintains that she got this information from Coney and Bunkle’s Metro article. What Bryder wrote in her book is not in the Metro article as Bryder said.

Professor Bryder stated P 193, that I moved between the public and private sectors of the health service during the time I was attending Professor Green’s clinic. Incorrect and not open to interpretation.

In her book Bryder stated P64, that ‘In her book, Matheson wrote that she should have had a cone biopsy in 1964 which would have saved all the subsequent visits to the hospital.’ Incorrect. I did not use the term ‘cone biopsy’. I did not say ‘should have’. I did not say ‘would have.’ There is a vast difference between ‘cone biopsy’ and ‘definitive biopsy’ which is what I wrote, and between ‘ should have’ and ‘had I had’ which is what I wrote, and between ‘would have’ and ‘might have’ which is what I wrote. Again, not open to interpretation and the quote, misrepresented as it is, was taken completely out of context.

Then there are the ‘errors’ of omission.

On P 124 Bryder writes that the Auckland Women’s Health Council gave Silvia Cartwright a presentation. It is customary to give speakers at a conference a presentation. As a speaker, I got one too. So did Sandra Coney who spoke. There was no special treatment for Silvia Cartwright which appears to be the implication.

The most important error of omission is Bryder’s faulty account of my medical records. She makes much of the fact that I had had five negative smears prior to discharge from Green’s clinic. She disregards the fact that my last histology report showed the presence of carcinoma – a report she describes as ‘equivocal’. She disregards the fact that I was discharged in spite of this report. Even if the report was equivocal which it was not, as some form of carcinoma was present, any good practitioner would not discharge a patient until the degree or stage of carcinoma had been clarified and addressed. To do so would be failing in one’s fiduciary duty. That histology report was and still is, not open to interpretation.

All of this misinformation could have been avoided had Bryder read my book Fate Cries Enough (1989) which she has listed in her bibliography. The errors of which I speak relate to simple, straightforward and easily proven facts. If the University considers this to be maintaining ‘the principles of scholarship, rigorous review, and academic freedom’ then it is a sad day for what has always been one of the proudest educational institutions in New Zealand.

I feel that Bryder has used my medical case and my personal history, incorrectly, to support her polemic and this without approaching me as a primary resource. She appears to have misrepresented facts about me in order to strengthen her thesis. I object to this very strongly.

I regard the statement that the AUP operates independently of the University and that the University has no responsibility to address my complaints, more than a little confusing.

In the Spring 2009 edition of Ingenio, there was an article introducing Sam Ellsworthy as the new editor of AUP under the heading ‘Staff Profile.’
All the members of the AUP Board are members of the University staff with the exception of one member from outside the University, and the Chair is appointed by the Vice Chancellor. The University Press Board reports to the Senate. The first term of reference of the Board is ‘To determine policy for the University of Auckland Press’, with the third term of reference being, ‘To exercise overall direction and monitor the financial performance of the Press’.

As the AUP board is comprised almost entirely of University staff and is bound to report to the Senate, the standards of the University are inevitably reflected in the standards and policy of the Press. It is surely therefore, a major concern for the University if the Press errs in its judgement, and in its review process, and it seems logical that the University should take steps (as it did in the case of Professor Seddon) to make good any errors or offence that may have occurred following the publication of a work by one of its own staff. At the end of the day to say that the Press operates independently of the University, sounds like a nonsense.

It is only just that an errata sheet correcting these errors be inserted in all unsold copies of Bryder’s book in New Zealand and in the reprint of the book in the UK under the title Women’s Bodies and Medical Science. I do not see why I should expect anything less, and I sincerely hope that you will regard my request in a positive light and agree that the author, a member of the Auckland University staff, should apologise and be held accountable for these errors.

There are other errors that are misleading of a reader but I have outlined the blatant and very obvious ones only, those which could have been avoided so easily with a little more care in research and methodology.

As I feel that I have been ‘fobbed off’ by the University for some considerable time, I look forward to an immediate and positive response to my complaints.

Sincerely
Clare Matheson (Mrs)

 

4. LETTER TO AUCKLAND UNIVERSITY FROM PHILLIDA BUNKLE & SANDRA CONEY 

Stuart N McCutcheon
Vice-Chancellor
University of Auckland
Private Bag 92019
Auckland 1142
20 August 2010

Dear Professor McCutcheon,

We have recently had drawn to our attention that the University has maintained that no one other than the University of Otago has complained about inaccuracies in the book by Linda Bryder “A History of the ‘Unfortunate Experiment’ at National Women’s Hospital”, published by the Auckland University Press.

There are many errors in the Bryder book relating to our roles in the Inquiry, as well as other matters of concern to us. It is a wasteful and onerous task for those of us who have been misrepresented in this book to document this, however, this is the first of such documentation you will receive from us.
Please consider this as a complaint.

The details of this complaint are as follows:

On page 158 of the book, Linda Bryder writes:
“ Valerie Smith did, however, attempt to challenge the findings of the Inquiry in the High Court and Dr Faris joined her at the last moment. In the event, the case was withdrawn because of her lack of status in relation to the Committee of Inquiry and because of Faris’s delay in initiating proceedings. Solicitor-General John McGrath, while agreeing that Coney, Bunkle and Cartwright had misinterpreted the McIndoe paper, explained that he was disallowing it because of the time lapse since the Inquiry findings in August 1988. [footnote 48]. He also commented that too much money and effort had been spent on implementing the findings of the report for these to be challenged as invalid. That expenditure included plans and discussions for government legislation to establish a health commissioner, patient advocates and ethics committees, and $14 million to launch a nationwide cervical screening programme – ‘we have to face the fact that the world has moved on,’ he said. [Footnote 49]. At least, Smith observed, the Solicitor-General did acknowledge that the McIndoe paper, which was central to the Inquiry, did not describe a prospective division of patients into two differently treated groups, as the original Metro article had claimed. [Reference 50]”.

1. Inadequate sources
Dr Bryder uses inadequate sources for this passage. All three references used to support this passage, come from secondary sources .
Reference 48 is a letter from Valerie Smith to Metro magazine, October 1990, pp16-17.
Reference 49 is Auckland Star 1 August 1990
Reference 50 is Auckland Star 8 August 1990. This is a letter by Valerie Smith.
References 48 and 50 sources should have been treated with caution as sources because they are letters from the First Applicant to the legal proceedings, a well-known and vociferous advocate for Dr Green. However, Dr Bryder uses them as factual.
Reference 49 is a newspaper report. While this is essentially correct, Dr Bryder misrepresents this source.

In an academic work, we could expect that Dr Bryder would, as a priority, go back to the primary sources that existed. The first primary source is the ”Application to Strike Out Statement of Claim: Outline of Second Respondent’s Submissions”. The Second Respondent is the Attorney General and the document was prepared by JJ McGrath QC, Solicitor-General and MT Scholtens, Counsel for the Second Respondent.
The second primary source is the Court Order related to this Statement of Claim dated 21 August 1990, issued from Justice Barker in the High Court.
An important secondary source is the Auckland District Law Society “Review of the Recent Criticisms of the Report of the Cervical Cancer Inquiry 1988”, dated 18 October 1990.
None of these sources has been used by Dr Bryder.

2. Failure to correctly describe the process
Dr Bryder makes an error of fact when she states that “the case was withdrawn”. The case was not withdrawn, it was struck out by consent and the proceedings dismissed. This is outlined in the Court Order; in the Auckland District Law Society Review, page 1; in the book edited by Sandra Coney, Unfinished Business :What happened to the Cartwright Report, 1993, page 15 (Dr Bryder lists this in her Bibliography); and in the 1 August 1990 Auckland Star report Dr Bryder cites as her Reference 49.
For the sake of explanation, the Auckland District Law Society provides an accurate outline of the process which states that
“The challenges have, most recently, taken two forms: first, Court proceedings by way of a judicial review brought late in April 1990 by Mrs BB Smith (a neighbour of Dr Herbert Green) and secondly, an article appearing in the July 1990 issue of “Metro” magazine entitled “Second Thoughts on the Unfortunate Experiment at National Women’s Hospital”.
At the High Court in Auckland on the 1st day of August 1990 the Honourable Justice Barker ordered the proceedings for judicial review brought by Mrs Smith be struck out. The order was made on the application of the Attorney-General, and Mrs Smith consented to the application. In doing so, Mrs Smith conceded the grounds upon which she relied had no substance and she acknowledged by her Counsel that she herself had misunderstood the Judge’s finding in regard to the McIndoe paper.” (page 1)
In describing the Application for Judicial Review, Dr Bryder did not use any of these primary sources, but it is less easy to understand why she ignored the correct description contained in Unfinished Business (since the book is listed in her bibliography) and in the 1 August 1990 news report in the Auckland Star which she cites (Reference 49).
These sources of information provid the correct story. However Dr Bryder ignores these and instead uses Mrs Smith’s incorrect version contained in her letters to the media.

3.Role of Solicitor-General
Dr Bryder makes an error of fact in stating that Solicitor-General John McGrath “explained that he was disallowing it……”
It was not Mr McGrath but Justice Barker in the High Court who made the decision in the case. Mr McGrath was representing the First Respondent; he was opposing the action by Mrs Smith and Dr Faris.

All the claims made by Dr Bryder as to the reasons for Mr McGrath “disallowing” the claim were actually legal arguments from Mr McGrath and Mrs Scholtens in their “Application to Strike Out”, which apparently Dr Bryder has not seen.
In a work of scholarship, we can expect that the writer familiarises herself with and describes correctly the legal process.
Indeed, an accurate description of the legal process was close at hand for Dr Bryder. The Auckland Star report (her Reference 49) contains the correct information when it states that
“Mr Justice Barker struck out the proceedings by consent….”
However, Dr Bryder inexplicably discards this version in favour of Mrs Smith’s version and consequently commits a significant error.

4.Reasons for the failure of the claim
We will now run through the arguments Dr Bryder recites for the failure of the claims by Mrs Smith and Dr Faris. While the “Application to Strike Out” does discuss Mrs Smith’s lack of status, the time lapse, and the potential of the action to undermine the work done by Government and health agencies to implement the Report, more was said than this, but this is not reported by Dr Bryder.

Further reasons were given by the Solicitor-General for applying for the strike out. These were: that it is wrong in principle to allow an outsider to take an action which would drag into litigation persons directly affected who have chosen not to take action themselves; delay by the applicants in bringing the action (not just Dr Faris as Bryder contends, but also Mrs Smith herself), that Mrs Smith’s allegations of bias against Judge Cartwright had no substance, that her allegations about the report itself lacked particulars, that they were irrelevant, and that they amounted to submissions.

Dr Bryder gives an inaccurate description of the strike out because she relied on Mrs Smith’s partisan version of events, rather than going back to primary sources herself. It would be expected that Mrs Smith would put the most favourable interpretation of events, which provides even more reason why Dr Bryder should not have accepted Mrs Smith’s letters as factual sources.

5. Claims that Mr McGrath said that “Coney, Bunkle and Cartwright had misinterpreted” the 1984 paper
Dr Bryder is incorrect when she writes that Mr McGrath “while agreeing that Coney, Bunkle and Cartwright had misinterpreted the McIndoe paper….”
Her source for this is the letter by Mrs Smith published in Metro in October 1990.
Reference to the newspaper article (Reference 49)which reported events at the time, shows it contained the following passage, attributed to Mrs Smith’s counsel, Mr Kevin Ryan:

“She[Mrs Smith] now realised after listening to the Solicitor-General’s submissions that she was wrong in thinking Judge Cartwright had relied on a Metro magazine article in her findings.
Judge Cartwright had not misinterpreted a study on cervical cancer which the Metro journalists got wrong, Mr Ryan said.”
This quote makes clear that Mrs Smith and her lawyer accepted that Judge Cartwright had not misinterpreted the study, yet Dr Bryder writes, “McGrath…[agreed] …Cartwright had misinterpreted the McIndoe paper”, and she wrongly ascribes this statement to Mr McGrath. As Dr Bryder had the newspaper report quoted above, and cites it in the same paragraph, it is not credible that she cannot have known she was making incorrect statements.

Next, the quoted newspaper article also makes clear that Mr McGrath did not make any statement as to Ms Bunkle and my interpretation of the 1984 paper. There is no evidence anywhere in the primary and secondary sources, except those emanating from Mrs Smith, to support the statement that Mr McGrath maintained we misinterpreted the 1984 paper, as Dr Bryder states. This was a claim made by Mrs Smith’s counsel, Mr Ryan, and later by Mrs Smith. Dr Bryder’s reference for this claim is a letter to Metro by Mrs Smith.

The fact that this claim is attributed by Dr Bryder to the Solicitor-General obviously gives it much more weight and authority and is more damaging to myself and Ms Bunkle than had it been correctly attributed to Mrs Smith’s counsel or to Mrs Smith herself.
This aspect of Dr Bryder’s treatment of this passage is very disturbing from the point of view of academic scholarship. In the sentence beginning “He[Mr McGrath] also commented….”, Dr Bryder uses the Auckland Star report to reference her statement s about why the case was “withdrawn”.

However, when she claims we made errors, she switches to a reference for a letter by Mrs Smith. We can only conclude this is because the newspaper report (Reference 49) does not support her claim that Mr McGrath made these statements, so she has switched references.

This seems to us a very grievous “error”, if it can be called an error; Dr Bryder has used references selectively to suit her “case”. She ignores the part of the Auckland Star report that does not suit her contention and instead relies on the statement by Mrs Smith.
We also note that in making her most damaging claims about our work, Dr Bryder relied on a letter written by Mrs Smith two months after the High Court action. Mrs Smith was much more circumspect in her comments immediately after the legal proceedings. By October 1990 she was being more extravagant in her claims and had reverted to overt criticism of Judge Cartwright. She was also circulating documents alleging “conspiracies” between people even peripherally involved in the Inquiry, such as Dr Peter Davis. Dr Bryder must have seen these. This should have alerted her to the need to be extremely cautious with any claims made by Mrs Smith and to investigate the factual background of such claims.

However, Dr Bryder treats these sources as factual and as a result has made significant errors of fact. These are damaging to us. Claims in a letter to the editor under the name of a known supporter of Dr Green can be assessed for what they are. To repeat them in an apparently scholarly book under the imprimatur of the University of Auckland gives them much more substance and weight.

6. Inaccurate version of the whole episode
The inaccurate version that Dr Bryder gives, implies that Mrs Smith was right and the action only failed over her standing and lapse of time. Dr Bryder presents it as a moral victory if not a legal one. However, not only was there no acknowledgement during the process that Mrs Smith was right, indeed she acknowledged she was wrong, but the reasons for the action failing were wider than those acknowledged in the book. Overall, the wrong impression is given by Dr Bryder through the sum of these inaccuracies.

7. Division of patients in 1984 paper
The final sentence in the passage from page 158 of the book quoted above is ascribed to Mrs Smith: it states that the original Metro article claimed there was a prospective division of patients. The Metro article did not claim this. The Metro article made clear that the division of patients was for the purposes of the 1984 study. Therefore Dr Bryder’s statement is incorrect and the whole passage lacks balance as she did not seek a response from us or our view.

The basis of Mrs Smith’s claim that Ms Coney and Bunkle were wrong about the 1984 paper, seems to be the statement that Judge Cartwright did not rely on the Metro article. However, this does not imply any criticism of the Metro article. It is simply a statement of the fact that the judge went back to sources such as women’s medical records and original hospital documents and also testimony from experts and women. Indeed, the Terms of Reference for the Committee of Inquiry required her to look into “allegations” by Sandra Coney and Phillida Bunkle in Metro magazine. This is all laid out on pages 4-5 of the Cartwright Report. Rather than rely on the Metro article, the judge was required to scrutinise it; her conclusions are on pages 94-99 of her report.

8. Further passage repeating errors
On page 160 of Dr Bryder’s book, in paragraph two, she reiterates some of the incorrect statements from page 158. Reference 50 for this is an article by Jan Corbett “Have you been burned at the stake yet?”, published in Metro in October 1990. In this passage Dr Bryder once again repeats the assertion: “She[Corbett] reminded readers of the Solicitor-General’s acknowledgment that the original Metro article was wrong in its interpretation of the two groups of National Women’s patients, adding that this was the first time this had been officially recognised.”

This is described as fact, rather than as the claims of Mrs Smith, reiterated by Ms Corbett.
In this paragraph, however, she does mentions the role of Justice Barker in making the decision, thereby contradicting her version given two pages earlier.

Conclusion
These errors by Dr Bryder misrepresent and reflect poorly on the quality of the work by me and Phillida Bunkle. They are errors that could easily have been avoided had Dr Bryder consulted primary and credible sources, rather than partisan sources, or had she interviewed us as people involved at the time and affected by her claims. The error in ascribing to the Solicitor-General criticism of our work, and failing to correctly ascribe it to Mrs Smith and her counsel, we take particularly seriously.

We request that an addendum correcting the errors be inserted in all unsold copies of Dr Bryder’s book, both in New Zealand and overseas; that the errors be corrected in any future editions; and that a public statement be made by Dr Bryder and the University acknowledging these errors. We expect to agree to the wording of the addendum, the wording of the corrections and the University statement.

Yours sincerely

Sandra Coney

Phillida Bunkle

 

5. REPLY FROM AUCKLAND UNIVERSITY

ConeyBunkleResponse_LET_2011-06-03

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