A reply to Professor Rob Howard

From: Dr Peter Gordon
Sent: 18 September 2020
To: Professor Robert Howard

Dear Rob,
Thank you for this. I am grateful.

I felt that I needed to reply because I do not agree with your summary. My concern was with behaviour by professionals that departed from the Core Values of the College and GMC Guidance on Doctors Use of Social Media. It is entirely legitimate to raise concerns about this and I want to give you one last prompt to reflect on this.

I shared your own words and set the context of the extant guidance. Meantime you have described me on social media in unpleasant terms and questioned my mental health having diagnosed me by a BINGO card.

I have not read your Tweets nor those of Dr Mark Swinton as I have found the language you used to describe me as unnecessarily derogatory and some weeks ago decided not to look at Twitter again. Other people have also experienced distress as a result of your use of language on social media and at least one individual was left suicidal as a result.

Telling truth to power is not easy and sometimes may require persistence. The intention is not to cause upset but to facilitate understanding.

I feel liberated having made the difficult decision to retire from psychiatry but can reflect warmly on the good working relationships I had with my colleagues. I will also miss the insight into the lives of others that comes from contact with patients.

I do not intend to write to you further and wish you well.


Prof Rob Howard, a Member of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, a former College Dean, and recipient of a College Lifetime Achievement Award:

(1) has stated that advocating for transparency in science is a “misguided pursuit”
(2) is of the view that Realistic Medicine has common-ground with Scientology
(3)  considers antidepressant withdrawal symptoms  to be “rare” and “not the issue that some are suggesting”
(4) describes members of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Prescribed Drug Dependence as “shadowy”
(5) regularly uses demeaning, loaded, provocative, and catch-all terms to describe those who share experiences of psychiatric treatments that he considers invalid due to lack of RCT evidence
(6) labels patients who have been mis-diagnosed with dementia as “Munchausen’s portrayals”
(7) asks others “to reflect on their behaviour” yet never acknowledges the distress that his social media behaviour routinely causes to many vulnerable people
(8) has expressed his view, as a registered doctor, that raising legitimate concerns in relation to College Core Values  amounts to “harassment” and is a reflection of “sadistic” behaviour by those concerned that professional values are not being followed
(9) has stated that he “does not recognise” wilful blindness.

Testimonial for Dr Peter Gordon [retired NHS psychiatrist]:

Professor Sir Simon Wessely was President of the College before President Burn. In February of this year, at the time of my retiral from Medicine, I shared some of the kind messages that I had from colleagues, patients and carers.  Sir Simon kindly sent me this message by reply: “I would also like to wish you all the best for your retirement, and to recognise the depth of your commitment to your patients and the NHS over the years, and also to your honesty and integrity in a world where both these qualities can be short supply.  I wish you well”