Tim Noakes appeal: 'Where are the bodies?'
Low carb advocate determined to take the matter to the high court if he loses appeal
Low carb hero Professor Tim Noakes has vowed to go all the way to the high court if he loses the appeal about his infamous tweet.
This despite his legal costs already standing at around R2-million.
He will also end his membership with the Health Professions Council of SA ( HPCSA), which he pays for yearly to remain a registered doctor.
“The whole case is fraudulent and frivolous,” said Noakes.
A three-day appeal started on Wednesday. The HPCSA is appealing against a ruling that Noakes did not act unprofessionally when he gave a pregnant woman advice in a tweet.
Noakes says he believes the complaint was driven by dieticians who were threatened by his popularity and diet books.
“This is what it happened. We wrote the Real Meal Revolution diet book. A guy then wrote a News24 article on it. It had 120,000 views and more than 100 comments. The majority of comments were negative about dieticians.”
Noakes said dietitians felt threatened by the backlash against them.
“They felt threatened. The dietitians were driving it. They wanted to shut me up and they want to stop the low carb die ... Once we win the case, the public will realise the information dietitians give is not right.”The four-year-long saga began after Johannesburg mother Pippa Leenstra asked him on Twitter if the low carb high fat diet was okay for breastfeeding babies.
She was worried that the broccoli and cauliflower popular in the Noakes Banting diet would give her baby wind.
Noakes’s tweet to her responded: “Baby doesn’t eat the dairy and cauliflower. Just very healthy high-fat breast milk. Key is to ween (sic) baby onto LCHF [ low carb high fat].”
As a result dietitian, and president of of Association for Dietetics in SA, Claire Julsing-Strydom complained about Noakes to the HPCSA.
Noakes’s lawyer, Adam Pike, said outside the hearing on Wednesday that the tweet did not cause any harm. “Where are the bodies?” Pike asked.
Much of the case looked at whether doctors can give advice on Twitter without examining a patient and the difference between what constitutes treatment on social media versus general health information.
The case also debated if a low-carbohydrate, high-fat diet was safe for babies.
After many postponements, Noakes was found not guilty of unprofessional conduct.
Now the council is appealing the 2017 finding that cleared him.Noakes believes if he loses his second case, the HPCSA will censor what all registered doctors write on Twitter.
The appeal board is made up of a sports doctor Bobby Ramasia, advocate Justice Mogosti and a lawyer Xoliswa Bacela.
Argument by both sides is expected to be done by Friday.
Much of the appeal surrounds the technical issue in the ruling that found that the HPCSA had failed to prove Noakes had a doctor-patient relationship with the tweeter, which was deemed necessary for the charge.
But the HPCSA advocate Ajay Bhoopchand SC says the council shouldn’t have had to prove a doctor-patient relationship is necessary for a complaint to be laid.Despite Noakes’s claim that the HPCSA was trying to censor doctors on Twitter, the HPCSA advocate disagreed.
“This case has nothing to do with doctors participating on Twitter,” Bhoopchand argued.
He said doctors could tweet, but could not do so outside of their area of expertise.
“He gave advice to a baby and he didn’t have expertise to give advice on that matter. This is not an adult running the Comrades."