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My views on drug misuse were too dangerous

Our Government will not tolerate politically incorrect views on the need for tight control of drugs – even when they're backed by good evidence, says Dr Hans-Christian Raabe.

Imagine – you are appointed to a position as an adviser to the Government. Immediately, a witch-hunt commences, started by anonymous activists. They try anything to discredit you and eventually find something, even if only a few sentences, written by you six years ago, and which has nothing to do with your position. The Government caves in and your appointment is revoked. No appeal possible.

Is this Ahmadinejad's Iran? Stalin's Russia? No, welcome to totalitarian Britain in 2011. This is what happened to me. After an interview with the Home Office, I was appointed in January as a GP adviser among nine new members of the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs – a three-year, unpaid position.

For many years, I have had a keen interest in the subject of substance misuse. I see daily the devastation that drugs cause. I gained the RCGP certificate in the management of substance misuse in primary care.

I read widely on the subject and organised several parlia-mentary consultations on drugs. I travelled to study the drugs policies of other countries and came back impressed with the Swedish approach.

Everyone knows about the Dutch model (which, by the way, is being changed to a much stricter approach) but not many know about Sweden. Sweden decided on a zero-tolerance approach to drug misuse, focusing on prevention and reducing demand – and implementing widespread use of drug testing. It now has among the lowest rates of substance misuse in Western Europe – much lower than the UK, which has probably the continent's worst drug problem, and also much lower than in the Netherlands. Its approach is completely different to the UK, where we only have a ‘phoney war' on drugs.

What does all this have to do with the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs? Obviously, my views and presence must have been threatening to some, for immediately after my appointment all hell broke loose. I think my ‘crime' for the politically correct brigade had to do with two things: firstly, that I have very clear views on drug prevention and demand reduction, and secondly, that I am a committed Christian. So I must be a dangerous person indeed.

The activists who wanted to get rid of me had to trawl through the myriad documents I had written or co-authored to find something against me. Eventually, they found a paper that had been on the internet (not, by the way, published by me) for nearly six years. In 2005, when I was in Canada, the Canadian Parliament was debating whether or not to legalise same-sex marriage. Summarising scientific evidence that in itself obviously has been in the public domain, this paper was put together and circulated to Canadian MPs. What really seemed to cause so much ‘embarrassment', so the Home Office tells me, was one paragraph reporting that there was a ‘disproportionately greater number of homosexuals among paedophiles'.

However, more embarrassingly for the Home Office, in a 1998 publication they made exactly the same point. This led one commentator, Christian Medical Fellowship chief executive Dr Peter Saunders, to write: ‘So let's get this right. The Home Office has sacked Dr Raabe for saying what a Home Office document says.'

My appointment has been revoked – after high-profile media coverage – based on the wrong perception that I could potentially discriminate against gay people; something I have never done, either in my private or professional life. I was sacrificed on the altar of political correctness and have been discriminated against on the basis of my opinion and faith. Something similar could happen to anyone, of any faith or none, if he or she dares to have some views deemed not to be politically correct. This is the new totalitarianism of political correctness, which – ultimately – will lead to the abolition of freedom of speech, of thought and of opinion, and will even interfere with the pursuit of medical research.

Dr Hans-Christian Raabe is a GP in Manchester

Dr Hans-Christian Raabe