Following briefly describes some of the media coverage relating to the Gillberg affair.
In Sweden, the major newspapers (Dagens Nyheter, Göteborgs-Posten, etc.) have had tens of stories about what is now called the “Gillberg affair” (Gillbergaffären). There have also been many letters to the editors. Additionally, there was a one-hour program about DAMP on Swedish TV, which discussed the affair at length.
It is difficult to summarize the variety of positions that have been taken in the Swedish media. Broadly, supporters of Gillberg appear to outnumber critics. Many supporters, however, seem to have misperceptions about the affair, such as believing the following:
One of the most prominent publications to support Gillberg is a letter signed by 267 medical doctors. The letter states that the doctors agree with Gillberg's “refusal to hand out patient information as an obvious defense for thousand-year-old principles”. From the letter, it is clear that the doctors object to making the medical records of patients available to others.
The Gillberg affair, however, is not about medical patients. The Gillberg affair is about participants in a scientific study. And the issue that is being debated is whether or not someone other than the researchers should be allowed to see the data (so as to verify the researchers' claims about that data). Whatever the resolution of this issue is, it does not pertain to the confidentiality of regular medical records. In other words, the 267 doctors were misled about the issue.
In addition to the above, some legal scholars have claimed that the judges in the court hearings were incorrect in their understanding of the law when they ruled against Gillberg. They claimed this even though there were six court hearings and all 24 judges at those hearings ruled against Gillberg, and the judges on the Supreme Court refused to hear Gillberg's appeal.
There has been little media coverage outside Sweden, with the exception of Norway. In Norway, the newspaper Dagsavisen, in particular, ran a series of stories about the Gillberg affair.
The only English-language stories of which I am aware are two from New Zealand. There was also some coverage in the British Medical Journal: this is not mass media, but it is prestigious.
Gillberg himself has made few direct responses to the stories in the Swedish media, and he refused to participate in the TV program. He did publish a letter in the Swedish medical journal Dagens Medicin; the letter was in response to the letter from the members of the Ethics Committee (published in the same journal). Gillberg's letter claims, among other things, that the members of the Committee were telling lies in their letter.
Gillberg's letter also strongly criticizes a member of the Ethics Committee, Birgitta Strandvik. The letter claims that Strandvik and Gillberg have, for a long time, had a conflict between them; it further claims that this conflict biased Strandvik against Gillberg and that Strandvik committed misconduct by serving on the Ethics Committee without reporting the conflict. The claims seem strange: if there was such a conflict, why did Gillberg not report this at the time the Committee was considering his case? I contacted Strandvik, who e-mailed me back (on 15 January 2007) saying that the conflict “is something he invented, because we have never exchanged any bad words before this event”.
Gillberg also responded to the Norwegian stories, by publishing a letter in Dagsavisen. The letter repeats his claim that he has been investigated and cleared from any suspicion (which all the members of the Ethics Committee say is untrue) and also claims that Elinder and Kärfve were scientologists (which both deny).
Note: the following includes all the English-language news stories on the Gillberg affair that I know of; if anyone knows of others, I would appreciate being told about them.
Adlerberth A. & 266 others (23 March 2005), “267 läkare stöder Christopher Gillberg mot JO”, Dagens Medicin, p.30. [The letter in support of Gillberg that was signed by 267 doctors. In Swedish; English translation available here.]
Bagge P. (5 July 2005), “Forskarstrid: DAMP ifrågasätts från fler än ett håll”, Sveriges Television. [Summary of the televised show, which was critical; this also notes that the producers of the show “have several times tried to contact Christopher Gillberg … but Gillberg persistently refuses to defend his material in public”. In Swedish.]
Gallup R., Miller C.G., Elinder L.R., Brante T., Kärfve E., Josephson S. (July 2004), “Rapid Responses”, British Medical Journal. [Letters to the editor, in response to the article by C. White on July 10th.]
Gillberg C. (20 April 2005), “Lögn att det etiska rådet var oenigt när jag blev friad från forskningsfusk”, Dagens Medicin. [In Swedish; English translation available here.]
Lundgren O., Strandvik B., Tännsjö T., Westerhäll L. (13 April 2005), “Vi prövade aldrig om Gillberg hade fuskat”, Dagens Medicin. [An important letter by the members of the Ethics Committee. In Swedish; English translation available here.]
Nicklason L. (19 January 2005), “Gillbergaffären: Därför har den inte granskats ordentligt”, Göteborgs-Posten. [This was written by a former journalist at Gothenburg University; it gives several insights into the Gillberg affair. In Swedish; English translation available here.]
Snaprud P. (25 March 2003), “Svensk forskare friad från fuskanklagelse”, Dagens Nyheter. [An example of an article incorrectly claiming that the Chairman of the Ethics Committee investigated for fraud and did not find any; in Sweden's most-respected newspaper. In Swedish.]
White C. (10 July 2004), “Destruction of data prompts calls for Swedish agency to investigate research misconduct”, British Medical Journal, 329: 72. doi: 10.1136/bmj.329.7457.72.
White C. (23 July 2005), “Swedish court rules against doctor at centre of row over destroyed research data”, British Medical Journal, 331: 180. doi: 10.1136/bmj.331.7510.180-f.