Our website has been criticised, indeed severely criticised, if not actually attacked. The criticism comes from the Medical Defence Union through its Dublin solicitors.
It alleges it has been defamed in our article (now deleted) and that the article contained several inaccurate statements.
We see, from the solicitorsâ letter (to which we have made reply), there are a number of matters in our article with which the MDU do not take issue. They are:
a) â[MDU]â¦ offers membership to doctors for a year. That may or may not be renewed.â?
b) âMedical practitioner members are not contractually entitled to indemnity from the MDU; they are offered the benefit of the serious consideration of the MDU to extend an indemnity. That is, MDU will not lightly refuse an indemnity. If it does indemnify, it will behave just like an insurer, but if not, not.â?
c) âA doctor and his/her patient must have certainty that, in the event of a claim of negligence, given the very high legal costs in establishing the fault or otherwise of the doctor, it cannot be left in doubt that an indemnity will be forthcoming for the claim and the costs associated with it.â?
d) âThe Irish Department of Health, on hearing of allegations of a lapse from high standards of corporate governance by MDU (the chief executive was in receipt of a higher salary than that of which the non-executive directors were aware), suggested in a letter to MDU that it might withdraw recognition of MDU as an insurer of general practitioners in the Departmentâs Medical Card Schemeâ?
e) âThe Solicitors Mutual Defence Fund Limited is a copycat version of the MDUâ?
We have deleted the article pending receipt of justification, from the MDU, for its criticisms. If we have been unfair to the MDU we will admit that and apologise but otherwise we will assert our right to free speech.
We have no indication from the MDU that it does not regard its business as a matter of public interest.
Our article had cited authority for some of its contents and we have cited other authorities in our reply letter to the solicitors. We will keep readers informed.
Gents, it is refreshing to see such responsible conduct in the blogosphere, balancing the right to free speech with the responsibility that comes with opening one’s gob (or web browser) in a public place.
Having read the original post, I await with interest updates on this. In particular, I would be concerned if a body the conduct of which I assume would be a matter of public interest and concern should react to comment by crying defamation.
If the MDU feels that its conduct is not a matter of public interest, I would welcome publication of their doubtless erudite and learned justification of that stance so I can consider my assumption soundly rebutted.
‘Conventional wisdom’, to borrow from JK Galbraith, suggests that the conduct of operation of any organisation providing a service that acts to protect the public (and practitioners) from some of the risks of litigation would be of public interest.
However, Galbraith’s original context suggests ‘conventional wisdom’ is not always the same as ‘common sense’.
I trust your endeavours in this case will help the two to align as one might reasonably expect.