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Top scientist struck off for saying only women have a cervix

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A RETIRED award-winning blood transfusion scientist of 40 years standing was struck off the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) last week. His crime was to tweet the simple truth that ‘only women have a cervix’ and other statements of the blindingly obvious around gender and race.

The British scientist in question is Malcolm E Needs, 67, a senior and distinguished member of his profession, author of several scientific papers in his field and a contributor to a key textbook related to haematology. His reputation is international and in one of a series of interviews for the Canadian Society for Transfusion Medicine, in which he outlined his career and spoke of the many people who had mentored him and inspired him, the interviewer concluded: ‘Seems that quality and generosity are recognised worldwide and Malcolm exemplifies this.’

It seems that was not sufficient to save his professional registration. Once the legions of the politically correct are upset, aided and abetted by transgender fanatics and followers of Black Lives Matter, it is a one-way street to oblivion for the offender.

The few media reports on the incident focused on the ‘cervix’ tweet. It had serious consequences for Malcolm Needs but it is also clearly ridiculous, catchy and makes a good headline. The reports provided few other details from the case that was brought by the HCPC. All the details, including a list of Needs’s ‘offending’ tweets, are available online.

Frankly, the case against London-based Needs is pathetic. The evidence comprises 20 tweets, including retweets, and on reading them it is almost impossible to believe how any reasonable person could conceive that these had any bearing on Needs’s ability to conduct his job, albeit from which he had retired, as a transfusion scientist.

The HCPC guidance on the use of social media states: ‘Do not post inappropriate or offensive material.’ Needs’s tweets may have been considered offensive by someone willing to be offended and, presumably, someone felt sufficiently offended to make a complaint to the HCPC. Of the 20 presented as evidence only two proved not to be offensive in the eyes of the Health and Care Professions Tribunal Service.

However, in that light, while it is possible to see how the following selection of three retweets (lettered as per the list of offending tweets) could be considered offensive, they really express a sense of irony at what we are supposed to believe and express, to be on the right side of the culture war:

k. On 10 May 2021 you retweeted, ‘“Cultural enrichment” This is Noaun Asefa. He lives in the UK on benefits. Last night he was caught by a paedophile hunting team for sexually grooming a 13 year old child and attempting to get her to travel to him. Well done to STOP UK. Link to video”.’

l. On 12 September 2021 you retweeted, ‘Man beats woman and we’re supposed to be celebrating this?! Really.’

t. On 12 October 2021 you retweeted, ‘I see that Black History month is being promoted everywhere. No doubt this is celebrating their history. Fine. But why are they allowed to demean and & insult non-black history? Pandering & virtue signalling.’

If only Needs had been tweeting positively about uncontroversial subjects such as white privilege or abortion. Many find these topics offensive, but they are not the right people.

Much to his credit, Needs refused to co-operate with or respond to what he described as a ‘kangaroo court’. However, the issue of whether his tweets were offensive is secondary to the fact that someone, in his own time and not tweeting anything related to his profession or being offensive to or about anyone who was benefiting from his professional work (bearing in mind that he was retired) could both come under scrutiny and lead to his being struck off. This is no more and no less than a matter of freedom of expression.

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Roger Watson
Roger Watson
Roger Watson is a Professor of Nursing.

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