Duty-of-care laws may be expanded to penalise individuals promoting bogus cancer treatment online, the Telegraph can reveal.
Practitioners who administer fake treatments could face criminal charges under the newly-proposed legislation
Health minister Jo Churchill told the House of Commons this week that the government plans to act to protect the most vulnerable people from “dangerous and cruel” cancer cure propaganda.
Shadow Culture Minister Chris Matheson told MPs that he had raised the issue because he had lost a constituent in “horrendous circumstances” following bogus cancer treatments.
“The plan is to bring in new legislation as part of the Online Harms Bill,” Mr Matheson said.
“Talks have been ongoing with the health minister and I am very pleased.
“My view is that these bogus practitioners are charlatans and con artists and must be treated as such.
“We are going after them.”
Mr Matheson told The Telegraph that he was now “seeking guidance” from the Crown Prosecution Service with regards to the legislation needed to criminalise practitioners providing treatment when unqualified to do so.
He noted that based on the injuries sustained by his late constituent during treatment, the alternative practitioners who administered the fake medicines should be liable to “GBH or manslaughter charges”, and that new legislation was being examined to make such prosecutions available to authorities in the future.
The government has said that the landmark Online Harms Bill will contain the “most robust action” to counter illegal content online and keep the UK public safe.
News that the Bill could help protect cancer patients was welcomed by relatives of victims who have died following bogus treatments.
“I’m pleased to hear that new legislation is being considered that will help to protect patients from the dangers of alternative medicine,” said Lorna Holiday, whose mother, Linda, died after taking fake cancer medicines.
“Government action now will help protect lives in the future.”
The Telegraph revealed last month that a large cross-party coalition of MPs had united in an attempt to overhaul cancer-cure propaganda legislation.
Dr Aseem Malhotra, a consultant cardiologist and professor of evidence-based medicine, said:
“These new measures are a welcome blessing, it is the government’s duty to protect the most vulnerable in our society from dangerous treatments and exploitation.”