In an interview with the Norwegian newspaper Morgenbladet, Professor of psychology, Silje E. Reme says that the police were on standby during a secret ME research conference she organized at the University of Oslo (UiO) on 13th October this year. Following the recommendation of the police, there were also safety guards present while the researchers were gathered.
Reme tells Morgenbladet that they contacted the Security and central service at the University where the conference took place, and the police, who together made general risk assessments and concluded that the conference should have safety guards present. They were also asked to send the police an advance notification, so they were on standby.
When asked by Morgenbladet about the assessments they made which led to safety guards and the police being on standby, UiO stated the following in an email: «The police made general risk assessments in advance of this academic gathering, and we followed their recommendations. We do not wish to go into the specifics of the assessments».
Morgenbladet: Conference for ME researchers required safety guards and police on standby: – They are trying to get us. (Norwegian text).
According to Oslo Police District – Unit Downtown, however, none of this is registered in their relevant systems. They also state that Unit West, which is responsible for the area Blindern where the University is located, has had no contact with the organizer.
When asked about who in the police they had contact with – and when, the University answers that «We have no further details to give in this matter.».
In a podcast with comedian Harald Eia on 21st October, Reme says that the debate climate concerning ME is harsh and that this is easy to document. She says that several of her close colleagues have experienced death threats. Listen to a sound clip from the podcast here:
In Morgenbladet, Reme warns journalists who write about the ME debate to tread carefully. She also recently warned the National Research Ethics Committees, NEM.
In 2013, Reme conducted a study on the alternative method Lightning Process. The study was marked as LOW quality by the British National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) in connection with their review of all research in the field when their new guidelines for ME/CFS were drawn up.
The method is marketed towards ME patients. Recently, a study in which 100 ME sufferers are to be treated with the method received ethical approval. The approval was finally decided after two rounds of appeals in NEM.
- Forskning.no: Public Health Institute top tried to influence ethical approval of ME research (Norwegian text)
Reme is part of this project and recently warned NEM about threats and harassment against researchers. In an email on 26th September 2022, which emerged through a freedom-of-information request by Marit Hjelsvol, Reme refers to an article in Science Magazine and writes that: «Research on chronic fatigue syndrome/ME is mentioned explicitly and we can confirm that our project has experienced everything that is mentioned here:
«In contrast to healthy debate about research, this harassment could include abusive emails, social media ‘trolling’, threats to personal safety, malicious complaints to institutions or regulatory bodies, bombardment with Freedom of Information (FOI) requests or libelous online posts about researchers.””.
Physically or psychological?
The world’s largest health authorities and science mediators such as the CDC, NIH, IOM/NAM and NICE are clear that ME is a serious, complex and chronic medical condition that affects most body systems.
The conference Reme organized was, however, exclusively for researchers who have another, so-called «biopsychosocial» approach to the disease. This is the same approach as a small group of professionals in psychiatry who tried to overturn the ME diagnosis in the 90s. They have repeatedly, without documenting it – claimed to be threatened by ME patients. Read more here: Khrono’s article about inflamed ME research. (Norwegian text).
Police on standby?
According to Reme, it is easy to document threats and harassment against ME researchers. I have been in contact with Reme and asked which threats and harassment against ME researchers have been reported to the police, and also which police unit was contacted regarding the conference – and when. She does not wish to answer.
It is peculiar that also the University, which is subject to the Freedom of Information Act won’t disclose which police unit they were in contact with, or when.
It is also strange that, according to the police in Oslo, there is nothing registered or logged in their systems regarding the contact with the University, the risk assessments they did or the preparedness that was implemented during the conference.
Nina E. Steinkopf
Former HSE and Quality Chief Executive
Now; ME- patient and writer