As many of you will know there has been a lot of controversy regarding Patrick Holford’s 2007 appointment as a visiting Professor at the University of Teeside. (In what exactly he was a visiting we never found out as Teeside did not seem very keen on letting him call himself a professor of nutrition.)

According to Holford Watch he has resigned. This is rather puzzling as his website still mentions his visiting professorship. Moreover as far as I am aware, Teeside has not made any official announcement about his departure. Now I have no reason to doubt Holford Watch as they are usually very good at checking sources so what exactly is happening here?

My guess is that senior management at Teeside have got rather fed up with the trouble Mr Holford is causing them. They would like him to go, but have not really got the stomach to get involved in a long and drawn out legal dispute with him.  He realises he is not welcome so has offered his resignation. However, in return for departing quickly he wants some compensation. Both sides will doubtless want a confidentiality agreement.  They are probably hoping none of us have noticed what is going on, though I have a sneaking suspicion some one has already briefed Private Eye magazine. Oh dear.




  1. dvnutrix Says:

    We have full confidence in our source for the information that he has resigned his post as Visiting Professor.

    I haven’t looked out for Private Eye. Should I make a special trip to a newstand to look?

  2. LeeT Says:

    I am not douting you or your source DVN. What I am wondering is, what exactly has been going on between Mr Holford and The University of Teeside.

    Perhaps they have not accepted the resignation and have begged him to go away for three weeks and reconsider? Perhaps no one was in when he visited to offer the resignation? Perhaps …. ohh I don’t know.

    When the resignation is confirmed perhaps we can get a banner done up and go along to his public meetings displaying the message: “Wot no visiting professorship?” When they ask people to submit questions we submit something along the lines of “What supplements would you advise me to take to achieve optimum nutrition?” (Does any supporter of his NOT ask him that?) We actually ask him: “Why did you leave Teeside and what were the terms of your disengagement?”

    Regarding Private Eye presumably some one will be briefing them at some point as they did earlier in the year?

  3. dvnutrix Says:

    I didn’t think that you were – I should have incorporated a smiley but I am rubbish at recalling the codes.

    Everybody is being terribly tight-lipped so I’m not sure that Private Eye will know anything in the near future which is a little sad.

  4. dvnutrix Says:

    In fact, there is now implicit confirmation from the Holford website, Lee.

  5. LeeT Says:

    All he has done is add “- 2008” to the CV. Appalling. Strange that he does not tell us what he has been doing in Teeside over the last ten months ehhh?

    The “about Patrick Holford” section of his website states: “In 2007 he was conferred a Visiting Professorship in the School of Social Sciences and Law at the University of Teesside.” See

    Holford Myths declares in response to allegations that he has called himself a doctor: “He is Visiting Professor at the University of Teesside, in the School of Social Sciences and Law.” See

    Perhaps the person who looks after the website is paid by the word, hence the rather slight amendment to the site?

  6. dvnutrix Says:

    Well, yes, I did say that it was implicit – what else do you expect from a CV ;-D Everything else, all his open appointments have a – to imply up until present date.

    I’m sure that the amendments are deeply meaningful to someone.

  7. LeeT Says:

    It is like a game of spot-the-difference.

    Friend: Hey, Lee would you like to play a game of spot-the-difference? Here’s Patrick Holford’s CV for May 2008 and here’s the one for June 2008. I’ll buy you lunch if you can spot the differences.
    Lee: Ahhh, yes. I love these things. Let me have a look.
    [Two hours later]
    Lee: They’re exactly the same. You’re ‘avin’ a laugh.
    Friend: No look carefully, the June 2008 CV has “-2008” against Mr Holford’s visiting professorship at the University of Teeside. Lunch is one you.

  8. draust Says:

    Tricky. Of course one would like a Teeside person to dish the inside dirt, but the real nutrition people who might know something are probably just relieved that they have seen the back of him. And the Social Science lot are probably hiding in a dark hole.

    Most academics prefer not to rat out their own Univ, anyway – doubtless there is a bit of fear of being carpeted if one is found “spreading negative messages”, plus the fact that most academics usually have SOME loyalty to the place where they work, or at least to the idea of it, and to the people working there. They (academics) usually don’t have much regard for whoever is the Vice Chancellor of the day, but that is another story.

    I would bet decent money that the behind the scenes the real nutrition scientists had been vociferous in telling the VC exactly what they thought of Holford, and pointing out that associating the Univ with him made it, and them, a scientific laughing stock. I would imagine that this has meant the management keeping a very close eye on the association, and also on those at Teeside who had “pitched” Holford as being a good person to hook up with.

    One of the points, I think, is that at first sight Holford looks terribly plausible. You have to do some digging to work out just how fringe a figure he is in terms of bioscience and psychology. Even Ben Goldacre started off seeing Patrick as far more sensible than someone like Gillian McKeith, though I suspect he has now come to the view that Patrick’s Cargo Cult Science is actually more dangerous than the flat-out loopy “Crystal woo” stuff.

  9. dvnutrix Says:

    It is amazing just how many of these nutritionists are now solemnly pointing to their books and saying, “I’ve got hundreds of references”. A recent example is Jonny Bowden over at the NYT.

    You can get your nutrition and medical news by reading the journal articles directly, combing through PubMed, going to conferences- or by reading people like Tara and me in our respective media, who collect and filter that information and then report on it. [Bowden response to 700.]

    He blithely refers to his hundreds of references without considering the notion that not all of them might be relevant or might be indicative of some large-scale cherry-picking.

    In that same comment, Bowden also affects to be proud of his PhD from Clayton College of Natural Health.

    I decided to get even more education in areas of nutrition I wasn’t familiar with- Ayruvedic, Traditional Chinese and the like. I chose Clayton College for Natural Health for its broad based curriculum in areas of healing and nutrition that were not well covered elsewhere… I am very proud of that Clayton degree, and although it is an “alternative” school…it was exactly what I needed and wanted to complement my training.

    This is a course that thinks this is an appropriate module about dietary fats and oils for a PhD in nutrition.

    This course provides resources to help the student choose health promoting dietary oils and fats. It discusses common and less well-known oils that have therapeutic potential, including flax, hemp, olive, fish, evening primrose, and more, in addition to explaining the effects of damaged fats on human health.

    That is so far away from most people’s understanding of what a PhD involves that it is not even risible.

    Yet, these people are successful in obtaining credulous coverage in no lesser a place than the NYT. They have already infiltrated universities and will continue to do so. I wouldn’t be surprised if an unabashed Holford and his supporters are even now trawling the universities of the UK in an attempt to find a new home for the Visiting Professor.

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