I thought I would offer the article's quoted drugs expert, Dr Paul Skett of
Glasgow University, the chance to clarify and set the record straight.
Here's how it went...
Dear Dr. Paul Skett,
You may remember that I wrote to you a few weeks ago after being the
subject of a story in the Sunday Mail – ‘the Wasted Civil Servant’. At
that time I just wanted to introduce myself and bring to your attention
some of the article’s inaccuracies, including quotes from yourself, which
I suspect were either made out of context, or you were misled by the
The past few weeks have been traumatic for me. There have been job
concerns, with my employers reviewing the situation, and just general
stress in association with such a defamatory article.
Anyway, I have been working on my rebuttal. The initial detail draft of
this takes apart the Mail’s story almost line-by-line and can be found at
– There will doubtless be some further refinements to it, but I wanted to
invite your comment at this stage.
Your thoughts generally will be welcomed, but of particular interest will
be any clarifications you can give as to your expertise with regard to
Questions on this were a common theme in the feedback I received from my
readership. However, we mostly suspected that title ‘expert’ was not
self-appointed and had just been lazily ascribed to you by the journalist
in order to give his report a ring of credence. Anyhow, if it is the case
that you are a ‘drugs’ expert of some kind, we were especially interested
in your Salvia credentials. You are invited to substantiate on this. And,
bearing in mind that I’ve been working closely with Salvia for over 6
years, I thought you might otherwise consider conceding expertise on the
matter to me.
I’d also like to give you the opportunity to disassociate yourself from
the Sunday Mail’s article in general, in other words, to state your
disapproval of this kind of scurrilous journalism. Would you agree that,
no matter what ones opinion on the practical uses of visionary plants,
this kind of misinformation, in simply perpetuating fear and ignorance, in
fact does more harm than good?
I’d be interested to know your position, say, for example, if you were
contacted by a tabloid paper again in the future, what would be your
attitude and what you might say.
You are of course entitled to your opinion, wherever you stand in relation
to “the war on drugs”.
I’d like to assure you that your comments will not be misrepresented on my
website. I, like many of my readers, would be interested in your views
whatever they may be.
We look forward to hearing from you.
Salvia Divinorum Scotland
PS. A couple of other links which may be of interest:
– the next entry in my site’s Media Stories section from recent edition of
the New Scientist – couldn’t be more different to the Sunday Mail’s
For another example of Norman Silvester’s
‘reporting’ see –
– To get an idea of just how twisted this particular story is, compare it to other
www.thebricktestament.com/press – for example, check out the
Catholic Telegraph’s more favourable accounts
– and look at overall content of the
The Brick Testament website itself. Try to imagine in what way the
site could reasonably be described as being “popular with paedophiles for
its graphic scenes, including child abuse”. – Seriously, I’m worried about Silvester
next picking on, say, some harmless eccentric, but someone not resilient
maybe, not able to cope with such lurid headlines and unwanted attention
Dr Skett's reply to above...
Like me, the reader may not find this curt reply particularly illuminating.
Dr Paul Sketts profile on the University of Glasgow site
I could find no references to any work with Salvia divinorum.
Since he'd seemingly ignored the specific questions I asked, and perhaps
giving him the benefit of the doubt in case he'd taken offence at my tone, I
thought I would write again...
I’m sure you’ll understand why I might feel justified in letting let off a
little steam with my online rebuttal.
I wouldn’t want this to detract from important points.
It wasn’t my intention to question your overall credentials and qualifications
in what you do, just to clarify in particular on the matter of Salvia
If you feel that my tone is anyway inappropriate then I’ll consider re-edit
(at the very least, note of your objections).
I intend to publish online version of our communications, so that my
invitations for further comment, and subsequent responses, are recorded.
If you’d rather not comment on certain issues, that’s fine too.
Non-responses are of course also open to interpretation.
Readers will make of it all what they may.
PS. I noted your involvement with paper Traditional Remedies and Diabetes
Treatment Plant for food and medicine (Raman, A. and Skett, P. 1998). If
you’ve not already seen it, you may find the following paper of interest
Dr Skett's reply...