Opinion Piece In Gisborne Herald Calls Out MoH’s Negligent Attitude Towards Martin Gledhill’s Conflict of Interest

July 1, 2023
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Thank-you to the Gisborne Herald for publishing this opinion piece by Simin Williams regarding the Ministry of Health’s irresponsible approach to Martin Gledhill’s blatant conflict of interest.

Gisborne Herald, 30 June, 2023.

The issue of conflict of interest has been in headlines quite a lot recently regarding various ministers and public servants.
I came across a glaring example of conflict of interest in the “Interagency Committee on the Health effects of Non-Ionizing Fields” which advises the Ministry of Health on the levels of radiation to which the NZ public can be safely exposed. This requires regular and comprehensive review due to the increasing number of cell phone towers and wireless devices in use.

According to a SaferTechNZ press release: “Martin Gledhill, a long-time member of the committee, plays a key role in selecting the research reviews to be considered by the committee at its twice-yearly meetings . . . . The clear conflict of interest arises from the fact that Mr Gledhill also owns a business, EMF services, which has commercial contracts with the major New Zealand telecommunication companies.”

Dr Andrew Old, speaking on behalf of Health Minister Dr Ayesha Verrall, says “the Ministry of Health is aware of the potential conflict of interest”. At the same time, he dismisses this conflict as “natural and unavoidable in a small country like New Zealand”.

A SaferTechNZ spokesperson argues: “When are conflicts of interest, especially in the field of public health and safety, ‘natural and unavoidable’? Is New Zealand too small to be ethical?”

There is no way that Mr Gledhill can provide independent advice given his contractual relationships with telecommunications companies. Not a good look, nor a good practice, for a Health Ministry. It’s a far cry from best practice.

Simin Williams

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