CANCERactive describes itself as “Britain´s Number 1 holistic cancer charity”, which I guess you might be forgiven for thinking sets the bar rather low. It was founded by Chris and Catherine Woollams and its website prominently features Chris Woollams, who describes himself as “the UK’s number 1 cancer researcher”, something which will no doubt come as something of a surprise to those who judge researchers by more conventional measures such as peer-reviewed publications, research outcomes and so on. PubMed finds a princely zero hits by, or naming, Woollams.
[callout title=”Update 15 July 2012″]It appears that David Colquhoun having removed the post at issue, and presumably with the non-trivial discussion of the facts noted below, Woollams has updated his blog post implicitly retracting the threat. Having seen the original content from DC Science, I believe he would have stood absolutely no chance at law. As you would expect, Prof. Colquhoun received many offers of support and encouragemenent – I believe Mr. Woollams may have made his own personal discovery of the Streisand Effect.[/callout]
The TL;DR summary
- On 7 July 2012 Chris Woollams accused Professor David Colquhoun of defamation for suggesting that Woollams is trading off the back of the charity, CANCERactive.
- Woollams sought to establish that the charity, the company whose web shop is prominently linked from the charity website, and he, were three distinct entities and not formally linked (the charity run by a board of trustees, and himself not associated with the company).
- 7 July is the very day that Companies House shows the company, Health Issues Ltd (therainbowfoods.com) moving from The Elms, Radclive Road, Gawcott.
- The Elms, Radclive Road, Gawcott was until very recently listed as the contact address for Chris Wollams.
- The Elms, Radclive Road, Gawcott was until very recently listed as the contact address for CANCERactive.
- A company director search shows Woollams as living at The Elms, Radclive Road, Gawcott (though this may be an accommodation address as Woollams is apparently expatriate).
- The domains canceractive.com, chriswoollams4health.com and therainbowfoods.com are all registered to Christopher Woollams.
- All three domains’ websites are hosted on the same Rackspace (UK) IP address.
- Woollams was a director of Health Issues Ltd until December 2010 according to Companies House
So, on the face of it, Chris Woollams comes across as a liar, and not a particularly clever one.
I await with interest his no-doubt entirely plausible explanation for the coincidences noted above.
[callout title=”A cynic might think…”] A cynic might be forgiven for thinking that Chris Woollams has responded to complaints to the Charity Commissioners and to enforcement agencies re the Cancer Act by (a) changing the address of the charity and the company, (b) ranting about the Cancer Act and (c) loudly complaining that the company and the charity are entirely separate, look, they are not even at the same address.[/callout]Woollams is not a fan of the Cancer Act. It’s easy to see why. His charity (I call it his, he seeks to distance himself from it, but it’s his picture on the site) offers specific advice on specific alternative therapies, and features sometimes within the text links to a shop where you can buy these: this is undoubtedly skirting the edges of the law, whether on the right or the wrong side would be for a court to determine.
But here’s an interesting thing. The site has a prominent link to a “Natural Selections Shop”. Until recently this went to chriswoollams4health.com – which would appear to be in direct contravention of the Charities Act, since he would be using the charity to derive business. He says this was an error, and accident. The link is now to therainbowfoods.com, which is the website of a company called Health Issues of Unit 6, Sunfield Business Park, Finchampstead, Wokingham, Berkshire RG40 4QT.
Woollams states that he has nothing to do with this company and makes no money from it. But on his blog he still carries links to chriswoollams4health.com, which WHOIS shows is indeed registered to Christopher Woollams, and guess what? That site, as of this moment, redirects to therainbowfoods.com. And WHOIS finds that the registrant for therainbowfoods.com is… Christopher Woollams.
That’s as may be, but he certainly cannot accurately claim not to be associated with it: he was a director until December 2010. So does that break the link between CANCERactive and the web shop it so prominently promotes?
Maybe, maybe not. What is quite interesting is that David Colquhoun discussed the issue of CANCERactive’s promotion of quack treatments and Woollams’ apparent links with the commercial entity. Woollams took Colquhoun to task over this on July 7 2012.
By a strange coincidence, that is the same day that Health Issues Ltd changed its registered office to the trading estate in Finchampstead.
I bet you can’t guess the previous address.
From Companies House WebCHeck: ”
|REGISTERED OFFICE CHANGED ON 09/07/2012 FROM
RADCLIVE ROAD, GAWCOTT
Who lives in a house like this? Google says: CANCERactive and Chris Woollams may be contacted at this address. The Wayback Machine shows it was previously on the Contact page of CANCERactive. The Google cache as of today still shows it:
Isn’t it lucky that Chris Woollams didn’t publish his accusations about Colquhoun a day earlier, when the company with which he is so very firmly not associated was still registered to a recent address of the charity with which it has no formal links at all, honest?
Isn’t it lucky that the address of the charity changed as well? And so recently that the Google cache still has the old address, noted as still being current by Majikthyse in April.
A cynic might be forgiven for thinking that Chris Woollams has responded to complaints to the Charity Commissioners and to enforcement agencies re the Cancer Act by (a) changing the address of the charity and the company, (b) ranting about the Cancer Act and (c) loudly complaining that the company and the charity are entirely separate, look, they are not even at the same address.
Update and frantic tipping of hats to Zeno, Josephine Jones and other peerless purveyors of proof. A company director check on Christopher Woollams shows his address to be The Elms, Radclive Road, Gawcott.
Additional material, please feel free to pass on any more:
- Whois therainbowfoods
- Whois chriswoollams4health
- Whois canceractive
- WebCHeck – Health Issues Ltd
- Christopher John Woollams – free company director check
- Cancer Active – Contact Us