Noakes free at last, HPCSA licks its legal wounds


By Marika Sboros

South African scientist Prof Tim Noakes is a free man. Noakes has won his final battle with the Health Professions Council of South Africa on a charge of professional misconduct for a single tweet.

The HPCSA’s committee has dismissed an appeal against the comprehensive not-guilty verdict for Noakes in April 2017. (Click here to read the full decision.)

The unanimous ruling came down late on Friday, June 8, 2018. It is as complete an exoneration as Noakes could have hoped for.

It clears him of any wrong-doing in his tweeted exchanged to a breastfeeding mother in February 2014. Noakes dared to tweet that good first foods for infant weaning are LCHF (low-carb, high-fat).

Crucially, the ruling confirms that his tweet was neither “unconventional” nor “dangerous” as the HPCSA claimed. In other words, that LCHF is no threat to babies – or anyone else, as the HPCSA and its expert witnesses claimed.

Fishing expedition

The appeal committee is also highly critical of the HPCSA’s prosecution of its case against Noakes. The ruling criticises the HPCSA for effectively thumb-sucking the claim of a “duty to protect the public” in appeal. It dismisses the claim as an afterthought, “a fishing expedition”.

Noakes’ jubilant legal team: (l to r) Adam Pike Dr Ravin ‘Rocky’ Ramdass and Michael van der Nest (SC).

Noakes’s lawyers pointed out that the HPCSA only made the claim after they realised their case was unlikely to succeed.

Thus, the ruling also confirmed the main defence submission. That the HPCSA’s case against him was without merit from the start. In other words, the HPCSA should not have embarked on it in the first place.

When Noakes and instructing attorney, Adam Pike, of Pike Law, announced the ruling on Friday, social media went into overdrive. And stayed there.

Doctors, scientists, dietitians and others globally tweeted and posted Facebook messages of support for Noakes.

Gaping holes

That has left the HPCSA reflecting on losing a case that lasted more than four years and cost millions. It lost the case despite instructing an expensive team of external lawyers after gaping holes appeared in its case late in 2015.

The HPCSA didn’t help itself with the “ferocity” of its prosecution – as Noakes’s lawyers described it. They called it “an unprecedented prosecution and persecution of a distinguished scientist for his scientific opinions”.

Dietitian Claire Strydom

In their closing arguments first time round, they said that the HPCSA went after Noakes on the whim of a “disgruntled dietitian”, Johannesburg dietitian Claire Julsing Strydom. Strydom was president of the Association for Dietetics in South Africa (ADSA) when she reported him to the HPCSA for his tweet.

They argued that Strydom was disgruntled because the public was listening more to him than to her. And that she used her position as ADSA president and his tweet as a pretext to persuade the HPCSA to prosecute him.

Weird dreams

Noakes has welcomed the ruling as everything he hoped for – well, almost everything.

“I always expected that (the decision) would go my way,” he told me immediately after receiving the ruling. It came as “a huge relief” even as it “hasn’t yet sunk in”.

He has had “troubled, weird dreams” in the nights before the ruling, he said. Noakes expects to sleep easier once it sinks into his mind that it “really is all over”.

The case was both a professional and emotional burden from the outset, he said. The worst moments, the “nadir”, he called it, came when the HPCSA began presenting its case.”It exposed the pettiness and incivility of the prosecution,” Noakes said. It exposed “the hostility of the expert witnesses and the banality of their arguments”.

“I’m glad it is all over because it means we don’t have to do any more to expose the mendacity of what was going on behind the scenes between ADSA and the HPCSA,” Noakes said.

Pike has also welcomed the ruling – despite the lateness. It came more than two months after the March 31, 2018, deadline.

Preserving rights

“It took a little long and we were becoming impatient,” he said.

That made it difficult for Noakes’s legal team to “exercise the requisite patience”. But when the ruling came it was “well worth the wait”.

“It was as good as we expected,” Pike said. “It exposed the prosecution and the manner in which the HPCSA undertook it”.

The appeal ruling accepted Noakes’s “true position”. He did not have a doctor-patient relationship with the breastfeeding mother. He acted as a scientist and tweeted scientific information.”

The appeal committee’s ruling thus also “preserves the right of scientists and doctors to express scientific opinions and disseminate medical information”, Pike said.

It’s true that the three-member appeal committee of two lawyers and a medical doctor did their job. And they did it as well as anyone could expect of them.

Cutting costs

They stuck to the evidence for what they identified as the three main issues:

  • Whether Noakes received a fair trial, specifically relating to the issue of “protection of the public”;
  • Whether he had a doctor-patient relationship with the breast-feeding mother on Twitter; and
  • Was his LCHF tweet “unconventional” and therefore dangerous “medical advice”.

They found comprehensively for Noakes on all counts. They set aside the defence counter appeal arguing for costs, as there was no cost order in the first verdict.

However, much as his lawyers might have hoped, their ruling does not speak to the manifest unfairness of the process. Nor does it shed light on evidence of hypocrisy, double-standards and chronic breach of his rights in the HPCSA’s prosecution of Noakes.

The reality is, say legal experts, that Strydom couldn’t have done it all on her own.

Industry links

She had extensive help from academics and doctors at all three of South African universities – Cape Town (Noakes alma mater), Stellenbosch and the Witwatersrand. It’s probably also no coincidence that most, if not all, have food and drug industry links.

Among these is UCT nutrition professor Marjanne Senekal. Senekal was a colleague of Noakes, in the same faculty. She became a consultant to the HPCSA after its case began to falter.

Evidence also suggested that Senekal and Stellenbosch became also involved in questionable research. It is the Naude Review, named after lead author from Stellenbosch Dr Celeste Naude. The hearing heard evidence that the researchers embarked on it with the specific aim of propping up the case against Noakes.

Strydom also had extensive help from academics at a minor institution, North-West (formerly Potchefstroom) University.


In Lore of Nutrition, which Noakes and I have co-authored, we expose the organised campaign that the many conflicted doctors, dietitians and academics conducted against Noakes and LCHF for years. We name and shame them all.

Their silence – and the silence of all their universities – in the wake of revelations at the hearing and documented in our book is astonishing and disturbing.

Our ongoing research has identified another disturbing phenomenon: academic bullying or “mobbing”. It is not restricted to Noakes or this case.

Evidence suggests it’s one reason that so many health professionals could act in concert against Noakes. And lay the fertile groundwork for the HPCSA’s eventual case against him.

And why, so far, they have done so with impunity.

Hearing rigged

Other important evidence that the appeal ruling did not canvas showed that the process really was rigged against Noakes from the start. And that it began with the HPCSA’s own preliminary inquiry committee.

The chair was Prof Amaboo “Ames” Dhai, head of medical bioethics at Wits University

Evidence on the record includes an incriminating chain of emailed correspondence between Dhai and her committee. (The evidence fell into the lap of Noakes’s legal team quite by accident during the disciplinary hearing.)

It shows them going far beyond their legal – and ethical – remit. They indulged, as his lawyers diplomatically argued, in “highly irregular conduct” to ensure that the case proceeded.

That went some way to answering a question the hearing raised. Just how did Strydom, a dietitian with a business to protect, manage so easily to get a statutory body (the HPCSA) to do her bidding?

Real targets

In effect, the evidence strongly suggested that vested interests used Strydom as a pawn. And that Noakes and LCHF were always the targets.

The evidence also suggested that whether by default or design, Strydom and other ADSA dietitians have probably been pawns in this case.

That points to another limiting factor of the appeal ruling. The committee could not canvass new evidence that came to light since the not-guilty verdict last year. It showed up in a PAIA (Promotion of Access to Information Act) request that Noakes’s instructing attorney, Adam Pike, made to ADSA in June 2017.

It yielded an incriminating email communication chain between HPCSA dietetics board head Prof Edelweiss Wentzel-Viljoen, Strydom and another ADSA dietitian, Maryke Gallagher.

Noakes ‘problem’

In one email Strydom and Gallagher appeal to Wentzel-Viljoen for help with the “Tim Noakes problem”.

Crucially, Wentzel-Viljoen communicates with them before Noakes’s February 2014 tweet. In a later email, she reassures Strydom and Gallagher that the HPCSA “has a plan” for Noakes.

Coupled with correspondence exchanged between role players even before Noakes’s tweet, the correspondence between Dhai and her committee members makes it even harder for them all to argue good faith.

It supports the defence closing argument that Strydom was not just disgruntled but also “vexatious”. Thus, the case against him amounted to “malicious prosecution”.

Set up from start

It also supports the argument that he was set-up from the start.

Noakes hopes that the committee’s finding will drive LCHF as a treatment option in future. And that it will contribute to much-needed change in conventional, unscientific low-fat, high-carb dietary guidelines.

Going forward, there are many in this case who can count themselves lucky that Noakes is not in vengeful mode. Despite that, many on social media continue to ask why he doesn’t sue the main architects of the case against him.

The trial has cost him dearly both emotionally and financially. The financial burden would have been far heavier had his advocates Michael van der Nest (SC) and Dr Ravin “Rocky” Ramdass not offered their services for free from the start and throughout.

Noakes is grateful simply that his academic career, reputation and scientific legacy are intact. And with the wisdom of his good friend, hindsight, he would do it all again. He and wife Marilyn never faltered in their decision to fight the charge against him.

“We knew that we had right and truth on our side,” he said. “It may take time but truth always wins.”




  1. Have been following Prof Tim Noakes case since I saw him fighting for his professional life since I joined the LCHF 2 months ago.
    Disgusting what they did to him and all because they have selfish vested interests to defend their now discredited view point.
    However, light is on the horizon and much like Galileo and the church, the truth has been revealed and is incontrovertible .
    The false and misleading lies and possible illegal conduct by the ” so called ” professional bodies whose names will not be mentioned as they do not deserve that recognition will soon be cast aside and new and educated people will come through and use real science and not the rubbish as in the past.
    The change from the stupid food plate or pyramid is long over due and thanks to Tim, Paul Mason , Carryn Zinn Zoe Harcombe , Grant Schofield and so many other there is light at the end of the tunnel
    Thanks for all you efforts

  2. All these harassments of Prof. Noakes have in my eyes just been grotesque and tell me that the medical profession has very little association with the natural science I am used to.

  3. This from UCT “With respect to the dismissal of the HPCSA appeal on Friday, June 8, 2018, the University of Cape Town will continue to respect the process under way, and will not comment further.”

    Quite astonishing from what used to be a world rated university and one of the top in Africa. Talk about being totally ungracious in defeat. Talk about scientists and doctors incapable of admitting that they were wrong. The process is no longer “under way”. The process is over and TNs detractors lost, embarrassingly – absolutely – convincingly. One of the most galling aspects of the protracted hearings was the assorted academics / experts sitting around looking smug. It seems to be beyond their cognitive competence to even understand process let alone learn from it.

    UCT must now shoulder a large chunk of blame for deflecting metabolically dysfunctional people from a proven treatment for heart disease and diabetes (to name but two). Whether or not you like it, it works and your obduracy will eventually consign you all to irrelevance as the above statement so clearly demonstrates

    TN must now realise that the UCT he was once proud to be part of no longer exists. It has been brought down by untransformed and untransformable fossilised relics. So sad!

  4. Some thought should be given to referring the matter of a criminal conspiracy to public prosecutions. Somehow legal costs should be claimed.

  5. I am a retired “Family Physician” from South Africa, now living in the UK and have been Banting since it came to my attention, initially from some articles and then eventually the publication of the “Real Meal Revolution” and have subsequently tried to spread the word. I finished reading the “Lore of Nutrition” last week. The two authors, Tim Noakes and Marika Sboros” have presented the trial of the millennium and one might say the nutritional guidelines for the century in a clear and easy to read format. Tim Noakes was a couple of years behind me at medical school in Cape Town and i remember him well.
    The success of this “frivolous case” that went on for four years has ended in the clearing of Prof Noakes’ name and hopefully he can retire in peace without the buzzards trying to attack him again. I remember looking up on of the quotes on fat metabolism in the textbook of human physiology by Guyton or was it Ganong right at the beginning of this saga that showed the truth of fat metabolism and should have put the matter to rest. Sadly the HSPCA AND the SA dietetics society were determined to win their case. It should never have taken place.
    The case has now been set for a review of the Nutritional Guidelines for Western countries that now need urgent changes. There are some rumblings already happening, but there are megatons of bias that need to be removed. Cholesterol is not the bogeyman that it has been made out to be. This is going to be a huge process as literally billions of people including the medical profession have been brainwashed for the last fifty years. It is a momentous task equal to that of using water and carbolic spray to save the lives of many thousands of mothers and children who died from sepsis spread around the wards of hospitals by medical staff. This is as momentous an occasion as that was. Semelweiss faced an onslaught. Lister initially went through the same thing with his bacerial theory, but eventually graciously stepped down to hot water and soap as we know it today to prevent infection in surgical cases.
    You may wonder why I have written about this aspect of medical history and procedure, but this major problem of nutrition will have the same impact on medical history. Who knows how many people have died from the use of statins, stents being inserted into the cardiac arteries. Unnecessary medication with significant side effects and cardiac vessel procedures being done. One could go on and on. This is Nobel Prize material!

  6. I normally sympathise with anyone struggling with their weight, but I make an exception for dietitians with closed minds who continue to trot out the low-fat and ‘healthy’ grains stupidity.

    Claire Julsing Strydom is an appalling example to the poor souls she advises. She’s clearly not a very bright woman. Her badly written emails give the clear impression of someone who felt deeply threatened by Tim Noakes’ success in communicating a different message about food that actually worked! His success and the fast sinking credibility of dietitians was the real reason for her determination to shut him up.

    Strydom seems to be following the disastrous advice she gives out to the unfortunate public. Having just watched an interview online, I’d say she’s about two stones overweight. Maybe she needs to take a look in the mirror and ask how well eating low-fat food and grains is working out for her. Is it any wonder that this pseudo ‘profession’ is so widely regarded as a joke? A fat dietitian has the same credibility as an electrician who blows his own house up.

    This foolish and blinkered woman had the opportunity to listen to the science presented by Tim Noakes at his hearing. Many of us would have paid good money to watch and listen, but she chose to be absent when the professor presented his evidence and research. This demonstrates the worst possible combination of ignorance and arrogance.

    • Plus she continues to tweet as if nothing had happened.

      I missed this when it was on UK TV because I assumed it would be the usual crap but actually it turns out to have been pretty well done

      as expected the UK dieticians and their troll friends are all up in arms, as they were after the PHUK conference. They have completely painted themselves into a corner now.

  7. Any news about the consequences for HPCSA and ADSA? Are they modifying their advice? Any apology for the amount of money that’s been spent on this? Heads rolling? The websites don’t appear to have been updated. So are they maybe just hoping it all blows over? Perhaps at HPCSA, they need to re-think their mandate which is about “Protecting the public and guiding the professions”. Definitely time to reconsider that or at the very least, explain how they learned from this process.

  8. Patricia, I’m not the least bit amazed…

    “Research”: a noun, DILIGENT and systematic inquiry or investigation into a subject in order to discover or REVISE facts, theories, applications, etc.
    from Middle – French, meaning ‘to seek’. (Caps are mine.)

    These folk endorse a set of beliefs WITHOUT prior and HONEST research, which means they cannot afford to re-visit the evidence lest they look like fools… For an academic, there is no better reason!

  9. Prof. Noakes is a man of integrity and such a gentleman, a national treasure. I am so happy for him. I think this trial has been a game changer so we must continue the fight, each of us in our own small way. Thank you Marika for you tireless support.

  10. I feel so blessed to have found LCHF
    I feel so excited to have met Proff Noakes
    And do my small part in spreading the message.
    To me every eye saved from blindness every limb saved from amputation is a miracle.
    I’m 65 have been eating LCHF for 4 years and feel amazing !
    Bless Tim his family and all the other brave doctors who take the time to read around the subject ,the evidence is abundant and readily available .
    I’m amazed by those who have slated this way of life without doing any research!

  11. It would seem only fair that the losers pay the costs but that doesn’t seem to be the case here. So in fact there doesn’t seem to be a big enough penalty for them to start another fight like this one, maybe with someone else this time.

  12. Perhaps we are on the cusp of the ‘Third stage of Truth’.

    First it is ridiculed,
    Second it is violently and mercilessly opposed, but, and without warning…
    Third it is loudly declared as Self-Evident. ( and no further discussion will be entered into, – especially by the new supporters of it !)

  13. Maybe it’s drawing a long bow, but I see no reason why this ‘Official’ Decision should not flow on to Dr Gery Fettke’s benefit.
    It certainly makes our secretive, ‘Star-Chamber’/ Australian Health Professionals Regulatory Agency, look suspiciously like the HPCSA.
    – With the same agenda and supporters…

  14. Thanks to Prof Tim and his legal team! Now we need to get “mainstream media” to at last accept that LCHF is real science and to stop publishing/broadcasting plugs for big pharma and big food.

  15. Now, how about the HPCSA prosecuting those margarine ads and cereal ads claiming how good and healthy they are for you!

  16. Great news. Thanks for keeping us so well informed.

    I suppose that it is too much to hope for that the academics and dietitians involved in this disgraceful episode will now come forward and tender their apologies to Tim and his wife. By way of exoneration they may also consider whether or not they should name and shame any vested interests that may have driven this process.

    At very least heads should role at HPCSA.

  17. Only in the movies did we see stuff like this growing up. Who knew that this dishonesty was around even then. ?? How little our lives mean to those whose appetites are not satiated. One step at a time,
    We’ll help ourselves – with the help of God.

  18. That’s dietitian Claire Strydom? With her physical shape, you’d have to be crazy to any take dietary advice from her!

    • I know a few overweight dietitians who have learned much from their own battles to control their weight. The key is whether or not they dish up unscientific weight thereafter. Sadly, many still do.

  19. Not surprised Strydom was desperate… that photo of her is proof that her ‘profession’ is bunk! There should be NO obese dieticians… suggest she takes up LCHF!

    • I am not into fat-shaming. And there are dietitians with weight problems that are not simply from eating the wrong foods. These dietitians still have much to contribute to helping their clients. Having said that, there are many dietitians who clearly don’t walk their talk and who dish up unscientific advice.

      • Er . . .it’s not fat shaming, it’s DIET shaming. Don’t forget when their advice fails they inevitably claim this was because the patient “failed to comply”. It’s a bit harder to claim that she failed to comply with her own diet . . .

          • Only as a reader. If I tweeted as well I would have no life at all. I used to be more prolific back in the days of usenet/newsgroups and even before that I can remember Compuserve, then I followed a bunch of forums and blogs. I now appear to be famous thanks to you! I await the attention of the trolls.

            Here’s a Real Dietician


            I have a lot of time for her because she
            1) noticed she had become fat and diabetic
            2) researched why and what to do about it
            3) applied her knowledge to herself, and others.

            Proof it can be done! Hopefully the number following her lead will increase rapidly and not too many more of them will be prosecuted for improving health.

  20. Congratulations to Tim and his family and all who helped him along psychologically, legally, and perhaps financially. His win is the win of the entire low carbs high fat and other nutrition approaches! It took his trial to generate a paradigm shift and start to roll the wheels in the right direction everywhere! This was/is an historical time.

    I am very happy for him and I hope he will take some time to celebrate and rest after these many years of torture!

    Best wishes to all of you–including you Marika, who worked tirelessly all through the case!


  21. Do you think they will try to make it a hat trick?

    More to the point will any of the mainstream media actually take notice this time around? I noticed the resounding silence about the initial trial AND the retrial.

    Frankly there should be sackings.

    • I have to say I doubt that even the HPCSA would be stupid enough to do anything further. They could do what Prof Noakes would have done had he lost the case: gone straight to South Africa’s High Court for a revision. But then, he knew he had right, truth and science on his side.

  22. The ADSA and HPCSA tried to silence Tim Noakes and instead generated huge publicity for the science behind the health benefits of a low carbohydrate way of eating.

    Claire Julsing Strydom and her cronies in the ADSA have behaved like blinkered and unprincipled fools. From first to last, this was the persecution of someone trying to publicise science that embarrassed and threatened the mediocrities in ADSA who earn their living by giving terrible advice and harming people. They had to silence someone offering very different advice that actually works.

    The so called ‘academics’ involved in the blatantly contrived and biased Naude review should hang their heads in shame. They are an ethical and intellectual disgrace.

    At the Public Health Collaboration conference in London in May, Professor Noakes was given the longest and most enthusiastic standing ovation I’ve ever witnessed. The conference’s reaction stemmed from deep respect for his work and complete indignation at the appalling treatment he, his wife, family and friends have endured.

    Best wishes, Professor Noakes.

  23. Marika,

    Tim is a far nicer person than I am but I don’t see that his “not being in vengeful mode” is, in fact, very helpful to the cause of truth.

    LCHF is a healthy way of eating and anyone with a vested interest who disputes this is clearly not being truthful.

    Trouble is, Tim is the only person (I presume) who would be able to sue “the main architects of the case against him”.

    Of course, he should take some time out from the huge stress he’s been under for so long but if he committed to sue beforehand, it would give you (and other allied LCHF advocates) the time to gather funds into an escrow account to pay for the case.

    That way, the legals who have heroically worked for free might get some financial (rather than just reputational) payback and the people and organisations who’ve driven Tim’s persecution would be exposed to the full spotlight of publicity that a law case (or cases) would show them up for what they are.

    I’d be happy to put my money where my mouth is up to the tune of UK£200. Or maybe more if it was clear to me that more is necessary.

    Bob Crabtree

    In the interim,

  24. So grateful to Prof Tim Noakes and other scientists and doctors who speak out in supporting the LCHF diet.
    Millions of people have suffered from the terrible low fat diet started by Ancel Keys’ and his diet heart hypothesis, and many have died.

    I was introduced to Atkins diet 17 years ago, lost 40 pounds and have kept it off every since. So much healthier.

    But for the dedication to truth of Banting in 1863, Yudkin, Campbell, Cleave, Atkins, Gary Taubes, Tim Noakes, and many others, even more would have suffered from low fat, high carb eating.

    Thank you Prof Noakes.

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