Skip to content



For a summary of topics covered in this blog go to “Welcome to Law and Health”


Valerie Eliot Smith

I am a British barrister. I was called to the Bar of England and Wales in 1987 and I completed pupillage. My areas of interest are the law, health and media relations. My legal expertise is in technology, media and telecomms law (TMT), human rights, open justice, data protection/privacy and freedom of information. I also practised as a criminal lawyer for ten years.

My background also includes experience in communications and media strategy with an international public relations firm, dispute resolution, psychotherapy and human resources. My first degree was in English Literature, in 1977, from the University of London (Bedford College). My primary education took place in Australia.

I have lived with the complex, disabling, multi-systemic, neuro-immune disease myalgic encephalomyelitis  or “ME” since 1981. ME is sometimes referred to (incorrectly – see below in “Definition of ME“) as “chronic fatigue syndrome” or “CFS”. I continued to work, study and practise as a lawyer until 2000 when I was further disabled by additional health problems. I have been unable to work in any formal capacity since then.

I completed a one-year Certificate in Psychotherapy and Counselling in 2002 but became too ill to continue the necessary two-year training course thereafter.

Since 2015, I have been a Visiting Scholar at the Centre for Commercial Law Studies at Queen Mary, University of London, in order to extend my academic background. However, I have been unable to continue with any formal qualifications as I am not well enough to fulfil the research, writing and teaching requirements.


Independent and non-practising status

The views expressed in this blog are my own. I am not affiliated to any other group or professional body relating to ME or “CFS” issues. I receive no payment for any of my work and I cover all costs incurred myself.

I am a lifetime member of Gray’s Inn, my Inn of Call, and I maintain my subscription to the Bar Council. My status with the Bar Council is “unregistered” which means non-practising. Non-practising members of the Bar are registered officially by the Bar Council as “unregistered”, a designation which defies both logic and common sense.


Contact details

I can be contacted via my academic email address at  

I can also be reached via tweet/direct message on Twitter @ValeriEliotSmit or by private message to me on Facebook. I am also on Mastodon 


Definition of ME

For clarification purposes: the definition of ME which I prefer is contained within the 2011 International Consensus Criteria (the “ME-ICC”). While I have no wish to exclude those who are diagnosed under other criteria, for me the ME-ICC is the most appropriate definition we have so far, for both clinical and research purposes.

As a result of four decades of experience, observation and research, I regard chronic fatigue syndrome as a condition which is separate from ME. The terms “CFS/ME” and “ME/CFS” are frequently used interchangeably with ME, with CFS and with each other.

There are many other names in use, such as post-viral fatigue syndrome (PVFS) and systemic exertion intolerance disease (SEID), which only confuses matters even further.

It is very likely that there is frequent cross-misdiagnosis of ME and CFS ie. people with ME are diagnosed with CFS and vice versa. This may depend, at least in part, on which country the patient is located.

This wide range of terminology is both confusing and imprecise. The number of different criteria in use also contributes to inconclusive research results.


Purpose of this blog

I originally started this blog in 2012 in order to publish my work on the so-called “Secret Files on ME“. However, since then, I have developed it into a broader remit (see “CATEGORIES” in sidebar). 


I welcome comments and my policy is simple: please keep it clear, relevant and lawful. All comments are moderated so it may take a little time before they appear. Personal attacks on anyone are not welcome and, in extremis, may not get through moderation. I will respond as and when I can, depending on my own state of health at the time.


If you are making use of information or documents from this blog, please quote this blog as your source and credit my work accordingly.


Nothing in this blog should be taken as either legal or medical advice. I strive to ensure that everything I say is accurate and not misleading but if you think I’ve got something wrong then please let me know. Broken links or out-of-date information happen frequently and, while I try to keep the blog up-to-date, inevitably some things get overlooked. 



90 Comments leave one →
  1. Robin permalink
    August 21, 2012 20:38

    Best wishes for this Blog – on these vital issues – as it moves forward.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Derek Pettitt permalink
    September 11, 2012 07:23

    Best wishes to you Valerie in your fight for an apology from Government over the mistreatment of ME sufferers.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. September 11, 2012 14:24

    Derek – many thanks for your comment. Best wishes to you too.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Derek Pettitt permalink
      September 12, 2012 22:38

      No worries & thankyou for the wishes, i intervened on behalf of Professor Hooper via my MP Mike Hancock over the classification of ME dispute at the DWP which lead to the Health Minister stating ME is a neurological disorder as stated by the DOH & not a Mental Health disorder.
      I have severe ME though much better than I was.
      Any help you need please don’t hesitate to ask, kind regards, Derek

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Lou Burkett permalink
    October 5, 2012 09:05

    Thank you Valerie for the serious amount of work you have undertaken for the ME community. As a parent/ carer I applaud you! I hope you regain all of the energy you’ve spent in pursuing this work. LB

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Liz Blackadder permalink
    March 4, 2013 17:59

    Just wanted to add my thank you Valerie and also to say hope you have a better spell soon – can get on with the things you want to do. This illness certainly forces us to consider priorities – and to disappear every so often! Been ill myself since December 1986 and have had to dip in & out of campaigning & support work as health fluctuates.

    Liked by 1 person

    • March 4, 2013 18:43

      Thank you for your comment, Liz. Yes – it’s so frustrating having to dip in and out, as you say. I have so many things I would like to be getting on with but I can’t because I’m too ill at the moment. But – of course – if we weren’t ill, then we probably wouldn’t be doing this because we would have completely different lives. And thereby hangs the conundrum – that the people who are trying to bring about change for ME/CFS patients are – people with ME/CFS themselves who are therefore too ill to campaign.

      I’m still working on how to break that vicious circle and I know that you will be too. I wish you all the best and thank you for your support. I send mine back to you 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Helen Smith permalink
    May 27, 2013 08:55

    Hi Valerie – I have just read your (alarming ) blog with regard to the clinical hypothermia. I’m sure I’m late to the party to suggest this, but, as a fellow ME sufferer…….

    Have you looked into the thyroid function/body temperature connection, as low body temp is a classic symptom of hypothyroidism? Even if you’ve had bloods done, which are ‘fine’ (ha ha), you could have a form of thyroid resistance, sometimes referred to as secondary hypothyroidism, as I have, and improve on T3 medication (as opposed to T3&T4 combined which is usually given).

    You may well have already crossed this off your list, but thought I’d mention it just in case! Good luck with your onward journey!



    • May 27, 2013 09:14

      Hi Helen – thank you for your thoughtful comment.

      I have been tested several times for thyroid function (both NHS and private) and the results seemed “normal”. As we know, that doesn’t necessarily mean that everything IS normal at all but the private doctor was thorough and sympathetic to my situation so I didn’t feel able to take it much further.

      Obviously, something is causing the problem but – as is always the case with this appalling illness – it’s multi-systemic, complex and well-hidden. That’s no excuse for where we are at the moment but I think it’s one of the reasons why the medical profession worldwide has been able to avoid addressing our condition – and getting away with it for so long.

      I wish you all the best with your journey too 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Helen Smith permalink
    May 29, 2013 00:10

    Hi Valerie

    I did think you would have been tested, and whilst I in no way think that the thyroid is the root cause of my illness, the fact that I cant utilise the hormone it makes does cause me a myriad of symptoms, a lot of which overlap with ME, and which I have been able to improve.

    Not to mention, of course, that nothing in the body works as it should (including all the feedback systems that moderate all the body’s responses to all stressors of course!).

    The state of secondary hypothyroidism is not recognised by the allopathic medical community in general, so unless your private doctor was one of the rare ones who are prepared to think outside the box, there’s a good chance he or she wouldn’t have found anything of note?

    If you think there’s the slightest possibility of that, I would urge you to read up on it and pursue some treatment on it, as it’s definitely the difference for me between no life and some life!

    (Sorry, I’m trying not to sound bossy, but desperate for you not to let doctors dismiss ideas that might still have potential for you, but I’m making a bad job of it because I’m tired!).

    I just can’t get past the fact that the thyroid is the main gland for metabolism and therefore, body temperature………

    Ok, well I’m getting off my soapbox now – and off to bed.

    Helen 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • May 29, 2013 08:42

      Hi Helen

      Thank you again for your helpful comments. I will investigate further, as you suggest.

      I wish you all the best with your own ME/CFS journey and hope you find more ways of improving your health. We all need to keep looking wherever possible 🙂

      With very best wishes and thank you again.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Ted Smith permalink
    January 20, 2015 11:46

    You write: “the name of this illness is hotly disputed.” But it is not. The name of this illness is Myalgic Encephalomyelitis, which is only disputed by those who profit from it being called CFS or ME/CFS. I mean literally, profit. Without “ME/CFS” they would be out of a job.

    You go on to say “For the purposes of this blog, I adopt the term “ME/CFS” as my least worst compromise.” I don’t understand why you need to compromise. The name of the illness is… (etc etc) and to mind using the double acronym preferred by the ME-doesn’t-exist-so-treat-it -psychologically PR machine is like doing their propaganda for them. You can almost hear them cheering every time someone says “ME/CFS”.


  9. Lynda Haight permalink
    June 4, 2015 20:53

    Ted, if I may comment from “across the pond”, we are all unhappy about the name. I agree, it has been a very profitable and dismissive name. However, it was strongly suggested by the chair of the IOM that we “act up” as the HIV/AIDS community did and please believe me when I say we are taking that as encouragement to do exactly as she recommended. The report also encouraged a review in or before five years have passed. Much of the newest and really important studies were not available to the committee during their year of reviewing the research. There is much to be hopeful for in the near future. In the decades That I have been severely ill with ME, I’ve never seen such a fire storm of interest and real science being widely reported. The JAMA, Science,Wall Street Journal and many media outlets have been steadily reporting on the IOM report, study results and patients personal stories. The research now is open and shared, making it available to other researchers, clinicians and medical schools. I agree, this has been a very long, painful and disgraceful amount of time for us, our families and future patients. I feel blessed to have participated in countless trials and studies. Though we haven’t seen all the embargoed information, I eagerly anticipate every new piece of new information as I believe though it’s been slow going, the pieces of the puzzle are coming together. Without that hope, my life would have no meaning. Be hopeful, there really is much to look forward to as more results become available and new researchers begin new research.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Dawn Shimmield permalink
    February 15, 2016 11:29

    Thank you, thank you , thank you. We are a family of 3 generations with ME. My mother aged 81 now who has had ME for 40 years and her life ruined – and also that of my father as the prime carer. Myself, mild, but still having to manage, and my son who was diagnosed at the age of 12, and is now 23, but with symptoms that are baffling to say the least as he doesn’t now seem to fit into the ‘normal’ ME pattern, but at present is unable to work. It is frustrating that so many years down the line we are still not a lot further forward, however due to people like yourself at least we are now more in the public eye.

    Liked by 1 person

    • February 15, 2016 11:33

      Thank you, Dawn. I’m so sorry to hear your story. To have your family destroyed by this illness over three generations is truly devastating.

      Very best wishes to all of you.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. February 15, 2016 12:31

    From my heart, as a fellow ME sufferer of 20+ years who lives in Australia, I say thank you!! You are able to articulate so well what we all want the medical profession & the world to know about our illness, and how we are mistreated. I just read The Ghost in the Room, regarding Karina Hansen. If only those with any power would take up her cause! I have signed many petitions for her. I feel for you with what this illness has robbed you of. But you are a true warrior (as most of us are) & have continued fighting when you are able. Again, many thanks!

    Liked by 2 people

  12. mary permalink
    February 15, 2016 23:35

    Can an organisation such as Amnesty help Karina?


  13. February 16, 2016 00:04

    I have been following this unfortunate story and was thankful for your interest in Karina and update. I have been going through my own trials and tribulations, mainly with psychiatrists who are not being at all fair with their written remarks and personal attacks on my integrity, insight and judgement.
    I am proceeding to file a complaint with the Human rights Commission here in New Brunswick, Canada, as I believe my situation will only deteriorate as I get older. I have been diagnosed with ME/FM, multiple chemical sensitivities, joint hypermobility and recently, with cardiac pathology that has been linked, with scientific research, to ME.
    I have written my story in Judging Judi, available at Lulu.Com, published 3 years ago, but psychiatry is continuing to abuse me and I see no other way to try to stop it, but to complain to Human Rights Commission.

    Liked by 1 person

    • February 16, 2016 09:22

      Thank you for your comment. I’m very sorry to hear your story. I wish you the best of luck with your complaint to the Human Rights Commission.

      Liked by 1 person

  14. August 17, 2016 19:01

    Sorry to hear you have ME. I have read the FTT decision with interest. I have written an analysis piece on it. It is here: The views are entirely my own. It seems the case has become quite bloated and if it is to go to the UT then there needs to be focus on just the anonymisation issue. Run properly there are good prospects of overturning the majority FTT decision.

    Liked by 1 person

    • August 17, 2016 19:05

      Thank you, David.

      Liked by 1 person

    • August 17, 2016 23:20

      Valerie, I have gone to Hell and back in the last twenty years, Mainly because of the way I have been misdiagnosed and maltreated by psychiatry. I wrote my story in Judging Judi and will have a second edition published by the end of this year. I am enclosing the PDF format of the book, which was censored when I published it first, until I gave enough evidence to the publisher that every word written in it has gone through the courts here in Canada.. Because here in North

      America, namely USA, who wants to be different with everything, CFS is used to diagnose many sick patients and then they are considered mind over matter, which is unjust and thoroughly wrong..

      Liked by 1 person

  15. Jane permalink
    September 27, 2016 19:10

    Valerie I have found your articles really interesting, helpful and informative. Needless to say I have ME. You have been a source both of information and inspiration Thank you very much for all your work 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Lidia Thompson permalink
    October 25, 2016 20:08

    Dear Valerie,
    In view of the change in the law for consent in March 2015, the recent revelations regarding the lack of statistically significant recovery in the PACE Trial, the mounting research showing exercise intolerance in people with ME and the recent refusal of NICE to change their guidelines any time soon, does the patient community not now have a really strong case to take before the courts?

    1. Bogus treatment and the law:

    2. Unique characeristics of pw ME/CFS as defined by the CCC and ICC and exercise physiologist experts eg Workwell Foundation, Snell, VanNess, Stevens, Klimas:

    3. NICE takes a dim view of foreign work on ME/CFS | Robin Ellis Freedom of Information request | 24 October 2016:

    4. Kindlon T. Reporting of Harms Associated with Graded Exercise Therapy and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy in Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome:


    • October 26, 2016 19:12

      Dear Lidia

      Thank you for your comments. I’m not in a position to respond to your question here as it would be the subject of several lengthy discussions. I’m aware of all the cases to which you refer.

      Briefly – it has ALWAYS been open to ME patients to mount a legal challenge on a number of issues. I do not know why this has not already happened (apart from the obvious limitations of patient resources, both financial and practical). The various charities and groups could have taken this up on behalf of patients a long time ago but, for some reason, have not done so .

      The position has probably strengthened a little in recent years, for a variety of reasons. However, the Montgomery case from 2015 that you refer to does not significantly change the existing situation for ME patients on a practical level. It is an important and useful case but it was elevated beyond that by some misleading discussion in the last few months. Our biggest challenge is still the NICE Guidelines.

      I hope that goes some way towards answering your question.

      Best wishes


  17. Carol Broadbent permalink
    March 26, 2019 17:36

    Valerie, I’ve been an admirer of your comments on Twitter. I’m based in CA and a fellow ME activist. My daughter, age 24, was stricken in 2006. She has been ill over half of her life and her illness has worsened recently. She lives with me and is unable to attend university, or to work or live independently. Not another sob story, just the reality that I live, along with millions of others, and why I am encouraged by the excellence of your advocacy. My comrade-in-arms here on the ME/CFS front is Shari Boxer Baker, a fellow ME/CFS parent. We strongly believe that if the 10+ U.S. nonprofits devoted to ME/CFS will not unite into “the American Heart Association” of ME/CFS and since none of the ten invest in pro-active media relations (for known reasons) to fight the neglect, misunderstanding and patient harm perpetuated by the ignorant, negligent medical community establishment, we should try to fill that gap. Because, as you said so well, we need a new story for ME/CFS. That new story, at least in the U.S., needs to include urgency and massive, sustained campaign focused on the NIH to correct the criminally low level of investment in research. Is there an opportunity for us to set a date/time to speak with you about our ideas and to get your clear-eyed feedback? We’ve spoken already with many of the “usual suspects” in our activist/advocacy world, including David Tuller. When you’re able, please let us know. Hope today is a good one for you. Best regards, Carol Broadbent


    • March 27, 2019 11:17

      Thank you for your comment and kind words, Carol. I’m so sorry to hear about your daughter. As you say, it’s the reality that we in the ME community all live with, one way or another.

      If you send me an email at then we can establish establish contact.

      Best wishes to you and Shari.


      • Judith M.L. Day permalink
        March 27, 2019 13:07

        Valerie, Thanks for your continuing your work towards improving the lives of many suffering from me/fm/mci. Each person who can make a little progress towards understanding this illness will eventually see the sum total of all our efforts. Keep up the good work!


        • March 27, 2019 14:02

          Thank you very much, Judith. As you say, we just have to keep going with the work in the hope and expectation of eventual results.



  1. The PACE Trial: David Tuller investigates – Part 1 | valerieeliotsmith
  2. PACE Trial article follow-up: the momentum continues | valerieeliotsmith
  3. More PACE: How the Spin got Spun (and the Information Commissioner gets tough…) | valerieeliotsmith
  4. ME experts call for independent review of the controversial PACE Trial | valerieeliotsmith
  5. Queen Mary University of London to appeal Information Commissioner’s decision on disclosure of PACE Trial data | valerieeliotsmith
  6. FOIA: a Briefing Note + how many PACE requests? | valerieeliotsmith
  7. Karina Hansen 2: the Ghost in the Room | valerieeliotsmith
  8. Karina Hansen 3: Update March 2016 | valerieeliotsmith
  9. Karina Hansen 4: Timeline, Torture and Tragedy | valerieeliotsmith
  10. QMUL v IC + Matthees (PACE Trial) Part 2: Documents, Open Justice and Open Data | valerieeliotsmith
  11. TRIBUNAL ORDERS RELEASE OF PACE TRIAL DATA (QMUL v the IC and Matthees) | valerieeliotsmith
  12. Karina Hansen 5: A little progress? | valerieeliotsmith
  13. Karina Hansen 6: THE HOMECOMING | valerieeliotsmith
  14. PAUSE-REVIEW-REFLECT: towards a bigger picture? | valerieeliotsmith
  15. PAUSE-REVIEW-REFLECT: towards a bigger picture? [revised version] | valerieeliotsmith
  16. Karina Hansen 8: The Aftermath Continues | valerieeliotsmith
  17. Karina Hansen 8 (updated): the aftermath continues | valerieeliotsmith
  18. Karina Hansen news + a battle with NICE (the UK’s National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) | valerieeliotsmith
  19. Trial By Error: Per Fink in New York
  20. My response to a statement from Aarhus University Hospital (Denmark) regarding a demonstration in New York City and a patient at the Hospital | valerieeliotsmith
  21. Changing the narrative #1: exploring a new approach to strategic communications in the ME community | valerieeliotsmith
  22. Changing the narrative #2: warring factions, divide & rule and death threats | valerieeliotsmith
  23. Changing the narrative 4: the QMUL judgment explained and some observations on feedback | valerieeliotsmith
  24. Anonymity, open justice and a vulnerable individual: the troubling case of Justyna | valerieeliotsmith
  25. Welcome to Law and Health | valerieeliotsmith
  26. Changing The Narrative #4: The QMUL Judgment Explained And Some Observations On Feedback – The York ME Community
  27. Public Law: FOIA redux + complaints about complaints | valerieeliotsmith
  28. Life in the time of CoronaVirus #1: Democracy, Data and Saving Lives | valerieeliotsmith
  29. Life in the time of CoronaVirus #1: Democracy, Data and Saving Lives – Valerie Eliot Smith – CCTV Installer Near Mear
  30. Life in the Time of CoronaVirus #2: the Rule of Law, a Shifting Political Landscape and a “Clash of Arms” | valerieeliotsmith
  31. COVID-19, NICE and ME: towards litigation? | valerieeliotsmith
  32. Lean in*: the IOM, Wikipedia and a bit more legal | valerieeliotsmith
  33. “A Demon on My Life”: review of an online play about living with ME (myalgic encephalomyelitis) | valerieeliotsmith

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: