Councillor Roy Pennington accuses phone mast campaigners of "scaremongering"

I've modified Jennifers excellent piece on Adam Burgess as a response to Roy Penningtons irresponsible letter to The Argus commending him (hope you don't mind Jennifer) and copied it below. If anyone is thinking of sending a letter to The Argus, do check your letter doesn't sound like similar to mine and try to keep it to below 250 wwords (though I couldn't).


Graham, Brighton

Councillor Roy Pennington (Argus Jan 21) accuses phone mast campaigners of "scaremongering" and advises people to read Dr Adam Burgess's work which denies that they are harmful.

Sir William Stewart, the Government’s Chief Scientific Advisor and head of the National Radiological Protection Board, has renewed his call for a ban on children under 8 using mobiles, and for 9 to 14 year olds to only use them in emergencies. Several countries have already banned their use by the under 16s. He is concerned that scientific research from around the world shows evidence of serious harm from radiation from mobile phones and masts well below the current International Commission on Non Ionising Radiation Protection guidelines. He recommends new planning laws to protect the health and safety of the public, and that masts should not be placed near schools.

Unable to argue the real science, the best the Telecom companies can do is call on the services of shrinks and the likes of sociologist Adam Burgess, to subtly imply that Sir William Stewart is psychologically ill equipped for his job. The feeling one gets is that the British public are mentally unhinged if they take seriously the precautionary approach advised by Stewart. “It’s all inconsequential,” the ubiquitous Dr Burgess states.

As he does his many interviews, spinning some outrageous propaganda for the telecom companies and hyping his silly book, his "throw caution to the wind’ attitude with regard to the health and safety of children is criminally irresponsible.

When Mast Sanity member Jennifer Johnson raised this point in a phone-in with Dr Burgess, all he could do was laugh. When it comes down to the real argument, people like this simply aren’t up to the job. However, why point out their failings? The national organisation Mast Sanity is now gaining huge momentum, and it's very much to our advantage to have people like Dr Burgess batting for the other side.

It is truly shocking and criminal that anyone should advocate such dangerous nonsense as ignoring the precautionary principle with regard to children and to send out a message which could have such serious consequences. Of course we all hope that the worst case scenario doesn’t happen. But we can’t guarantee that it won’t, anymore than we can guarantee that it will. Right now the evidence of harm to health is mounting alarmingly.

The least we can do for the sake of the next generation, is guard against the possibility – and those who say this is the action of fools and fanatics, have obviously not learned the lessons of history. Or perhaps it has nothing to do with ignorance – and everything to do with greed, self interest and an utter lack of morality.

Graham Parfitt,
Florence Road


As an antidote to the scaremongering of the two letters on the risk of cell phones and masts (Letters, Jan 17), try reading Dr Burgess's Cellular phones, Public Fears And A Culture Of Precaution (2004).

It is a sober reflection on the history of mainly media-driven health panics which gives "crying wolf" and "once bitten twice shy" whole new meanings.

Coun Roy Pennington

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Januar 2005

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