Karl-Erik Tallmo on Sun, 15 Feb 2004 01:48:12 +0100 (CET)

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<nettime> Geneva science fraud verdict in English

Hello all,

About one year and a half ago I reported on this list about the trial 
in Geneva, where Swedish professor Ragnar Rylander, who has secretly 
worked as a consultant for the tobacco company Philip Morris for more 
than 30 years, had sued two anti-tobacco activists in Geneva - where 
the professor is also performing research - for defamation (see 
http://www.nisus.se/archive/020610e.html). They had on their web site 
(http://www.prevention.ch/) claimed that Geneva due to professor 
Rylander's research, had become the center of "a scientific fraud 
without precedent".

Rylander is not just any scientist, not just a concern for two 
European countries, he has been working as one of Philip Morris' 
three top consultants in the world, and at the same time he has been 
posing as an independent researcher into the health effects of 
passive smoking.

In two trials the anti-tobacco activists were found guilty of 
defamation but in the third, the verdict was annulled and referred 
back to the second court, which concluded its new verdict on December 
15 2003. They were now completely freed of all charges. Ironically, 
the court in its verdict uses the same phrasing as was originally 
causing the whole lawsuit. The verdict now established as a fact that 
Geneva had indeed been the center of "a scientific fraud without 

The 20 page verdict has just been translated into English: see 

The verdict in French is available at: http://www.prevention.ch/ryju151203.h=

Below is also a short overview of the whole affair.

Karl-Erik Tallmo


The Rylander affair - at a glance

29 March 2001: The two anti-tobacco organizations CIPRET-Gen=E8ve and 
OxyGen=E8ve publish their press release titled "Geneva, platform of a 
scientific fraud without precedent", where professor Rylander's 
connections with the tobacco industry are pointed out. They also 
demand that the Geneva University must investigate the matter.

30 March 2001: An investigation is initiated by the rectorate of the 
Geneva University.

20 April 2001: Ragnar Rylander sues Pascal Diethelm and Jean-Charles 
Rielle, representatives of the two anti-tobacco organizations, for 
defamation on three points: for having claimed that Rylander was 
secretly employed by the tobacco industry, that he was one of the 
most highly paid of the industry's consultants, and that he was 
responsible for a scientific fraud without precedent.

29 June 2001-24 May 2002: The first trial in the Geneva Police Court. 
Diethelm and Rielle try to prove that their allegations are correct 
and thus do not constitute defamation.

6 November 2001: The rectorate of the university of Geneva presents 
its investigation: The context in which Rylander has chosen to work 
does not "seem innocent in all respects".

24 May 2002: The verdict in the first trial: The court agrees with 
the defendants on one point, that Rylander was secretly employed, but 
the claim that he was one of the most highly paid consultants and 
that he was guilty of scientific fraud could not be proved. Rielle 
and Diethelm are imposed a fine of 4,000 CHF each. They appeal.

September 2002: The Geneva University continues the investigation in 
the light of new facts presented during the trial. On December 20, 
the university representatives acknowledge that they might even 
reassess professor Rylander's research results and communicate this 
to the scientific community, if necessary.

13 January 2003: The second verdict. The Cantonal Appeal Court in 
Geneva establishes the verdict of the Police Court. However, of the 
two counts from the earlier trial, now only one remains: the question 
of a scientific fraud without precedent. It was found that the 
defendants had proved that Rylander was one of the most highly paid 
of the industry's consultants. The fine is lowered to 1,000 CHF. 
Rielle and Diethelm appeal again.

17 April 2003 (published May 28): The Supreme Court of Switzerland 
(Tribunale F=E9d=E9rale) annuls the judgment of January 13, as being 
"incomprehensible" and "arbitrary", and refers the case back to the 
cantonal court.

15 December 2003: The Court of Justice of the canton of Geneva 
publishes its verdict, where Rielle and Diethelm are completely freed 
of all charges, and professor Rylander's work at the Geneva 
University is characterized as a "scientific fraud without precedent".


    KARL-ERIK TALLMO, writer, editor
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