If you have to write:

… speaking from a psychiatric ward in Canberra last night …

there may be an ethical concern.

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I honestly don’t know what else to say. A traditional, commercial media outlet, thought it appropriate not only to interview a patient in a psychiatric hospital ward, but to report “confessions” made in that interview. Bravo.

UPDATE: Editor of The Punch, David Penberthy, tells me that the problem is “only at [my] end” and asks “Isn’t he allowed to put his side? He thinks he was used. He has every right to speak out.”

So let me be clear. Godwin Grech may well have “concocted” the email that has been at the centre of the recent political controversies. He may well want to talk about the external pressures he has been placed under. But at the moment he is receiving medical treatment, in a psychiatric hospital ward – which indicates, to any rational person, that he may not be capable of giving informed consent to anything, let alone an interview where he confesses to producing a fake email.

But then David Penberthy asks, “are you saying the guy can’t speak out if he feels that he was used?” I would suggest that it doesn’t matter what he feels at the moment – as a person receiving treatment, perhaps we should wait until afterward and see whether, after psychiatric treatment, he says he wants to speak out? Whatever happened to the notion of informed consent?

Can a person consent to an interview if they are receiving treatment for their (maladaptive) psychological functioning? It seems David Penberthy believes they can, while I tend to disagree. Put your view in the comments.

UPDATE #2: The Australian has all of the details on Mr Grech’s health status – straight from Mr Grech.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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