Noakes not guilty

After three years, the hearing into accusations of unprofessional conduct against Professor Tim Noakes ended with a not-guilty ruling.

Professor Tim Noakes has been exonerated.

A hearing which has continued for three years drew to a close today with the Professional Conduct Committee of the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) finding him innocent of unprofessional conduct. The decision was a 4 to 1 majority.

Professor Noakes had been charged with conducting himself unprofessionally after he gave “unconventional advice” to a breastfeeding mother, via social media.

In February 2014, Professor Noakes used Twitter to advise Pippa Leenstra that she could introduce her baby to a low carb high fat (LCHF) diet. This led to the HPCSA charging Professor Noakes with unprofessional conduct after Claire Julsing Strydom, the former president of the Association for Dietetics in South Africa, lodged a formal complaint against him.

Professor Noakes’ counsel was led by advocates Michael van der Nest and Dr Ravin Ramdass, who argued that the information provided by Professor Noakes on social media had caused no harm.

In a statement released to the media after the not-guilty finding, the Tim Noakes Foundation said: “The complainants were not able to produce evidence to support their view that a conventional low-fat diet had advantages over a LCHF diet. Nor did they present sound reasons for saying that the content of the tweet was unprofessional and ‘unconventional’.”

The cost of the hearing, which was dubbed the “the nutrition trial of the century” and began in June 2015 , reached into the tens of millions of rands for each party, the Foundation said.