Talk about Newsnight


AIDS: We expose the "goat cure" salesmen

  • Paul Mason
  • 1 Dec 06, 12:55 PM

CARD logo“The trials have now to this date gone through three phases, all of which have proved totally reliable in the cure of Aids” – that is what it said on the business plan.

If the claim were true it would be headline news for the world. Instead the headline news tonight, on Newsnight, is that we have uncovered a scheme by a British company to test a totally unproven “cure” for AIDS on patients in the African kingdom of Swaziland. The “cure” is based on goat serum.

The scheme was proposed by a British-based company called CARD, run by a man called Michael Hart Jones. He approached film actor Richard E Grant to front the scheme: Richard was born in Swaziland – fortunately he was not born yesterday: he came to us....

Newsnight decided to take a close look at the men running the goat cure: an undercover team from the programme posed as investors. We secretly filmed Hart Jones and his business partner Dr Mark Wardell telling the tale. Tune in tonight to see what they claimed about a trial they had run with the Tanzanian army – later, once they’d produced their evidence – it all turned out to be much less than a “cure”: they had not even measured the viral load of the 20 soldiers they claim to have cured.

We showed our secret filming to a real expert in HIV/AIDS – Dr Michael Adler. What angered him was not just the claim – but the attempt to rubbish anti-retroviral drugs which are being rolled out all over the world.

Read the documentary evidence we gathered.

We went to Swaziland to see for ouselves whether the claim was true that:

“antiretrovirals are regarded more as poisons than therapies and are mostly unavailable to the masses” (Card Business Proposal, November 2006).

Thankfully it is not – or certainly not there. Swaziland has an estimated 300,000 people with HIV – of which 10% have white blood cell (CD4) counts below 200. Of these, 15,000 are receiving anti-retroviral drugs – so that’s half of those who need them.

Medics in Swaziland told us that to meet the WHO target of 75% they need more money and focus by government and, guess what? A stronger message against traditional medicine and the belief in “miracle cures”. Instead, as you will see tonight, the Swaziland health minister invited CARD back to

“return to Swaziland in order to set a schedule for deciding on a starting point to move towards our joint understanding in the fight against HIV/AIDS.”

And Newsnight has evidence that the all-powerful Swazi royal family has been roped into this scheme as well. Watch tonight to see what happens when an archaic governance system (this is the last absolute monarchy in Africa) runs up against the silver-tongued salesmen of goat serum.

In the end we decided to confront Michael Hart Jones: he was proposing to launch a trial in Swaziland where 40 patients with AIDS would be given ONLY the goat cure. As Richard E Grant told us, it would be like participating in somebody’s death sentence. So we sprang the trap – tune in tonight to hear Mr Hart Jones’ attempt to explain himself.

In the meantime I will give you some of the jaw-dropping background to goat serum. It was dreamed up, literally, by a US doctor called Gary Davis. He saw himself in a dream injecting goats and concluded, as anyone would, that this was a revelation from God that goats can cure HIV.

He developed a serum – injecting HIV into goats to produce antibodies that, if HIV were any old virus, would fight the disease. But it is not: the point about it is – antibodies do not kill it. Davis applied ot the US government for a licence to trial the serum on humans, but was refused. Then in 2000 he came back into the limelight claiming that his business partner, Steve Migliaccio, had stolen 80 litres of the serum. The FDA issued a safety notice about this, warning that it may turn up in the Third World. As late as last year Gary Davis was trying to test the serum in Ghana.

Now some background on Hart Jones. He was in the Rhodesian military and after the fall of Ian Smith ran a private security company for mines all over Africa, employing 300 ex-soldiers. Then he got into financing the brutal military regime of Major Johnny Paul Koroma in Sierra Leone. Read the testimony about him here, at the truth and reconciliation commission website. Then he got involved in the goat serum business. One of the predecessor companies to CARD was called Afrasia Medic Plus. On the board of it was one Steve Migliaccio.

When I asked Hart Jones if the trial he had done in Tanzania had involved serum from Steve Migliaccio he replied “not sure”.

We’re still awaiting a response from the Swaziland High Commission to these allegations and I will post this when it arrives. Senior people in Swaziland’s health system, meanwhile, are furious – and the story is about to break in the Swazi press; so I will keep you updated on that...

Comments  Post your comment

  • 1.
  • At 07:46 PM on 01 Dec 2006,
  • Stef wrote:

It certainly gets my goat.

  • 2.
  • At 08:49 PM on 01 Dec 2006,
  • Bob Goodall wrote:

Dear Newsnight

Perhaps it shows how desperate people are and an underlying issue is the willingness of the West to allow tens of millions of their fellow human beings to die for want of the right medical help.


A hundred years from now history will judge us very harshly for this

But it shows where the moral compass of our leaders is pointing –centred on themselves

We need to reassert our democracy. The truth is that the majority of people in this country would want all people in the world with HIV to be helped, for our NHS to be funded properly, rather than the £76 billion plus on a new over specified nuclear deterrent, or money spent on aggressive wars.

I think this can all change. At the moment people are encouraged to feel powerless but I think a time is coming when the voice and values of ordinary people will be heard, and those in need in the World and here will be helped.

If we have any backbone at all, we pride ourselves on our fighting spirit we really should be pushing for this. And I mean ALL of us should be pushing for this and can push for this.

ignore the T.... in us, a view reinforced by the T... in vested interest groups that says nothing we can do can make any difference. This is a lie.

Best wishes
Bob Goodall

  • 3.
  • At 11:10 PM on 01 Dec 2006,
  • Michael R Hart-Jones wrote:

His actions are certainly unreprehencable. BTW I am not THAT Michael Hart-Jones.

Michael R Hart-Jones

  • 4.
  • At 11:17 PM on 01 Dec 2006,
  • K Pope wrote:

Perhaps Paul Mason could also investigate the scurrulous rumoured reports that:
- samples of urine contaminated with mould do not allow the growth of bacteria,
- the growth of the anthrax bacilli was inhibited when the cultures became contaminated with mold, and that
- a young English boy was injected with cowpox material from a dairymaid and became resistant to smallpox.
I think these are on a par with the goat serum story and certainly warrant a Newsnight investigation.

  • 5.
  • At 11:38 PM on 01 Dec 2006,
  • Gordon wrote:

Instead of concentrating on bent deals in Africa and even more Litvinenko, plus another non story perhaps Newsnight should concentrating more on potentially bent deals at home like Road Charging. Perhaps Newsnight could not get any politicians to come in and debate the subject for 10 mins, after all, all the main parties owe a fortune to the banks and others.

It would appear that earlier BBC News 24 coverage of the road charging debate was thoroughly biased in favour of the pro lobby. What do you expect the super rich overpaid executive of a bus and train operator to say, of course he is in favour, he stands to rip-off millions from potential extra public transport passengers and higher fares. The same is true of the RAC now that it is a listed plc not owned by the members and likewise probably also owns shares in the private companies likely to benefit.

Road Charging schemes are probably yet another conspiracy by the super rich stock market parasites to tax the ordinary working man off the road. One might expect that the former chairman of British Airways would come out in favour of such a plan, it is interesting to note that he doesn't propose a cut in air travel or new faster railways. I expect that he, his mates and all the other thieving politicians of all colours have got shares in the private companies likely to benefit. However, under the current rules they don't have to declare any share holding less than 5% of the company, a holding which could in theory be worth hundreds of thousands of pounds.

Perhaps overpaid plus expenses BBC presenters and producers have also got shares in this Stalinist / eco-fascist project which according to your HYS web-site poll is opposed by almost 75% of those ordinary working people who bothered to log in. The government could be in serious trouble if this large majority decided to go on general strike where road charging is introduced on their way to work. Such a peoples revolt could make the former fuel protests look tame by comparison.

If the government were serious about tackling congestion why not introduce annual eye-sight testing and remove the 20% of partially blind drivers from the roads. After all it is they who do 40 in a 60 limit and cause much of the bunching which causes congestion at junctions anyway. Its not lorries that hold up the traffic it is those in cars who are too scared to keep up with the traffic flow because they can't see properly. Annual eye-sight tests would also probably cut the overall accident rate, thus lessening the congestion caused by such.

Well done Justin Rowlatt for exposing the bent deal on micro wind generation which also appears to have caught the mackerel in the blog by Paul Mursell that commercial wind farms aren't much use when it comes to sustainable energy either. I believe that one offshore wind-farm only produces 28% of the projected energy, is it not time we stopped subsidising such white elephants.

  • 6.
  • At 08:41 AM on 02 Dec 2006,
  • Brian Kelly wrote:

The previous post has my backing,
just why are we not debating the "agents" of New Labours much flawed Domestic/Foreign agenda?

  • 7.
  • At 10:26 AM on 02 Dec 2006,
  • Judith Dean wrote:

Your previous correspondents obviously missed the point that it was World Aids Day. I think you did right to bring this scurrilous practice to our attention.

Having googled the Swazi Royal Family, it would appear that they have more than enough money to help their own people through well-established means by supporting the extension of the ARV programme.

A concert was held in Hastings this week for the 'Prince Lindani Trust' said to be in aid of Aids orphans in Swaziland. However the leaflet bore no contact information and we have been unable to find anything about this trust.

  • 8.
  • At 11:26 AM on 02 Dec 2006,
  • Paul Mason wrote:

Judith (#7) the concert was organised with the participation of Michael Hart Jones and in the presence of the Swazi prime minister. We knew about it and we are keen to follow up this story. So far the assurances we have from the Swazi High Commission - no sponsorship of the goat scheme and no goat trials in Swaziland - are verbal. They have not issued a public statement. Were you, or anybody you know, at the concert? Paul Mason, Newsnight

  • 9.
  • At 01:57 PM on 02 Dec 2006,
  • Pauline wrote:

I know you are probably very busy but I would very much appreciate a reply to my earlier message, if not on your blog then to my email address given.

I was at the concert on Wednesday night at the white rock theatre, hastings. my daughters school choir were participating.

On the back of the coloured leaflets about the trust there were the London and Swaziland addresses of the High Commission. If you would like one I would be more than willing to send one to you.

  • 10.
  • At 02:55 PM on 02 Dec 2006,
  • Jennie Smyth wrote:

I spent this summer volunteering in Swaziland with an NGO called Manzini Youth Care which works with marganilized youth which have been forced onto the streets because of issues such as the Aids epidemic.

What i noticed most during my time there was the complete disregard that the King Mswati has for his people, it really doesnt surpirse me that he wants to invest in goat serum rather than face up to the real issues in swaziland, after all he spent more on issuing the royal household with new luxury cars than he did fighting HIV/Aids

  • 11.
  • At 05:07 PM on 02 Dec 2006,
  • maddie wrote:

I know him and his family since primary school and I do not tkink they would do such a thing I dont think it is fair that they took all the nice bits that he said and done and make it look like he is scamming the swazi people.

  • 12.
  • At 05:20 PM on 02 Dec 2006,
  • ellis wrote:

I know the family and I go to school with them and Lindani and his siblings and if you ask me what he has done is purely out of the kindness of his own heart and helping people with HIV! why would he go around scamming people less fortunate? what he has done could change lives because no one has yet found a cure for HIV. refering to the tenth comment at least Lindani cares and that is why he started the trust.

  • 13.
  • At 07:12 PM on 02 Dec 2006,
  • Chandira wrote:

Absolutely right on in reporting on this and uncovering it.
I think we are far too self-concerend generally to the exclusion of people elsewhere.
We are all Humanity, no matter where we are from, and should be treated with equal love and respect, not nonsense about road charging schemes, that diverts us from the important issues like Aids and world wide health.. That really is small potatoes, compared.

What a wonderful bit of investigative journalism. One programme like this is enough to make the whole licence fee worthwhile.

I have often wondered how many quacks (homeopaths etc) are deluded but honestly believe what they say, and how many are cynically in the business to make money. Not much doubt in thio case at least.

The only thing that spoiled this wonderful programme was reading the two posts above from people who think it far more important that they should be free to produce all the pollution they want.

  • 15.
  • At 10:54 PM on 02 Dec 2006,
  • maddie wrote:

Its alright to use something with pigs on humans but he isnt allowed to help get rid of HIV aids that is out of order and the people who filmed him are out of order too!!!!!! He would never scam SwaziLand!!!!!!!!!!

  • 16.
  • At 05:04 AM on 03 Dec 2006,
  • Judith Dean wrote:

Dear Paul, We didn't go to the concert, although we understand many children and parents gave generously of their time and talents to make it a success, despite the expensive tickets. I haven't seen the leaflets referred to in 9, but there was no information or contact details about the trust on the fliers advertising the event, and nothing comes up when it is googled. I find it hard to understand why such a hugely wealthy and powerful family has to solicit money from us in the name of charity to help remedy the appalling social and economic situation in their own country. I understand the Prince is only a child and accept that he may be doing this in good faith, but the circumstances certainly make one rather cautious.

I produced Paul's piece and dealt with Michael Hart-Jones from the moment that Richard E Grant tipped me off about the scheme. Maddie and Ellis - you may be right - MHJ may be a very, very nice man when he's not out selling unproven AIDS cures. K Pope you seem to be comparing Goat Serum with the discovery of penicillin or vaccination. On that you're straightforwardly wrong.
It is twelve years since Gary Davis of Tulsa, Oklahoma had a dream about being naked with a goat. Twelve years since that dream inspired him to launch goat serum. In all that time a whole collection of unlikely characters have claimed to carry out miracle cures with Goat Serum but for some reason not a single one has published a paper in a peer-reviewed scientific journal showing goat serum is a worthwhile treatment for AIDS or HIV. Why is that?
One view is that there is a conspiracy to suppress the good news - a conspiracy involving all the big drug companies, all the AIDS specialists, all the scientific journals and every science journalist on the planet and that if we only gave Michael Hart Jones $98 million the world’s AIDS problems would be solved. Another would be that the individuals who are plugging Goat Serum - some of whom are under criminal investigation, others have been accused of money-laundering, diamond smuggling, theft, running private armies, supporting coups and endangering human lives - are a bunch of fraudsters, conmen and dreamers who have sucked decent people into their schemes. Watch the film again and make your mind up. I will be posting a short history of the individuals involved and some of the documents they have produced on the Newsnight site on Monday.

  • 18.
  • At 01:22 PM on 03 Dec 2006,
  • Bernard Halle wrote:

Is this really the cutting edge of Newsnight reporting? Even a child could have seen that there was something fishy about a goat's serum cure for aids.

  • 19.
  • At 04:07 PM on 03 Dec 2006,
  • Steve wrote:

What about an expose into all political and corporate interests in the UK that have a vested interest in the tobacco industry.

Their drug does no good either - in fact it kills people.

  • 20.
  • At 04:46 AM on 04 Dec 2006,
  • Sherman wrote:

Your information on the goat serum is not accurate! Dr. Gary R Davis research does work ! The fact that people steal others research and try to profit from it is the case here...I think your paper should have done a better job in researching out Dr. Davis. Get a on camers interview with him.."Set a trap" for him to talk about his research and to identify how many other want to be scientist have tried to steal his patents and research. Look at the following web sites...since your research did not uncover... and Call the Universities where the early test were done...Contact some of the patients from these links that "Claim " to have taken the medicine...The medicine is not GOAT SERUM...It is Biological Activated Cytokin Extract....and Poly Clonial Anti bodies..Why not get a camera crew and find out why Steve Mig stole the medicine,,where did the medicine come from, and why no one But Dr. Gary R Davis can make this medicine properly...Steve and his buddies are theveis that were rightly caught..Thank you for that..But the medicine does work..Do a little bit better reporting....All your readers deserver that! Wow what happens when it gets out that your reportters totally blew an opportunity to report something like this....DO the work..the information is all on those links...I can always help you if you get stuck...



Sherman - you point us in the direction of two links. I am already familiar with The Choice because it is Gary Davis's own publicity site and the most significant thing about it is what isn't there. Gary Davis hasn't been able to find a single piece of academic research published in a peer-reviewed journal showing Goat Serum is a worthwhile treatment for AIDS. I couldn't make your other link work but Wendsaids doesn't sound like the name of a scientific journal either. We have done the work but If you can find any proper scientific research showing that Goat Serum is as effective as anti-retrovirals please send us a link or a reference.

  • 22.
  • At 09:44 AM on 04 Dec 2006,
  • Louise wrote:

Meirion - yes, the web page is there. I have been following this sorry saga with interest and came across the site when googling last week. It's a sophisticated site appearing to be a fancy vehicle for Gary Davis. Oddly, the links for contacting the organisation or for downloading Davis's CV do not work!

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