Quack doctor faces jail for discredited Aids 'cure'

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Basil Earle Wainwright claims to have found a cure for Aids and wants to share it with the suffering people of Kenya, his adopted country. But first the Briton must concentrate on helping himself as he faces the possibility of a lengthy stretch in jail for promoting his discredited cure.

Basil Earle Wainwright claims to have found a cure for Aids and wants to share it with the suffering people of Kenya, his adopted country. But first the Briton must concentrate on helping himself as he faces the possibility of a lengthy stretch in jail for promoting his discredited cure.

On Tuesday Mr Wainwright, also known as Dr Stone, was charged in a Nairobi court with making "polyatomic oxygen" - a concoction he claims has cured over 500 Aids victims but which has been outlawed by Kenyan health authorities and slammed by the medical establishment.

Former patients said that the unorthodox treatment - which involves pumping ozone directly into the patient's bloodstream - was expensive, costing up to £2,000 per case, traumatic, and ultimately it was ineffective.

The 66-year-old Wiltshire man has denied all charges and was released on a bond of 200,000 shillings (£1,730) on Tuesday. Yesterday he doggedly defended his controversial treatment. "They call me a crook and a conman but that is the greatest compliment I could receive," he told The Independent from his office in a Nairobi suburb, "because it puts me in the same category as Galileo and Edison".

If found guilty he faces a maximum sentence of seven years or deportation. But jail is nothing new to Mr Wainwright, who has already spent several years in prison over the last two decades.

In 1983 he was convicted of cheating the television personality Noel Edmonds of £70,000 over a deal involving a speedboat engine. Then in 1990 he was imprisoned in the United States for four years on charges of fraudulently holding himself out as a doctor. He fled the US in the early Nineties while still on probation. A US embassy spokesman in Nairobi confirmed last night that he was wanted by both the Federal Bureau of Investigation and local police authorities in Florida.

In 1996 Wainwright was enthusiastically welcomed to Kenya for promising his "polyatomic apheresis" treatment would provide a solution where conventional medicine had failed. An estimated 750,000 Kenyans have died of Aids and at least two million more are carrying the HIV virus.

Mr Wainwright's work won public support from certain church figures and even from Winnie Madikizela, former wife of South Africa's former president Nelson Mandela. But reports soon filtered out of failed treatment of patients who had paid massive bills to the Briton, known as "Dr Roderick Stone".

Mildred Wambui brought her HIV-infected daughter, Brenda, to Mr Wainwright in May 1997. For five months the five-year-old girl received daily treatments of ozone at a cost of 7,000 shillings (£60) per week. But the uncomfortable treatment - administered using an oxygen mask, needles and an tube inserted in the anus - failed to turn the disease around and Brenda died the following November.

"Brenda was terrified during every session but we were ready to try anything," said Mrs Wambui. The treatment was her husband's idea. "He was convinced it would work We wanted to take it as a family but we didn't have the money. So we chose our daughter because she was the most precious."

Mr Wambui died of Aids last year.

After receiving a series of similar complaints, the Kenyan health authorities deemed Mr Wainwright's operation illegal in 1998. They have made a number of attempts to close it down. Last January police and health officials raided a private clinic operated by Mr Wainwright in an affluent neighbourhood of the coastal town of Mombasa. The "doctor" had fled but they found a 10-bed hospital ward and medical equipment. A nurse confirmed to police that patients had been receiving the outlawed treatment. Months later the police caught up with Mr Wainwright and arrested him.

"I don't want to say anything except that we are very happy he is in court," said Dr Richard Muga, the director of Kenya's medical service yesterday.

But Mr Wainwright stands by his controversial treatment. Speaking from his home in the suburb of Karen, he said he had 519 "fully documented and proven" cases of HIV reversal thanks to polyatomic apheresis treatment.

"If they want to get rid of me they should test it and disprove it. I am the only person in the world who holds a patent for the inactivation of HIV," he said, quoting the patent number as 6027688.

The court case was being brought by senior Kenyan medical figures who were "quaking at the knees" out of fear that his treatment would be seen to be successful, he said. He refused to elaborate any further, excusing himself because he had "important studies to do". The website of his Kenyan company, Polyatomic Apheresis Research Limited, (www.polyo2.org) offers further information. It says that polyatomic apheresis not only reverses HIV but also cures a wide range of life-threatening conditions including cancer, tumours, hepatitis, tuberculosis multiple sclerosis and pneumonia.

According to the biographical information, Mr Wainwright was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for Medicine three times. He worked as a research consultant for the General Motors, Ford and Chrysler car companies in the US during the Seventies. In the late Eighties he worked in the Ministry of Defence, developing an electrical "stinger" device for riot-control use by the Royal Ulster Constabulary in Northern Ireland.

A British embassy spokesman in Nairobi could not comment on whether Mr Wainwright had worked for the MoD. However, he said the embassy wished to speak to the man about a second passport he is understood to hold in the name of Roderick Edward Stone. "We have asked Mr Wainwright for clarification on who exactly he is. He has yet to come back to us," said the spokesman.

A report in the Daily Nation newspaper last week said Mr Wainwright had claimed that the second passport was provided by MI5 to help him escape the US, where his life was under threat.