'Miracle cures lack supporting evidence': Andrew Brown examines 'cures' at centre of the controversy

MR CERULLO'S advertisement claimed 2,250 miracle cures during his mission to Earls Court last year.

However, an investigation by the Heart of the Matter television programme claimed it found no evidence of any such cures. A coroner also blamed the evangelist for the death of a woman who had an epileptic fit six days after attending one of the Earls Court shows and throwing away her medication believing she was healed.

Mr Cerullo's 2,250 figure is based on a questionnaire completed by 2,593 of those who went to Earls Court. Of these, 56 per cent claimed to have undergone a miracle. Only 9 per cent were physical miracles - 65 per cent were 'spiritual blessings'. The total was arrived at by expanding the sample size to the total number of attendances.

The Cerullo organisation has furiously denied the findings of Heart of the Matter. It promised last autumn to hold a medical symposium offering 'irrefutable documentation of case histories . . .'

But the symposium was never held. In its place, Mr Cerullo's organisation invited about 500 sympathisers to an all expenses-paid, three-day conference on divine healing in a luxury Birmingham hotel.

The conference heard reports from a medical review panel which had been unable to reach any unanimous conclusions. A panel member, Dr Martin Soole, who had been sent along by the Christian Medical Fellowship, said that 'such examination of the medical evidence as has been possible leads me to conclude that there is no evidence that anything has ocurred that is outside the realm of normal clinical experience'.

Another member, however, Dr James Muir, a GP, believes that he was cured of hay fever at Mr Cerullo's Mission to London last year and is appearing in advertisements to testify to this.

These advertisements are riduculed by Dr Peter May, an evangelical Christian GP, who points out that hay fever often disappears towards the end of June without the intervention of charismatic preachers.