Investigation of miracle preachers requested
The Norwegian Health Inspectorate was last week criticized for not requesting the Attorney General’s office to review the cases involving so-called miracle preachers. Now they have made a new assessment of the issue, but do not wish to comment on why they have done so.
The fact that the Norwegian Health Inspectorate has made a new assessment is stated in a written reply that Minister of Health, Bent Høie (Conservatives), has sent to the Labour Party.
– I have been informed that the Norwegian Health Inspectorate has already made another assessment of this matter and that they have requested an indictment as a result, according to the Minister of Health.
When VG spoke to the Norwegian Health Inspectorate last week, they had not requested an indictment for the miracle preachers Svein-Magne Pedersen and Tom Roger Edvardsen. Presently they have changed their view, but do not wish to elaborate.
After VG’s disclosure of the miracle preachers, Bent Høie was shaken and said that he would look at the legislation with fresh eyes.
Høie is supported by the Health Inspectorate. They believe it is appropriate that politicians consider the legislation as there is a large grey area in the law where one can hide behind claims of religious freedom.
This led to lawyer Anne Kjersti Befring reacting strongly: Last week, she went out hard against the Health Inspectorate in VG, saying that it is unnecessary to change the law in order to clamp down on miracle preachers.
She believes that both the Health Inspectorate and the Attorney General are passive. The Health Inspectorate’s Director, Jan Fredrik Andresen, answered in the article:
– The Norwegian Health Inspectorate assumed that this is alternative medicine when we asked the police to intervene in the matter previously [in 1993]. In the aftermath, the Ministry of Health and Care has stated that prayer and other religious activities fall outside the term alternative medicine. It is essential to protect vulnerable persons in our view, and will therefore request the police to review the matter if additional information is forthcoming.
On Thursday, Deputy Director in The Health Inspectorate, Heidi Merete Rudi, confirms to VG that they have requested prosecution in the cases involving both preachers that VG has written about.
– We have re-assessed the matter, says Rudi.
– Was there any new information providing the basis for that – or have you made a re-assessment of what was known from before?
– I will not go into that, says Rudi.
She also does not want to comment on what makes the Health Inspectorate decide that they will request prosecution now, while they previously did not want to do so.
Illegal medical treatment
The Consumer Authority concluded two weeks ago, following VG’s disclosure, that they believe Svein-Magne Pedersen and Tom Roger Edvardsen are conducting illegal marketing and that they violate the law on alternative medical treatment.
This led to the preachers having to stop advertising their business.
– The preachers advertise with statements from satisfied customers, aka testimonies, which says they have been cured from a plethora of diseases. That is illegal. When their business is considered as alternative treatment, they can not express that prayer helps cure diseases, says Elisabeth Lier Haugseth about VG’s assessment. Haugseth is Director and Lawyer in the Consumer Authority
– Have you concluded with any of the assesments that the Consumer Authority has taken into account regarding the advertisements?
– Try as you might, but you will not get any more out of me regarding this, Rudi in the Health Inspectorate concludes the interview with VG.
© VG / #Norway Today