Celebs urged to 'check science facts'

In collaboration with the Press Association

Scientists concerned about celebrities' ability to affect public opinion with misinformed pronouncements on science have issued a leaflet providing basic dos and don'ts.

The charity, Sense about Science, said that it had produced the leaflet because celebrity-backed campaigns could do more harm than good if they are not grounded in scientific research.

The leaflet will be distributed to VIP clubs and restaurants in the UK as well as through management agencies and publishers.

"Celebrities often have a real effect on how members of the public view particular issues, especially health and lifestyle," said Professor John Toy of Cancer Research UK.

"They have a major responsibility, therefore, to be well informed before they make statements endorsing particular treatments or products so as not mistakenly to mislead people," he told the BBC.

As well as offering sound advice on new cures such as "if it sounds too good to be true then it probably is" the leaflet provides a scientific hotline to ring for expert advice.

President of the Royal Society Lord Reeves issued a call in November for scientists to make their voices heard in public debates on scientific issues.

He warned that a vocal minority of lobbyists and campaigners sometimes drowned out other voices and led to a one sided debate.