The optimistic words of the globally respected oncologist, a former director of the World Health Organisation’s cancer programme, have brought hope to millions during lockdown. But his daily doses of buoyant analysis have also been met with personal threats and accusations questioning his professional integrity, some from people within the NHS and his own profession. Prof Sikora, 72, founder and medical director of Rutherford Health, said: “I consider myself to have a fairly thick skin. Working with cancer for 50 years you learn the hard way not to take things too personally. “But nothing could have prepared me for the sheer level of unpleasantness and vitriol I, and many other scientists and academics, have experienced over the course of this year.
“Yes, I believe the Government’s response at times has been disproportionate and unbalanced.
“The consequences of lockdown should not be ignored and I have done my best to highlight that. Does that make me an evil person? There has been vile abuse, personal threats, accusations against my professional integrity, I could go on.”
Prof Sikora’s father Witold, a captain in the Polish Army, arrived in Britain in 1942 and met his future wife, teacher Thomazina, at a Polish officers’ tea dance. Karol was born in 1948.
A devoted family man, he and his wife Alison have six grandchildren. But despite his positive nature, the Cambridge and Stanford scholar is repeatedly described as a charlatan, fraud, quack and even a Hitler sympathiser on Twitter.
One post read: “Professor Karol Sikora is a quack. A grifter. A right wing shill. Bought by the Iranians to wrongly diagnose the Lockerbie bomber as dying, so he could be released. He’s not a virologist. Nor an epidemiologist. He’s a quack.”
Another read: “Karol Sikora. Another **** to add to a long list. But what a triumph for the human spirit, that such a moron can become a professor at something.”
The professor and dean of medicine at the University of Buckingham said: “Time and time again I have finished a meeting with a patient to open my phone to a wave of notifications from fellow doctors accusing me of being a ‘fake’ professor or being happy to see thousands die.
“Do you call these people out and give them the attention they crave? I honestly don’t know the best way to deal with it. So far I have ignored most of them and that seems to wind them up even more. I think I will continue.
“If people have to resort to personal attacks it means they have lost the argument.
“I was a professor at Imperial until 2004. Nobody disputes that.
“I am a professor at the University of Buckingham today. Not a fake professor, if I was I’d have a lot more spare time.”
Haters claim he was paid to overstate the cancer of Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset al-Megrahi to get his early release from a Scottish jail in 2009.
Prof Sikora said all the oncologists “came to the same conclusion – he did not have long left. He went on to live for two more years, largely thanks to experimental treatment given in Libya which we could not have anticipated.
“His quality of life was really poor and he was bed-ridden for the whole of his last year.”
He denies being paid extra by the Libyans.
Prof Sikora said: “Utter lies – we were paid the standard rate in medical litigation for one day’s work and I donated mine in full to the local hospital charity.”
At times Prof Sikora has been a lone voice criticising the Government’s handling of the pandemic, demanding more transparency.
He abhors restrictions on personal freedoms but has urged Britain to obey the law.
He said: “We can disagree without being disagreeable.
“Most of us in the scientific community have done so, but there is a vocal minority who try to throw enough mud in the hope something sticks. Let’s all lift the tone as we recover from the events of this year.”