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French physician is convicted of conflict of interest

French pulmonologist Michel Aubier, 69, was ordered to pay a fine of € 50,000.00 and sentenced to six years in prison, but allowed to remain free pending an appeal, He was convicted for lying at a hearing held by the French Senate. Two years ago, Aubier testified before French lawmakers and minimized the health risks posed by air pollution. He stated that the link between lung cancer and pollution, including smoke from diesel fuel, is “extremely weak.” He assured lawmakers that he did not have any conflicts of interest or connections with companies, but a few months later French newspapers Le Canard Enchaîné and Libération showed that since 1997 the physician’s name had been on the payroll of oil company Total and that he owned € 150,000 in stock of that company. Aubier was the head of the Pulmonology Department at Hospital Bichat-Claude Bernard, in Paris, and a professor at Paris Diderot University.

In March 2016, Aubier said in an interview that pollution is not carcinogenic, except in very high concentrations and principally in the case of smokers. A group of French physicians published an indignant response, listing various kinds of evidence that links pollution with cancer.

Upon rendering the judgment, Judge Evelyne Sire-Marin emphasized the seriousness of lying about a matter that concerns the public interest.