'The Lancet' editor sacked for publicising editorial changes

Rhona MacDonald broke confidentiality policy by emailing original and changed versions to friends.

Rhona MacDonald, senior editor at The Lancet medical journal, has been sacked after she publicised editorial changes made to her article by the journal's editor Richard Horton, thus breaking publisher Elsevier's confidentiality policy.

MacDonald emailed the original and the changed versions of the editorial she wrote to her friends and colleagues.

MacDonald, who worked at the general medical journal for over three years, noted that the Horton changed the meaning of the editorial about the UK's Department for International Development (DFID) without consulting her.

MacDonald said Horton turned the article to be critical of the department and that the published editorial is harmful to the poor people of the world, the life sciences news journal, The Scientist, has reported.

The article, published in the 20 March issue of The Lancet, said the UK government's idea to separate responsibilities between development and foreign policy weakens the country's beneficial influence.

MacDonald's version was reportedly much more complimentary of the DFID. Elsevier said it did not agree with her statements and declined to comment further.