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The Montreux Clinic is fighting an order to close this month on the grounds that the head of an inquiry into the controversial treatment centre for eating disorders was biased in his ruling to shut it down.

The clinic says Victoria's Medical Health Officer, Dr. Richard Stanwick, was prejudiced in his decision to revoke its licence last month. He ordered it to close by Jan. 31 after he found it violated numerous British Columbia health laws and put some patients' lives at risk.

The facility is applying for a stay of the order to allow it to remain open while it appeals the ruling.

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"This process has taught us a lot," founder Peggy Claude-Pierre said at a brief news conference at the clinic's mansion yesterday.

She refused to answer questions about specific licence violations in Dr. Stanwick's ruling, saying only that she will work with health authorities in her fight to stay open. "I'm willing to do anything that will preserve the health and dignity of my patients."

The clinic also released its written reasons for seeking a stay and appealing the decision yesterday. A date for the appeal, to be heard before the quasi-judicial Community Care Appeal Facility board, has not been set.

The ruling "reflected a biased and unfair characterization," the clinic's nine-page written notice of appeal said. "These examples are often coupled with the appearance of sarcasm, condescension, one-sided recitation of relevant evidence, and universally negative inference-drawing, even from the most positive . . . evidence."

The clinic has received international attention for its unconventional methods of combatting eating disorders. Ms. Claude-Pierre is regarded as guru in the treatment of anorexia and bulimia even though she has no medical training.

She opened the private clinic, which charges up to $1,400 a day, after treating her two daughters for anorexia.

Licensing authorities for Victoria's Capital Health Region will oppose the clinic's application to stay open while awaiting the appeal.

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"The position licensing is taking is that the entire [clinic]has to be shut down," licensing lawyer Guy McDannold said yesterday.

Dr. Stanwick would not comment on the case yesterday.

In a 147-page ruling last month, he found the clinic force-fed and physically restrained and emotionally abused some patients. He also found Ms. Claude-Pierre and Mr. Harris lied under oath about treating three-year-old David Bruce as a live-in patient in the adult-care facility for 14 months.

The clinic's grounds for appeal also say the ruling is a "breach of fundamental justice" because Dr. Stanwick, a pediatrician, used his own expert opinions untested by cross-examination on evidence of the clinic's treatment of a toddler for anorexia. He found the clinic's residential treatment of David, separated from his mother as a live-in patient and in the care of a suicidal self-mutilating patient, jeopardized the boy's health and was "a risky venture." Two experts testified the child likely never had anorexia.

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