By Dan Olmsted and Mark Blaxill
At the source of the General Medical Council’s (GMC) investigation and trial of Dr. Andrew Wakefield lies a man named Brian Deer. In his first Sunday Times article on February 22, 2004, Deer accused Wakefield of launching a “public panic” over the connection between the MMR vaccine and autism by failing to disclose his conflict of interest and participation as an expert witness on behalf of a group of families involved in vaccine litigation against the British government. Since then, Deer has alleged many things. Among them are the following: that he is an independent, investigative journalist; that he is not a complainant in the GMC investigation; that Wakefield is guilty of medical misconduct; and that Wakefield and his co-authors committed scientific fraud.
According to documents obtained by Age of Autism (Melanie Philips of The Spectator reported on these documents last month, but we provide for the first time a copy of the key document HERE and new information on Dr. Wakefield’s complaint against Deer; a copy of Dr. Wakefield's original 3/13 complaint to PCC is HERE and the addendum is HERE. Deer’s claim that he is not the complainant in the GMC investigation is false. In a February 25, 2004 email addressed to Tim Cox-Brown of the GMC, Deer first listed the GMC reference numbers of Drs Andrew Wakefield, John Walker-Smith and Simon Murch, and then wrote the following opening sentence.
“Following an extensive inquiry for the Sunday Times into the origins of the public panic over MMR, I write to ask your permission to lay before you an outline of evidence that you may consider worthy of evaluation with respect of the possibility of serious professional misconduct on the part of the above named registered medical practitioners”
This statement stands in stark contrast to claims Deer has recently made denying he was a complainant in the GMC investigation. On February 19, 2009, amid growing concern over claims that Deer had failed to disclose his conflict, Deer made the following statement on a public blog,
“the GMC’s procedures include monitoring media coverage for possible cases to be referred to fitness to practise committees. The GMC - following its own procedures – then approached me and asked if I had anything to substantiate what had appeared in The Sunday Times. I willingly supplied them with many of my files on the subject.”
In the copy of the document obtained by Age of Autism you can see for yourself that Deer is lying:
• He was not approached with an inquiry from the GMC, rather he approached the GMC himself and was “writing to ask [their] permission” to do so.
• He did not provide substantiation for an existing inquiry, rather he took the initiative himself “to lay before you an outline of evidence.”
• He did not presume that the GMC was following up on his article from three days before in pursuance of its own procedures, rather he urged they follow up on evidence “that you may find worthy of evaluation.”
• He did not merely respond to the GMC’s monitoring procedures, rather he sent Cox-Brown the GMC reference numbers for the three doctors, a clerical detail that only a complainant would think worthy of inclusion.
In her thorough report on Brian Deer’s role in the GMC trial, “A Deer in the Headlights”, Melanie Philips placed Deer’s introductory sentence to Timothy Cox nearly halfway through a lengthy article. We suspect that many may have missed this key statement. It proves clearly that while Deer has represented himself as an objective journalist, he has been reporting on a complaint that he made himself. Playing the dual role of journalist and complainant, Deer has misrepresented himself as an independent party. In the ultimate irony, Deer is guilty of the same offense—failure to disclose a conflict of interest—that he accuses Wakefield of committing. As one source close to the investigation commented, “that’s not just a smoking gun, that’s a video of Brian Deer pulling the trigger.”
In the years since his original article launching a widespread campaign of character assassination against Dr. Wakefield, Deer has written infrequently for The Sunday Times (before his February 8 articles accusing Wakefield and his co-authors of falsifying clinical records, Deer had written nothing for the newspaper since July 15, 2007) and has no other visible means of support. This previously unseen document demonstrates that Deer has lied about his role as a complainant in the GMC. It also raises a disturbing question.
If Brian Deer is lying about his role as a source of the GMC complaint against Dr. Wakefield, what else is he lying about?
Dan Olmsted is Editor and Mark Blaxill is Editor at Large for Age of Autism.