Best of AofA: Brian Deer and the Davis Brothers
Documents Show Dr Andrew Wakefield Innocent; BMJ & Brian Deer Caught Misrepresenting Facts

Best of AofA: Lancet Boss Failed to Disclose Own Conflicts to Parliament while Denouncing Wakefield

ReedElsevier460 Managing Editor's Note: This post first ran in March, 2010.

By John Stone

Sir Crispin Davis, until recently chief executive of Reed Elsevier which owns the Lancet, failed to disclose his own conflicts while denouncing Andrew Wakefield to the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee in March 2004. Sir Crispin failed to disclose either that he was a non-executive director of MMR defendants, GlaxoSmithKline, or that it was his own brother Sir Nigel Davis who had endorsed the Legal Services Commission’s decision to pull the plug on the funding of the case in the High Court 3 days before (HERE).

This was barely more than a week after allegations had been levelled against Wakefield by Lancet editor Richard Horton, and Sunday Times journalist Brian Deer.  Nor do Davis’s conflicts ever seem to have been mentioned by Horton.

Remarkably, these relationships had been mentioned in Sunday Times article about Sir Crispin, just weeks earlier:

 "Family get-togethers could become galling for Davis if he ever slips up, such is the incredible success he and his brothers have achieved. One of them, Ian, is managing director of McKinsey, the management consultancy, another, James, is a partner at the top law firm Freshfields, while a third, Nigel, is a High Court judge.

"Davis’s only other City job is as a non-executive board member at Glaxo Smith Kline, a position he secured last year."


This did not stop Sir Crispin accusing Wakefield as he was cross-examined before the committee by Dr Evan Harris MP who had accompanied Deer to the Lancet offices 12 days earlier.  He told Harris:

At the time of the submission of the article there was no admission of conflict of interest. Three months later there was a written letter. I think I have got it somewhere here.“

To which Harris interjected:

“I have it here as well, 7 May 1998.:

And Davis responded:

"It actually says, 'There is no conflict of interest'. Should the editor then—"

However, what the interchange hides is the fact that Wakefield disclosed his involvement with the litigation while denying that there was a conflict - all of which had anyway long been known to the Lancet (AoA Smoke and Mirrors , AoA The Last Day of Wakefield's Defence). In the letter published on 2 May 1998 Wakefield had stated:

"A Rouse suggests that litigation bias might exist by virtue of information he has downloaded from the internet: from the Society for the Autistically Handicapped. Only one author (AJW) has agreed to help evaluate a small number of these children on behalf of the Legal Aid Board. These children have all been seen expressly on the basis that they were referred through normal channels (eg, from general practitioner, child psychiatrist, or community paediatrician) on the merits of their symptoms. AJW has never heard of the Society for the Autistically Handicapped and no fact sheet has been provided by them to distribute to interested parties. The only fact sheet we have produced is for general practitioners, which describes the background and protocol for the investigation of children with autism and gastrointestinal symptoms. Finally all those children referred to us (including the 53 who have been investigated already and those on the waiting list that extends into 1999) have come through the formal channels described above. No conflict of interest exist."

Davis’s evidence was defective in not mentioning that Wakefield had made a disclosure while denying –  correctly – that there was any conflict in the paper (nor was he corrected by Harris). He was also wrong in implying that Wakefield had taken 3 months to respond. The letter was published only 9 weeks after the original paper, and was responding to a letter from Dr Rouse dispatched only four days after publication, the delay being determined entirely by the Lancet and not by Wakefield.

The delay quickly became a key part of the Lancet’s defence, with Horton claiming that he took Wakefield to mean that he had been engaged by the Legal Aid Board after the publication of the paper. Horton responded to Wakefield in the Journal on 17 April 2004:

"We do not accept Andrew Wakefield and colleagues' interpretation of the letter published in The Lancet on May 2, 1998,..which was, in any event, only published 3 months after the original 1998 Lancet paper."

And when Horton was examined by Sally Smith QC at the GMC in August 2007 the delay was beginning to extend to four months:

“Smith: Looking at the wording of the sentence you referred to "only one author that agreed to evaluate a small number of these children on behalf of the Legal Aid Board", you say you took that to mean since the publication of the paper and we are now some three or four months on.”

To which Horton responds with a single word:

“Yes” (First amended complaint).   This delay – which seems to have been so important to Horton’s and the Lancet’s case against Wakefield  - has never had any basis in fact. 
 
John Stone is UK Editor for Age of Autism.
 
 
 

Comments

Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

AutismGrandma

Herr Crispin Davis is apparently the "Minister of Propaganda" for GlaxoSmithKline. "Knighted in 2004 for his services to the information industry." He received 86,000 British pounds in stock awards in 2008 from GSK, for whom he serves on the board as Director.

So this guy has a major obvious conflict of interest: GSK profits from the sale of MMR, and Herr Davis is Chief Executive Officer of the company which owns the Lancet, who retracted Dr. Wakefields study. Meanwhile he is Knighted for his services to the information industry, so this means that this guy is addressed by the title "Sir" (although I can think of much more appropriate titles) So Britain, the same ally that fought against the Nazis in WWII, is now embracing Nazis and giving them royal titles.

Here's the Bio and his financial compensation as listed at Forbes link: http://people.forbes.com/profile/crispin-davis/37085

Crispin Davis

Chairman of the Board; Chief Executive Officer of the Company and Reed Elsevier Group PLC
Reed Elsevier NV
Amsterdam , NL
Sector: SERVICES / Publishing - Periodicals
Officer since September 1999

Director , GlaxoSmithKline PLC
Middlesex
Sector: HEALTHCARE / Drug Manufacturers - Major

59 Years Old
Sir Crispin Davis was appointed Chief Executive Officer of Reed Elsevier Group plc, Reed Elsevier PLC and Reed Elsevier NV in September 1999. Knighted in 2004 for his services to the information industry. Non-executive director of GlaxoSmithKline plc. Prior to joining Reed Elsevier, was Chief Executive Officer of Aegis Group plc. From 1990 to 1993 was a member of the main board at Guinness plc, and Group Managing Director of United Distillers. Spent over 20 years at Procter and Gamble where he held senior positions in the UK and Germany, before heading up the North American Food Business.

Compensation for 2008
Salary £1,181,100.00
Bonus £1,074,801.00
All other compensation £29,246.00
Total Compensation £2,285,147.00

Director Compensation (GlaxoSmithKline PLC) for 2009

Fees earned or paid in cash £102,000.00

Director Compensation (GlaxoSmithKline PLC) for 2008

Stock awards £86,000.00

Director Compensation (GlaxoSmithKline PLC) for 2007

Fees earned or paid in cash $70,000.00

Director Compensation (GlaxoSmithKline PLC) for 2006

Fees earned or paid in cash $70,000.00

Director Compensation (GlaxoSmithKline PLC) for 2005

Fees earned or paid in cash $70,000.00

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Working...
Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been saved. Comments are moderated and will not appear until approved by the author. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.

Working...

Post a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear until the author has approved them.

Your Information

(Name and email address are required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)