By Martin Walker
In yet another sickening betrayal of parents, patients and those suffering from pharmaceutical adverse reactions. Brian Deer has repeated his basic thesis that the 12 children amongst many who were referred to the Royal Free Hospital and included in the 1989 Lancet paper, did not show any signs of serious illness and certainly had not suffered adverse reaction to their MMR vaccination.
This story is not new, both deer and the GMC prosecutors made it the basis of their case during the Fitness to Practice Hearing, held over three years at the GMC in London. Deer's earliest adherence to this line can be seen plainly in Alan Golding's superb film, Selective Hearing, which features Deer ignorantly arguing with parents outside the GMC while the hearing was in progress. (this hour long film can be seen at MEFEEDIA and Viddler.
Although the BMJ in publishing the first of Deer's articles, make much of the fact that he crafted his argument from the voluminous hearing transcript, this is far from the case. Deer's view that the children were not ill prior to the their involvement in their legal claim for compensation, has always been central to the prosecution case. My reports of the GMC hearing that can be read on the Cry Shame site at http://www.cryshame.com confirm this strategy was taken up by the prosecution in the GMC case. The GMC prosecutors and especially Deer had to suggest this so that they could argue that Wakefield was a mercenary who criminal took money from the legal Aid Board to support hoaxing parents who tried to milk the pharmaceutical companies.
In an argument that will be unfamiliar to North Americans, Deer poses his thesis, in the BMJ article as if Dr Wakefield was a private practitioner, not one working for the NHS; this is clearly to suggest that Andy Wakefield is a money-grabbing private practitioner as against a socially conscious NHS doctor. This of course is not true. The great majority of the National Health Service (NHS) has, from the beginning of this battle, been utterly wedded to the lies of the government and the pharmaceutical industry, that there is no such thing as vaccine damage — after all it is the NHS that plans and distributes vaccines and would in part be at fault were any claims for damages to be heard. For some period of this conflict the NHS has advertised Deer's site on its own site.
Deer's argument that a revue of the evidence of General Practitioners (GP's - the community practitioner provided on the NHS with socialised medicine) in the transcript of the hearing shows that the 12 children in the Lancet paper did not have IBD or regressive autism linked to MMR, is fundamentally tautological and depends upon a gross distortion of the evidence given at the GMC hearing; a hearing that I attended along with Deer for almost every every day of its three year intermittent sitting.
The only witnesses that might have given witness to the real condition of these children, were their parents. The GMC did not call the parents of the twelve children to the hearing because, given the terrible condition of their children and the parents confused and emotional anger, it would have been impossible at that time or even at a later date to accuse them publicly of lying. As the first line of their prosecution case, the GMC called instead the children's General Pactitioners. Some of these GPs showed reluctance to give evidence against Wakefield and some of them spoke on his behalf. One very tetchily told the hearing that he had been dragged into something too deep and that he would much rather be back in his practice tending to patients. Only a couple of GPs gave evidence to support the prosecution case — and only one with any commitment — that the children did not show signs of IBD or regressive autism. This was clearly a view in which the majority had been tutored by the prosecution. Like much of the evidence given for the prosecution at the hearing most of that given by GPs counted instead for the defence.
The majority view of the GPs was exactly what one would expect from general doctors; they knew very little about chronic or even acute symptoms of serious bowel problems and they had no idea why these problems emerged so suddenly in otherwise well developing children. In the main they were desperate, especially because of their patients and their parents 'pain', to refer the children to a centre of excellence.
At the Royal Free Hospital, each of the 12 children were subjected to a number of diagnostic tests, observations and examinations. At the end of these tests, which were thoroughly discussed in full histology meetings (which involved those who carried out the colonoscopies), it was concluded that the majority of the children showed — some minimal, some strong — signs of IBD. There was further discussion about a couple of the cases and Wakefield's view — he was after all the senior research medic, not involved in clinical work in any way — held sway.
From the beginning the GMC prosecution case rested in part on this suggestion that while the children's GP's had given then a clean but confused bill of health, once Wakefield made them the subjects of unethical research, their newly diagnosed condition made them timely witnesses in the show trial of vaccine manufacturers engineered by Wakefield and his confederate criminal the lawyer Richard Barr.
Anyone who believes the Deer is constructing an honest case against Wakefield, must take into account, both Deer's other wild and pathological assertions as well as the countless procedural irregularities, indulged in by the GMC — as time went by, the principal one of these was that the hearing took years instead of months — a ploy by the prosecution to further distort the evidence and the jurors' memory of the defendants demeanor when they gave evidence.
Other blatant irregularities included the fact that the Chair of the hearing panel (the leading jurer) held shares in GlaxoSmithKline — the manufacturer of the MMR vaccination — and following the end of the hearing publicly promoted compulsory mass MMR vaccination. The first panel chairman chosen by the GMC was made to stand down when it was revealed that he was on the original committee that sanctioned MMR for safety. One of the most convincing witnesses for the prosecution (on conflict of interests, not on the science of the paper, which he fully upheld) was Dr Richard Horton, editor of the Lancet, who at the time that Brian Deer first reported his propagandizing disinformation in the Sunday Times was managed by the managing director of Lancet's owners, Elsevier, who was also a board member of GlaxoSmithKline (Elsevier is the company that was accused last year of publishing bogus journals to promote drugs for pharmaceutical companies). After giving damning evidence on the conflict of interest issue, Dr Horton refused to return to the GMC to be further cross-examined when it was discovered that there were massive discrepancies in this evidence.
The conflicts of interests in this case go on, and on, and on, and on and yet the BMJ is now publishing articles by Deer in which he fails to declare that he works for a newspaper whose part owner and chief executive, James Murdoch, is also a non-executive member of the board of GlaxoSmithKline.
Come on, please, let's free ourselves from the behemoth of corporatism ... Deer, the BMJ and numerous paid lobbyists, are playing with patients lives in the most cynical fashion, they are part of a government and pharmaceutical company drive for 'the greater good' to prove to the public that all vaccines are completely safe. This could never be proved and is in the case of MMR patently untrue. Two brands of MMR, containing Urabe mumps virus strain, were introduced by the British government — they were passed for safety by NHS committees even though it was known that such vaccines had terrible adverse reaction consequences in Canada and Japan — only to be withdrawn in the UK in 1992 when profound, (disguised as, 'minimal') adverse reactions were recorded. Unlike the governments of Canada and Japan, the UK government has never admitted responsibility for this initial tragedy nor has it offered children or parents compensation.
It really is time that serious and brave opposition stood up to be counted. Brian Deer should be dispatched to unemployment and perhaps put on trial by some professional tribunal (do British journalists have one?) and the editor of the BMJ should issue an immediate apology for calling Dr Wakefield a fraudster (this wouldn't be my best alternative, I would much prefer that she is defeated personally in an action for defamation and is made homeless and broke by the courts). Members of both the GMC and the BMA, doctors in good standing, should speak out against this well organised but abhorrent character assassination of one of Britain's bravest and most highly regarded medical research doctors.
Because information gets lost in our modern de-constructing culture, I would like to give but one example of Deer's bogus case as it was first promoted in the Sunday Times and then pursued by the GMC prosecution. In his original article, Deer says that Wakefield gained a patent on a vaccine which he personally intended to market in competition with MMR. This is wholly untrue. The treatment that Wakefield tested on one child was to see if there was any antidote to the adverse reactions caused by MMR. Ask yourselves, how has Deer got away with such whoppers while still remaining, seemingly, the golden boy of investigative journalism? Is it not possible that he has support in high or more probably very low places?
The call by all fair minded parties should now be for an international committee of enquiry that includes parents of the Lancet children, and made up of notable professionals, to determine exactly what happened at the Royal Free Hospital and how the fix went in for the GMC prosecution.
Martin J Walker is an investigative writer who has written several books about aspects of the medical industrial complex. He started focusing on conflict of interest, intervention by pharmaceutical companies in government and patient groups in 1993. Over the last three years he has been a campaign writer for the parents of MMR vaccine damaged children
covering every day of the now two year hearing of the General Medical Council that is trying Dr Wakefield and two other doctors. His GMC accounts can be found at www.cryshame.com, and his own website is, www.slingshotpublications.com.