With Brian Deer up for ‘Specialist Journalist of the Year’ tomorrow night at the British Press Awards, which are being held at the Savoy Hotel in London, Age of Autism re-visits the Spectator article of celebrated British journalist, Melanie Phillips. Phillips’s article documents amongst other things how Deer and the General Medical Council came to an agreement that he would not be named as complainant against Andrew Wakefield and the other Royal Free doctors so he could go on reporting the story unencumbered. Two years on the questions just go on multiplying: how for instance did it come about that the chair of GMC panels, Harvey Marcovitch, went out of his way to endorse Deer’s renewed allegations in British Medical Journal with key parts of the hearing still under judicial review (HERE )? How is it that the British state in all its manifold guises has turned a prolonged blind eye to how Deer obtained and used confidential medical and legal documents in presenting his allegations both publicly and secretly, and why the British Medical Journal and its editor-in-chief, Fiona Godlee, refuse even to allow the matter to be mentioned in it columns (HERE)? How can the BMJ go on touting allegations which are not only flawed in detail, but in basic logic (HERE)? As the British Establishment’s Lord High Executioner arrives at the Savoy for his professional apotheosis, we ask whether the media have been following the real story in the Wakefield affair.
A deer in the headlights
Melanie Phillips (Spectator 16 February 2009)
Eleven days ago, Brian Deer renewed his onslaught against Andrew Wakefield in the Sunday Times. I wrote about it here and made the point that, since Deer’s allegations sparked the General Medical Council case against Wakefield which would not have occurred without his involvement, he was effectively a principal player in the story he was reporting — a clear conflict of interest and breach of journalistic standards.
After I noted this, an American TV show last week accused Deer of journalistic misconduct in reporting a story in which he was a major player without acknowledging this fact. Deer has been trying to deny this ever since.
First he threatened to sue the TV station, denying that he had laid the initial complaint which formed the bulk of the GMC inquiry and claiming instead that the GMC had approached him for information about Wakefield following his stories:
‘I did not lay the initial complaint against Wakefield. This allegation is a fabrication, albeit rather a small one in the MMR issue. The GMC asked me for my journalistic evidence arising from published stories. It was my public duty to supply my findings to this statutory regulator.’
Well, various people did think that Brian Deer’s complaint was the trigger for the GMC inquiry. One of those people, it appears, was Brian Deer…(continue reading HERE)