By John Stone
My letter to the BBC’s Editorial Complaints Unit:
I forward correspondence relating to the programme 'Science Betrayed'….
I request that the Editorial Complaints Unit look into this matter in an impartial way. I note that I originally wrote to Adam Rutherford the programme presenter asking whether he knew at the time programme went on air that Prof Pepys was in business partnership with MMR manufacturers GSK. He didn't deign to reply but the issue was plainly whether the programme makers realised that this was not an independent opinion. Either they knew and didn't say, or Prof Pepys did not divulge this relevant information. It is disturbing that neither the programme's producers, or the acting editor of BBC have found any way of replying to that question (that Prof Pepys is entitled to work with GSK is beyond dispute). While Andrew Wakefield is being accused of everything under the sun there is apparently no imperative on his accusers to disclose their competing interests or for the BBC, out of pure objectivity, to report. So (1) the presenter doesn't answer, (2) the producers won't answer and (3) neither will their on-line manager. The best we can conclude is that they have been embarrassed.
Regarding the second matter, I would point out that it only arose because the CHS blog pointed out (HERE and HERE ) that Mr Deer's accusations of fraud, such as they were, hinged on the claim that Wakefield altered information from GP notes, which was impossible because neither he nor any of his co-authors had access to the GP notes at the time: they did, however, have the very important red books (or very unimportant red books according to Mr Deer). So now your producers have shifted the ground to a tenuous and unwarranted reading of the Lancet paper, claiming that it said there that the GP notes had been used. But why would the paper have claimed such a thing which would be so out of the way in UK hospital practice? Which consultants routinely ask for all a patients GP notes to be forwarded? It seems much more likely that people under pressure are now making things up on the hoof.
I would add that apart from the missing disclosures already listed in the correspondence that an unbiased and properly researched programme should have pointed out the unusual arrangement that Mr Deer had with GMC lawyers so that he could go on reporting the case in the media without being named as complainant, and without having to give evidence (see Melanie Phillips A Deer in the Headlights HERE). It should have been mentioned that a week before Mr Deer first launched his fraud allegations in the Sunday Times in February 2009 the newspaper's proprietor, Mr James Murdoch, joined the board of GSK with a responsibility to review "external issues that might have the potential for serious impact upon the group's business and reputation" (HERE), and the British Medical Journal and Fiona Godlee (who was also interviewed in the programme), and who commisioned the recent articles are in business partnership with MMR manufacturer Merck, and their recently established awards are sponsored by both Merck and GSK (HERE). This would have been competent and fair reporting, and would have given the public a balanced view of what they were listening to.
Meanwhile, BMJ have failed to publish my civil and germane letter to Michael Fitzpatrick, who reviewed the programme for them:-
"Elementary protocol and conflicts"
I wonder whether Michael Fitzpatrick would bring his experience as a medical practitioner in the UK to bear upon Brian Deer's assertion in the programme under review  that Andrew Wakefield was an incompetent doctor because the 'Lancet paper'  incorporated data from what Deer termed 'baby books' or more properly Personal Child Health Records (red books) and not the GP notes that Deer made use of in bringing his allegations of fraud. Would he not agree with me that it would be most unusual for a GP to forward an entire set of patients notes with a referral but absolutely routine for parents of young children to attend medical appointments with their red books which contain lots of important information? And would he not also agree that the referral would not have been to Wakefield, who as we know was a researcher at the hospital, but to Prof Walker-Smith who ran the paediatric gastro-enterology clinic, and according to the paper compiled the patient histories?
I wonder where he sees the incompetence and irregularities in this?
Also if he is being incredibly fastidious about competing interests should he not in 2004 when writing in the Lancet about MMR have disclosed his trusteeship of Sense about Sciences which was at the time supported by MMR manufacturers and defendants GSK , and should not Adam Rutherford or Prof Mark Pepys have disclosed in the programme under review that Pepys heads a business consortium between University College London and GSK ?
 'Science Betrayed' A radio documentary by Adam Rutherford HERE
 Wakefield AJ, Murch SH, Anthony A, Linnell, Casson DM, Malik M, et al. Ileal lymphoid nodular hyperplasia, non-specific colitis, and pervasive developmental disorder in children. Lancet1998;351:637-41.
 John Stone 'MMR Science and Fiction: the Richard Horton stoy IV, 1 October 2004 HERE
John Stone is UK Editor for Age of Autism.