Three Blind Mice - Bad Week for Offit, Mnookin and Deer
On Autism's Cause It's Journalist MacNeil v. journalist Mnookin

Why Age of Autism Left British Medical Journal and Brian Deer High and Dry Over Their Fraud Claims

2008-06-21-high-and-dry By John Stone

“The case we presented against Andrew Wakefield that the 1998 Lancet paper was intended to mislead is not critically reliant on GP records.” So wrote Fiona Godlee (Editor-in-Chief, BMJ) in February, in effect conceding that Brian Deer’s scrutiny of GP notes which had apparently formed the main s basis of his and BMJ’s fraud allegations could not be used to support such a claim.

Back in February Age of Autism and its readers scored a great victory with it letter writing campaign, forcing editor-in-chief of British Medical Journal, Fiona Godlee, to respond to our criticisms both in our columns (HERE) and in the on-line columns of BMJ itself (HERE ).  Remarkable though this was we have perhaps not analysed carefully enough how desperate the defence she presented was.

In both versions of her response we find the sentence:

“The case we presented against Andrew Wakefield that the 1998 Lancet paper was intended to mislead is not critically reliant on GP records.”

So, in fact she conceded then and there that a fraud claim could not be based on GP notes, as originally pointed out by ChildHealthSafety (HERE ) as Andrew Wakefield and the other authors of the paper simply did not have access to them. While, we continue to contend that the data in the notes is entirely reconcilable with data in the paper (as Martin Hewitt began demonstrating yesterday HERE ) it was simply not possible for anyone to alter data from material they could not see.

As we have seen Deer responded with seething contempt on the BBC radio programme ‘Science Betrayed’, broadcast in late March, to the cogent explanation that the records referred to in the paper were the Personal Child Health Records of the children (or so-called red books) (HERE ), but by that stage Godlee  – who also had a cameo appearance on the programme - had already admitted as much.

**********************************************************************

Meanwhile, BMJ have ducked out of publishing my recent letter which bore on several relevant issues including the shifting opinions of doctor-journalist Ben Goldacre, the anomalous and unexplained fusion by Deer and the GMC of the Lancet paper with a protocol for a Legal Aid Board funded study,  and the offensive misrepresentation of myself and this matter by Brian Deer in a comment on Orac’s ‘Respectful Insolence’ blog, which I append for interest:

Mark Struthers raises an interesting question. In November 2010 Goldacre was still telling IrishHealth.com [1]:

"With respect to The Lancet, he said he believed it was a "slightly silly paper" for the journal to have published.

""But you have to remember this paper didn't actually say MMR causes autism, it didn't even speculate on that. It was accompanied by an editorial that said by the way people should be very clear that it doesn't mean that MMR causes autism.

""Also, this was a 12 subject case series report - it was a description of only 12 children's clinical anecdotes, and while this is not good evidence to say MMR causes autism, it is a perfectly legitimate thing to publish.""

Both these statements and the Guardian article cited by Struthers are at variance with the GMC finding that the "Lancet paper" was a poorly executed version of the Legal Aid Board protocol [2]. I note that when I posted on this anomaly in Rapid Responses in February 2010 no one came to set me straight: not Ben Goldacre and not Brian Deer (who did indeed contribute a response to the same thread).

Citing the panel finding:

"The Panel has heard that ethical approval had been sought and granted for other trials and it has been specifically suggested that Project 172-96 was never undertaken and that in fact, the Lancet 12 children's investigations were clinically indicated and the research parts of those clinically justified investigations were covered by Project 162-95. In the light of all the available evidence, the Panel rejected this proposition."

I wrote:

“However, it is my understanding that 162-95 was not a "project" in any normal sense but the ethical approval granted Prof Walker-Smith on his arrival at the Royal Free Hospital in September 1995 - as probably the most senior figure in British paediatric gastroenterology - to retain biopsy samples from colonoscopies for research purposes. If this is the case it would seem a basic criticism of the panel, that in reaching their view, they did not explain why this ethical permission did not obtain in this instance. We are also confronted by the oddity that the panel having concluded that the study was in fact project 172-96 then found the three doctors to be in breach of its terms at every twist and turn, instead of drawing the more obvious inference that it wasn't 172-96 at all, but an"early report" as stated. (And this, incidentally, is why several of us think that Ben Goldacre had it right in the first place.)"

On the other hand, in an atrocious personal attack on me (of which this is just an extract) in the 'Respectful Insolence' blog Deer wrote[3]:

 "The upside of this clown's cavortings was a hilarious incident where he turned up to the conclusion of Wakefield's GMC hearing, and when the chairman read out a paragraph, Mr Stone - literally - ran from the room, screaming "wrong study, wrong study", as though five panel members, five QCs and all their teams had been sitting there for two years and failed to realize they were looking at the wrong document. It was so monstrously stupid that it came round again as hugely value-for-money."

However, it should be pointed out that ridicule (or even "insolence") is not the same as argument, and that three of the QCs had presented just these points in defence evidence. It goes beyond speculation on Mr Deer's part if he thinks that they immediately changed their mind in the light of the panel's findings.

As to my hurry to get out, I didn't wish to be man-handled by the GMC staff.

[1] Niall Hunter 'Sorting the Wheat from the Chaff' 22 Novenber 2010, http://www.irishhealth.com/article.html?id=18246

[2] John Stone 'The unexplained puzzle of the GMC verdict (and reponses to Peter Flegg), http://www.bmj.com/content/340/bmj.c644.full/reply#bmj_el_231147

[3] http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2010/06/it_appears_mr_stone_doesnt_even_know_wha.php#comment-2587850

John Stone is UK Editor for Age of Autism.

 

 

 

 

 

Comments

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Sandy

“Dr. Wakefield’s crucifixion is a desperate well-orchestrated effort to restore faith in risky vaccinations that the majority of people worldwide no longer trust,” said Dr. Horowitz.

We noted that in connection with the harassment of Dr Wakefield simultaneous broadcasts from radio stations world wide announced that his work was fraudulent, and they interviewed “experts” who all declared that the MMR was perfectly safe.

We also noted that the questions and answers in these interviews were identical, irrespective of whether they were broadcast from radio stations in Europe or African countries.

Benedetta

John Stone:
I sent your article to Dr. Carmel Wallace too.
Thanks for getting all the facts so well written up and put together.

Jenny Allan

You are a mine of information John!! We are still trying to 'get our heads round' what, if anything, to do about COPE, in the light of the damning evidence you supplied.

The following Guardian 'little gem' about Goldacre looks very like that Sunday Times' disclaimer, stating Deer was not employed by them but was freelance, issued after that CNN interview where Deer stated he was employed by 'The Times of London! But The Sunday Times was nonetheless content to share the dubious 'glory' when Deer won an award for his Sunday Times articles!!

'Dr Goldacre is contributor rather than a member of staff and so his work appears in publications and on sites that are unconnected to the Guardian and for which we can have no responsibility.'

I think the time is past for 'two way bets'- unless they are about horses!!

Jenny Allan


Today the UK Daily Mail greeted us all with this headline about a proposed new vaccine:-
'JAB TO REVERSE ALZHEIMERS'. This immediately brought to my mind the business deal between UCL 'Pharma Star' Prof Pepys and GSK to develop UCL's research findings:-
http://uclb.com/ucl-professor-mark-pepys-hailed-as-an-academic-superstar-by-glaxosmithklineucl-professor-mark-pepys-hailed-as-an-academic-superstar-by-glaxosmithkline

"Professor Pepys started up the UCL-spin out Pentraxin Therapeutics, which is developing a treatment for a rare form of amyloidosis.
Pentraxin Therapeutics Ltd is a company spun out of UCL by UCL Business (UCLB). Formed in 2001, it holds all the intellectual property and proprietary knowledge emanating from the research of Professor Mark Pepys at UCL. Major IP within Pentraxin covers treatments for amyloidosis and amyloid-related diseases such as Alzheimer's disease."

But NO!!!

It seems that the UCL has been 'trumped' and will not be getting 'Jackpots of money' from their research into Alzheimers. (I could not resist repeating this nasty Deer comment, made at Johns Hopkins, concerning the Royal Free Hospital's, now part of UCL, original proposals to develop Wakefield's research discoveries. Deer implied that Dr Wakefield was expecting to PERSONALLY benefit financially from this, when in fact the patent was in the name of the Royal Free.)

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-1379749/Alzheimers-vaccine-reverse-damage-available-years.html#ixzz1KLcyiDIJ
'Dr Simon Ridley, head of research at Alzheimer’s Research UK, said the vaccine could be a significant breakthrough if further trials show it not only clears brain deposits but also prevents dementia.
Dr David Wilkinson, from Southampton University’s Memory Assessment and Research Centre, was involved in some of the earliest research into Alzheimer’s vaccines in the 1990s.
He said: ‘Hopefully the vaccine will make a big difference to Alzheimer’s treatment. If it can clear amyloid plaques from the brain and we can give it very early in the disease process, it may prevent some of the damage.’
A treatment capable of dramatically slowing the condition’s progress could also have huge financial benefits, with experts estimating that half of the £17billion spent on Alzheimer’s in Britain each year could be saved if patients developed the disease five years later than they do now.

The three drug firms behind the vaccine, Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson and Elan Corporation, are expected to seek marketing approval when testing is completed towards the end of next year.'
TOO BAD Pepys and GSK!!

John Stone

PS When Goldacre unveiled his new position on Deer in January I finally had a communication from the Guardian regarding his pronouncements in Irish Health from Chris Elliott 'reader's editor':

"the Editor has asked me to deal with your query. Dr Goldacre is contributor rather than a member of staff and so his work appears in publications and on sites that are unconnected to the Guardian and for which we can have no responsibility. However Dr Goldacre has addressed the points you raise in a post on an article by Brian Deer on the Guardian's site. I have sought and gained his permission to send it on to you because I think it is a really clear and helpful exposition of his views since the Wakefield affair began:"

There then followed the text of Goldacre's comment on Deer's blog which you have quoted. When I pressed Elliott on the Irish Health statement he came back with the single sentence


"Dear Mr Stone,
As I explained Irish Health is not within my remit.


Best wishes


Chris Elliott"

Loads of integrity there!

John Stone

Jenny

I think perhaps the medical establishment had a two way bet with Deer and Goldacre. Goldacre's original 'Don't dumb me down' article in which he gave his view that the Lancet paper was bona fide received the 2005 ABSW award which had Evan Harris on the panel of judges.

http://www.ageofautism.com/2010/08/whats-behind-ben-goldacre-.html

So, if the GMC hadn't brought in their verdict supporting Deer the back-up would have Goldacre's flimsy bundle of epidemiological studies which he has continuously refused to answer questions about.

Now they have the problem that the GMC's findings were substantially flawed and John Walker-Smith's appeal is still pending.

John

Jenny Allan

Further to John's references to Ben Goldacre, and AussieMum's query about Leo Blair, This comment can be found in John's link to 'Irish Health':-
Niall Hunter 'Sorting the Wheat from the Chaff' 22 Novenber 2010, http://www.irishhealth.com/article.html?id=18246

"In Ireland recently for the annual conference of the Network of Establishing GPs in Athlone, Dr Goldacre pointed out to the meeting that while Wakefield’s study was published in 1998, the vaccine scares only really accelerated around 2001-2 when then Prime Minister Tony Blair refused to confirm whether his infant son would be getting the MMR vaccine."

It seems the medicals, politicals and phamaceuticals have all along blamed the wrong person for the UK dip in MMR vaccination rates!! How about a campaign to accuse Tony Blair of murdering people, by putting parents off vaccinations!!

Still On the Goldacre theme, Brian Deer is very critical of both Offit and Goldacre in his notorious Guardian blog, 'The medical establishment shielded Andrew Wakefield from fraud claims'
http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/blog/2011/jan/12/andrew-wakefield-fraud-mmr-autism
On Offit:-
'I wasn't surprised. From his establishment vantage-point, this was the third time Dr Offit had popped up to opine on the issue. Twice previously he'd been quoted as saying that my findings were "irrelevant" (although he'd been happy enough to use them in his books). Science had spoken, his argument went. There was no link between the vaccine and autism. It was experts like him who should rule on this matter, he seemed to imply, not some oik reporter nailing the guilty men.'
(Offit will be 'licking his wounds' over his over reliance on Deer's published nonsense for his book 'Deadly Choices' which has had to be pulped in the UK!!)

On Goldacre:-
'Actually, I would like to speak in defence of Andrew Wakefield," said Guardian Bad Science columnist Dr Ben Goldacre in a BMJ video, long after I first skewered the man's research but before Wakefield was struck off by the GMC. "I'm not sure it was necessarily a bad piece of research."
(Goldacre's sickeningly sycophantic reply can be found at number 6 of nearly 300 comments after the Guardian article.)
'I’ve been unswervingly supportive of Brian Deer’s work, linked to it, written about it, and promoted it at every opportunity, including now (there has been almost total media silence in the UK on his current revelations), and I’ll continue do so.'

They must be paying Goldacre a lot of money for this 'grovelling' stuff!!

Cherry Sperlin Misra

John Stone and others, Keep up the pressure on Mr. Deer. He is an unstable personality and possibly delusional. Under pressure he would probably dig his own grave with his behavior and statements and alienate others to attack him as well.

Gatogorra

Thank you, John. I come away from reading reports on what the BMJ has done in collusion with Deer shaking my head. They are a mafia-- and really just as stupid in the end. Clever, cagey, smarmy, yes, but completely moronic. Every single one of them will go down in history as an embarassment.

I suppose the Skeptic ties among vaccine defenders reassure them that they won't burn in hell for eternity for what they've committed. Being an agnostic myself, hysterical atheism in association with corporate corruption stikes me as the wishful thinking of the fearfully superstitious. You do good on earth because it's a better way to live, so that you don't lose part of yourself and your rational faculties by having to wear blinders against the suffering you contribute to.

As for the common assumption that some would clean up their acts if they were personally impacted by autism. But if they don't care about children in general or other people's children, they're clearly missing a certain facultry and are unlikely to care much about their own if stricken and made "defective". Once personally impacted, some will hold up their children as human shields and marketing tools for their new career as vaccine defenders. Goebbel's final victims were five of his own children. It really makes little difference.

John Stone

With regard to Blairs it was also credibly rumoured (but never directly reported) that they had an autistic relative (perhaps one of Cherie's nephews or nieces). But they are not alone because the previous Prime Minister, Sir John Major, has an autistic grandson, and Samantha Cameron's step father Lord Astor (who is member of the present government) has an autistic daughter.

This is why the theory that "when it happens to them something will be done" is a fallacy: it already has and they do nothing, year after year.

Jenny Allan


AussieMum
http://briandeer.com/mmr/lancet-blair.htm
Here's what Deer Brian reported over the Leo Blair 'Did He or Didn't He' controversy.
I note that Liam Donaldson, UK Chief Medical Health Officer stated that MMR vaccine had saved the lives of MILLIONS of children!! I wonder where he got those stats from? Thorsen?? ....another individual who counts in millions....of dollars that is!!
On the few-the very few- occasions where Dr Wakefield was invited to speak in the UK, the skeletons of the TWO dead UK children, alleged to have died from measles, are dragged up as if Dr Wakefield personally murdered them himself!! I have often wondered whether these children's lives might have been saved if Dr Wakefield's measles virus ameliorating discovery had been developed. Instead, Professor Pepys who acted quickly to get rid of Dr Wakefield in 2001, seems to have lost no time in setting up an alternative 'deal' with GSK to develop some cure for some obscure disease of the elderly:-
http://uclb.com/ucl-professor-mark-pepys-hailed-as-an-academic-superstar-by-glaxosmithklineucl-professor-mark-pepys-hailed-as-an-academic-superstar-by-glaxosmithkline

"Professor Pepys started up the UCL-spin out Pentraxin Therapeutics, which is developing a treatment for a rare form of amyloidosis.
Professor Pepys said: “It’s a wonderful idea and we are delighted to be working with GSK to develop new medicines for patients.”
GSK aims to work closely with leading external medical researchers until the launch of a new drug. This will allow GSK to tap their expertise while providing them with facilities, funding and incentives to be paid if a treatment proves successful."

Note the GSK funding is dependent on UCL 'success'. I feel an FOI request coming on!! I would be interested in their financial statements!!

Oh-Sorry AussieMum!! Tony Blair has NEVER let on about little Leo's vaccinations, but the unofficial view in the UK is that LEO got SINGLE Measles Mumps and Rubella jabs!! There is autism in Cherie's family.

John Stone

AussieMum

The week after Deer's original "coup" which was endorsed was politically endorsed next day by Blair himself and Chief Medical Officer Sir Liam Donaldson

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/ministers-temper-their-triumphalism-but-delight-spreads-at-whitehall-571091.html

the Sunday Times put out a story from sources close to the Blairs that Leo had had the vaccine. They had not confirmed this directly as a matter principle. Since the story didn't come from the Blairs themselves it was never critical whether it was true or not. It was just gossip which no one needs to credit.

I was told by someone in the investigatory business a few years ago that Leo may have received one of the single jabs on a holiday visit to France (presumably not all three in one go).

AussieMum

Australia

Question: Did Tony Blair (UK Prime Minister) ever allow his fourth child- Leo - born 20th May 2000 his MMR Vaccine?

According to Wikipedia, "Tony Blair has refused to confirm whether Leo has received his MMR vaccine after the controversial issue."

If the MMR vaccine is so safe, (as is echoed by many "so-called" experts & Brian Deer around the world), then why not admit that your child has been immunised and they suffered from no severe adverse reactions and we are all "crazy mums" who report otherwise.

So did Tony Blair ever immunise his son? Perhaps Brian Deer could investigate for us!

Mum to 9yr old, Pervasive Developmental Disorder, Global Development Delay, Autistic Disorder, Non-Verbal & Vaccine Injured son.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leo_Blair


John Stone

Jenny

That sounds fairly classic. We ought to bear in mind that Godlee and Marcovitch are previous chairs of COPE

http://www.publicationethics.org/about/history

and that the present chair of COPE is Liz Wager who sits on the BMJ ethics committee with Godlee and Jane Smith (another signatory of the "Wakefield fraud" editorial).

http://resources.bmj.com/bmj/about-bmj/advisory-panels/ethics-committee/committee-members

Wager is a pharmaceutical industry publications consultant who includes on her 'recent customer' list GlaxoSmithKline and BMJ Publications:

http://www.lizwager.com/

She is co-author with Godllee (and Tom Jefferson!) of a book 'How to survive peer review'

http://resources.bmj.com/bmj/pdfs/wager.pdf

Some years ago I had an extraordinary exchange with her when it turned out that she was advisor as "Liz Wagner" on a paper which recommended European Medical Writer Assoc guidelines on ghost writing co-authored by herself.

http://www.bmj.com/content/334/7586/208/reply

Do you have this general sense of being in free fall, down, down, down...

John

Jenny Allan

Anyone else thinking of complaining to COPE about the UNETHICAL behaviour of BMJ Editors Godlee and Marcovitch, might be interested in this reply from them, setting out their terms of reference.
"Dear Brian
Thank you for your clarification. However, unfortunately, based on this we would be unable to take your complaint any further at this stage. COPE's remit is to support editors and publishers with managing publication misconduct in their journals. If a journal becomes a members of COPE then, as part of their membership, they agree to abide by the COPE Code of Conduct (linked to here; however, please note that the code of conduct also includes the more aspirational best practice guidelines which journals are NOT required to abide by. http://www.publicationethics.org/resources/code-conduct).

You can bring a complaint against a member journal if it can be shown that they have not abided by the Code of Conduct but, constitutionally, we are unable to investigate individual cases nor are we able to investigate editorial decision-making as it is the editor who has the final decision on what is, or isn't, published in their journal."

Jenny Allan

The following is extracted from my husband's complaint to the BMJ. He has never even received so much as an acknowledgement from the BMJ's complaint department. He is presently attempting to progress the complaint via COPE and the PCC. COPE has NO proper system for processing complaints, not even a postal address, and seems to be nothing more than a nice cosy cartel set up to PROTECT their 'members'. NON members, i.e members of the PUBLIC-NOT welcome!! Godlee and Marcovitch have both served on COPE's committee. If this is supposed to be a publishing ethics 'watchdog'. God help us!!

"The following are Fiona Godlee’s responses to the above questions and my comments (in blue italics:-)
(From Age of Autism 6-02-11: http://www.ageofautism.com/2011/02/fiona-godlee-of-bmj-responds-to-wakefield-questions.htm

FG ‘Thank you for your emails. The BMJ stands by the article by Brian Deer and the linked editorial published on 5 January.[1] [2] The article, which was subjected to peer review and editorial checking, was based on enquiries carried out over some seven years, involving, among other things, interviews with parents of children enrolled in Andrew Wakefield's research. Four such parents are quoted in the article.’

BA Brian Deer claims to have interviewed parents of four of the Lancet 12 children. At least two UK parents have subsequently complained that Mr Deer used assumed names and false reasons in order to trick them into allowing themselves to be interviewed by him. In view of the fact that the MMR vaccine was introduced to the UK in 1988, the Wakefield et al Lancet article was written in 1998, and Mr Deer’s Sunday Times article was published in 2004, a total of sixteen years, it would hardly be surprising if some parents’ recollection of events might have been less than ‘sharp’.(Mr Deer only provides one interview date during year 2003). Mr Deer also appears to have been determined beforehand to find ‘discrepancies’ in parental accounts, These interviews are NOT evidence of ‘fraud’ on the part of the Royal Free Research staff, particularly since Dr Wakefield was employed as a research scientist, NOT a clinician and was NOT directly involved with Royal Free Hospital patient care or treatments. Hearsay is NOT acceptable evidence in any UK court of law.

FG “As made clear in the article, the core data on which the findings were based were evidenced, except in the case of one child, by the transcript of a General Medical Council fitness to practise hearing which sat between July 2007 and May 2010.”

BA Dr Godlee is saying here that Mr Deer based his BMJ allegations of fraud against Dr Wakefield and his co authors on transcripts of the 3 year GMC case against Dr Wakefield and his co accused Profs Walker Smith and Murch. These transcripts will have become available AFTER the verdicts announced in July 2010. The GMC trial evidence included BOTH Royal Free Hospital and GP casenotes for each child

FG “In your questions, you suggest that Andrew Wakefield did not have access to GP records and therefore could not be responsible for discrepancies between those records and what was published in the Lancet in February 1998.The case we presented against Andrew Wakefield that the 1998 Lancet paper was intended to mislead is not critically reliant on GP records. It is primarily based on Royal Free hospital records, including histories taken by clinicians, and letters and other documents received at the Royal Free from GPs and consultants.”

BA Fiona Godlee is NOW IMPLYING that Brian Deer's BMJ article ONLY used the Royal Free casenotes, which included the childrens' referral letters from GPs but CRITICALLY, did not include the minutiae of the childrens' previous visits to their GPs for other medical reasons.
Mr Deer, who is NOT medically qualified, makes his own 'diagnosis' of pre MMR autism in child 1, taken to a GP at age 9 months. Mr Deer cites the child's 'apparent' deafness as being indicative of autism, but omits to mention the child had an ear discharge at the time. (Paediatrician Dr Ed Yazbak calls this ‘prurient Otitis media’, a common cause of deafness in children. Dr Yazbak also states that ‘apparent’ deafness, on its own, would not indicate autism in a child; there would always be other indications.)
This information can ONLY have come from the GP's records NOT the Royal Free child’s casenotes. Does Ms Godlee regard this kind of selective pseudo medical reporting as a true an accurate account in the BMJ, and yet use it as evidence of 'fraudulent record keeping' on the part of Dr Wakefield?
There's NO WAY that Dr Wakefield OR his colleagues had this information in 1998, the date of the Lancet article.
Ms Godlee CANNOT have this all ways. If she accepts that Dr Wakefield and his colleagues at the Royal Free did NOT have access to the GP's records in 1998, then she MUST accept that it is Mr Deer who is giving a 'fraudulent' account here.

FG “We draw attention to the finding of the fitness to practise panel, on which we are entitled to rely, that "the project reported in the Lancet paper was established with the purpose to investigate a postulated new syndrome and yet the Lancet paper did not describe this fact at all. Because you [Wakefield] drafted and wrote the final version of the paper, and omitted correct information about the purpose of the study or the patient population, the panel is satisfied that your conduct was irresponsible and dishonest."

BA Irresponsible and dishonest behaviour, (which Dr Wakefield continues to deny), is NOT the same as fraudulent behaviour. Fiona Godlee appears to be suggesting criminality in some form here. This is an outrageous assertion. If Ms Godlee was convinced of unlawful activity on the part of Dr Wakefield, then surely her duty should have been to inform the police in the first instance?

FG “Contrary to other suggestions contained in your emails, we made no allegation of dishonesty against Andrew Wakefield's co-authors, or indeed against anybody else.”

BA I’m sorry to say that Ms Godlee is being less than truthful when she states that no allegations of dishonesty were made against anyone else in these articles. There were numerous insinuations against a plethora of other personnel, mostly carefully worded to avoid any libel litigation. The following comments are from her editorial:-
‘ ……..how his institution, the Royal Free Hospital and Medical School in London, supported him (Wakefield)as he sought to exploit the ensuing MMR scare for financial gain.’
‘and how key players failed to investigate thoroughly in the public interest when Deer first raised his concerns.’
I draw your attention to a Brian Deer Guardian blog published 12th January 2011, shortly after the first of three BMJ articles on the theme ‘Secrets of the MMR scare’. I accept that the BMJ is not responsible for anything published by the Guardian, but this ‘blog’ exposes Brian Deer’s biased and malicious attitude to all doctors and scientists (below):-
http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/blog/2011/jan/12/andrew-wakefield-fraud-mmr-autism
Brian Deer ‘The medical establishment shielded Andrew Wakefield from fraud claims’
Deer employs a colourful ‘turn of phrase’. He appears to be referring to his style of journalism as ‘media muck raking’. Do the BMJ Editors concur with Deer’s apparent assessment of his BMJ’s articles’ content? If so, do they regard this as appropriate for a respected medical and scientific publication?

FG “As the GMC panel heard, it was Andrew Wakefield who wrote the Lancet paper, using data which he anonymised, with little oversight by other authors. We confirm that under the uniform requirements for manuscripts submitted to biomedical journals all authors should be in a position to speak to data, but the evidence is that in this case they were not. We are aware of recent claims made by Andrew Wakefield that "new documents have come to light" purportedly confirming his claims in the Lancet. The material he cites was presented to the GMC panel two and a half years ago.”

BA The following Natural News report is about the documents referred to by Fiona Godlee, (above) which fully support Dr Wakefield’s version of events.
http://www.naturalnews.com/031116_Dr_Andrew_Wakefield_British_Medical_Journal.html
“Newly-revealed documents show that on December 20th, 1996, a meeting of The Inflammatory Bowel Disease Study Group based at the Royal Free Hospital Medical School featured a presentation by Professor Walker-Smith on seven of the children who would later become part of the group of patients Dr Wakefield wrote about in his 1998 The Lancet paper (which was later retracted by The Lancet).

Remember, Dr Wakefield has been accused of completely fabricating his findings about these same children in his 1998 paper, but these documents reveal that fourteen months before Dr Wakefield's paper was published, two other researchers -- Professor Walker-Smith and Dr Amar Dhillon -- independently documented the same problems in these children, including symptoms of autism.

Thus, Dr Wakefield could not have "fabricated" these findings as alleged by the British Medical Journal, which now finds itself in the position of needing to issue a retraction, or it must now expand its accusations of fraud to include Professor Walker-Smith and Dr Dhillon... essentially, the BMJ must now insist that a "conspiracy of fraud" existed among at least these three researchers, and possibly more, in order to back up its allegation that Dr Wakefield's study results were fabricated.”

FG “Andrew Wakefield was last year erased from the medical register and he has chosen (unkind remark, most court cases depend on funding not choice) not to appeal that decision. As indicated, the very many charges proven against him include dishonesty in his research. We are unaware of any peer reviewed paper replicating Andrew Wakefield's research or confirming his claims to have identified a new syndrome of regressive autism and inflammatory bowel disease associated with MMR vaccination.”
FG “With respect to gastrointestinal issues, we draw attention to an authoritative consensus statement published last year by experienced specialists in this field [3] and particularly to statement 4: "The existence of a gastrointestinal disturbance specific to persons with ASDs (eg “autistic enterocolitis”) has not been established."
With best wishes,
Fiona Godlee,
Editor in Chief, BMJ

BA Ms. Godlee reports, "We are unaware of any peer reviewed paper replicating Andrew Wakefield's research"....Yet there is:
A number of subsequent studies have replicated and extended the findings of Wakefield et al as reported in the Lancet 1998. A list of these was enclosed with my complaint and is reproduced at the end of this letter. Of course, there have also been epidemiological and other research undertakings which claim to have found the exact opposite. Many of these were paid for by pharmaceutical interests and Government health departments.* Indeed the BMA and Lancet Journals are largely funded by pharmaceutical interests including the makers of the MMR vaccine and are hardly impartial.** What IS an unassailable FACT is that autism has now reached epidemic proportions. In the UK the official figures are now 1 child in 64. In male children this is 1 in 38. This CANNOT be explained by genetics or better diagnoses but MUST be environmental. Dr Wakefield simply advocated a return to single measles, mumps and rubella vaccines, until more research was carried out. He NEVER claimed a proven link between MMR and autism.
I respectfully contend that BMJ Editors Godlee, Malcovitch and Smith have made a serious misjudgement by publishing these two articles, both in terms of the content and the suitability of ‘commissioning’ a medically unqualified journalist Brian Deer, to write a series of three articles on the theme of ‘Secrets of the MMR Scare’.
I expect my complaint to be responded to personally and in line with the BMJ’s published complaint handling procedures.
Brian Allan

* ** This was written and sent BEFORE the Thorsen indictment for fraud and Fiona Godlee's published 'correction' admitting the BMJ funding from MMR manufacturers Merck and GSK.


Jenny Allan

Further to John's comments regarding the ethical approval 162-95, granted to Professor Walker Smith. Parental permission was sought for 2 EXTRA biopsies. This extract is from the following consent form given to all parents of children colonoscopies at the Royal Free Hospital. The form is a standard form, issued 'To parents' This is what it says:-

'Your child has been referred for diagnostic colonoscopy and/or endoscopy. Several small pieces of tissue (biopsies) are taken during the procedure for diagnostic purposes. Clinic inflammatory bowel diseases are still little understood and their cause is unknown. It is therefore of great value for laboratory research to have such biopsies available to study how inflammation in the bowel develops and is influenced by treatment. Your permission is asked to agree for two extra biopsies to be taken for these purposes.

Whether or not you agree to this will in no way influence your assessment or treatment.
(My daughter agreed to this and signed the form; the date was March 1999, AFTER the Lancet article. )

The form is headed with the names:- Professor Walker-Smith (Head of Dept), Dr Simon Murch and Dr Alan Phillips (Sen Lecturers) and Dr Mike Thomson (consultant)

Dr Wakefield's name DOES NOT APPEAR on this form.

I know that Prof Walker Smith is appealing the GMC decision and I think this form exonerates him from any suggestion that children were recruited purely to feed research and subjected to unnecessary tests and procedures.

The form also makes it clear that NO conclusions had been reached in 1999 about the CAUSES of bowel disease in children and that the research was very much, still ongoing,(until a certain Professor Pepys got rid of Dr Wakefield and then systematically dismantled the Royal Free children's specialist clinic, leaving my grandson and a large number of other sick children in a treatment 'limbo'.) As John Stone attempted to tell the GMC, the 1998 Lancet paper was just an early stage clinical study.

My grandson is STILL receiving treatment for his bowel disorder and he is still autistic. Neither Brian Deer nor the GMC have had access to any of my grandson's medical casenotes.

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