By John Stone
Adding to the tangle of undisclosed conflicts in the BBC’s radio documentary ‘Science Betrayed’ in March, which re-cycled the allegations of Brian Deer and the British Medical Journal against Andrew Wakefield, it appears that one of the producers of the show, Alexandra Feachem, is the daughter of a leading professional beneficiary of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Sir Richard Feacham. Sir Richard in a letter to BMJ in 2009 - in which he argued for public private partnerships in global health – disclosed the following relationship HERE
“RF leads the Global Health Group, an action tank at the University of California San Francisco, supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and ExxonMobil. The Global Health Group is in part dedicated to the understanding and development of the role of the private sector in health systems strengthening.”
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has a high profile role in the promotion of the global vaccine industry and schedule. In an interview in February Mr Gates told Sanjay Gupta of CNN (HERE ):
“Well, Dr. Wakefield has been shown to use absolutely fraudulent data. He had a financial interest in some lawsuits. He created a fake paper. The journal allowed it to run.”
This is in line with the allegations of the programme and the BMJ but well exceed the findings of the General Medical Council against Andrew Wakefield and colleagues, which remain under appeal before the High Court by Prof John Walker-Smith. The BBC’s rules on disclosure state (HERE ):
"It is important that the personal, commercial, business, financial and other outside interests of BBC staff do not compromise their BBC role. The onus is on the journalist, content producer or on-air talent to let the BBC know if they (or in certain circumstances their family or close personal contacts) have any outside interests which could be perceived as a conflict of interest."
It is evident that if Ms Feachem divulged this conflict to her employers, neither she nor they thought to tell listeners.
As reported in Age of Autism previously, the programme failed to disclose conflicts of other contributers:
- Prof Mark Pepys and University College London, who are in business partnership MMR manufacturers (and former defendants GlaxoSmithKline) (HERE ).
-Dr Fiona Godlee and BMJ, who are in business partnership with MMR manufacturer (and former defefendants) Merck, through its information division Univadis, and who are sponsored by both Merck and GSK in their annual awards (HERE ).
-Brian Deer, himself, who had a confidential arrangement with the GMC prosecutors not to name him as complainant against Wakefield and colleagues enabling him to continue reporting on the story as an independent journalist (HERE ).
As extensively reported in Age of Autism and Child Health Safety (HERE ) the allegations against Wakefield of fraud were without foundation: the 12 co-authors of the Lancet paper have never dissociated themselves from data in the paper, which was not drawn from the GP notes raked over by Deer (HERE ). Nor have any of Deer’s interpretations of data from the GMC transcripts proved to be well-founded (HERE and HERE ).