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« Part 1: Vaccines and Autism - What Do Epidemiological Studies Really Tell Us? | Main | IACC Autism Meeting Tuesday 7/19 »

An Elaborate Fraud, Part 1: In Which a Murdoch Reporter Deceives the Mother of a Severely Autistic Child

  Blanket Lancet
One of the Lancet 12 children on a doctor visit not long after the BMJ articles were published in January.

By Dan Olmsted

On January 5, 2011, the British Medical Journal accused Dr. Andrew Wakefield of committing “an elaborate fraud” in the controversial 1998 Lancet report about 12 children who developed bowel disease and regressed after receiving the MMR shot. The cover article by journalist Brian Deer focused on “the bogus data behind claims that launched a worldwide scare over the measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine.”

Deer identified and interviewed parents of some of the children in the anonymous Lancet case series, describing what he said were significant disparities. “I traveled to the family home, 80 miles northeast of London, to hear about child 2 from his mother,” Deer wrote of one interview. The child had severe autism and gut problems that she blamed on the MMR.

What Deer did not say in the BMJ article is that he had lied to the mother about his identity, claiming to be someone named “Brian Lawrence” (his middle name). Deer had written a number of critical articles about parents’ claims of vaccine injury, and if he gave his real name, he doubtless feared, Child 2’s mother would not agree to talk to him. Once she checked his blog, she would be more likely to kick him out of the family home than sit still for what turned into a six-hour inquisition.

He even created a fake e-mail address for his fake identity, and he used it to communicate with her: lawrence_b_st@yahoo.com.

Why did the highly respected British Medical Journal sanction such deceit involving the mother of a child who, whatever the cause, was severely disabled? When the interview took place in November 2003, more than seven years before the BMJ article, Deer was not working for the journal. He was on assignment for The Sunday Times of London.

The Sunday Times is owned by Rupert Murdoch, part of the News International division that has come under a Watergate-size cloud in England for its newsgathering tactics – fraudulently obtaining confidential information, bribing police, hacking 9,000 phone numbers, gaining access to bank accounts, and using large financial settlements to keep some victims quiet.

The BMJ article, titled “How the Case Against the MMR Vaccine Was Fixed,” has its roots in the Sunday Times. It is remarkably similar to one Deer wrote for the Sunday Times two years earlier, in February 2009. That article was titled MMR Doctor Andrew Wakefield Fixed Data on Autism and it cited much the same data and mentioned many of the same people featured in the BMJ article.

The BMJ imprimatur gave Deer – as well as the British Medical Association, which publishes the journal -- a “peer-reviewed” platform from which the story was broadcast far and wide, as conclusive proof of fraud. The BMJ dressed up its presentation with footnotes, charts, editorials, commentary and what it called “editorial checking.”

But clearly, the crux of the article came from reporting Deer did while affiliated with the Sunday Times. Along with evidence presented at a General Medical Council hearing, Deer wrote in the Sunday Times, he relied on “unprecedented access to medical records, a mass of confidential documents and cooperation from parents during an investigation by this newspaper.” His work, he said, exposed the “selective reporting and changes to findings that allowed a link between MMR and autism to be asserted.”

Deer did not identify Child 2 or his mother in either the Sunday Times or the BMJ – he didn’t need to. He had posted their names on his blog (subsequently removed); what’s more, the names were known because the mother had spoken out on the researchers’ behalf and was a claimant in a failed legal case over the vaccine. (Deer has said any allegation he “placed confidential information on my website” is false.)

False pretenses and confidentiality aside, the BMJ’s ethics code bars the use of anyone’s medical information without written permission -- even when the subject is anonymous.

“Any article that contains personal medical information about an identifiable living individual requires the patient’s explicit consent before we can publish it,” according to the policy (italics in original).  “We will need the patient to sign our consent form which requires the patient to have read the article.”

If she had done so, the journal would have gotten an earful about  “Brian Lawrence,” Brian Deer and her subsequent dealings with the Sunday Times. That is the subject of our next article.

--

Dan Olmsted is Editor of Age of Autism, and co-author, with Mark Blaxill, of The Age of Autism – Mercury, Medicine, and a Man-Made Epidemic, to be published in paperback in September by Thomas Dunne Books. 

Comments

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Yeah, I'm not saying that Wakefield considered all the evidence and then plumped in favor of 13 months. I think he was probably unaware of an inconsistency and assumed Dr. Casson was correct. This is the kind of innocent error people make who have nothing to hide, the kind who aren't scheming about lawsuits, the kind who have more important things to think about, like healing children.

if it weren't for Wakefield what would all have

...The main story surrounds Wakefield ..why do all the Governments try to put him down if he weren't such a threat they don't ignore him ..they dig him up...

Dr Wakefield is right always has been and always will be right! sofar as my child is concerned ...

Angus

Justice Mitting writes in his decision that Child 2 was born on 7-29-88 and received his MMR on 11-8-89. Thus Child 2 was MMR'ed 15 months and 10 days after birth. But the Lancet paper reports Child 2 getting his MMR at 13 months and in _Callous Disregard_, Dr. Wakefield mentions 13-month MMR. But 15 months, a la Justice Mitting, is probably correct. The problem, it seems to me, is that Dr. Casson's notes say 13 months and Wakefield accepts that number even though, given that Child 2's allergist says the boy started tantruming at age 16 months, 15 months works a lot better for the MMR/autism hypothesis.

Deer, unaware that it's actually an indication of Wakefield's innocence, makes fun of Wakefield's persistent error about the date of Child 2's MMR. But if you think about it, were Wakefield confabulating to defraud, he'd have the age at the tips of his fingers and he'd be extra scrupulous about those hard-and-fast dates. Any inconsistencies, after all, would be noticed by pharma lawyers the way a drop of blood is noticed in a shark tank. And how about the law firm allegedly paying for this fraud? Wouldn't they scrutinize the paper for errors to make sure they were getting their money's worth? They'd want everything to be shipshape. But it looks like they didn't get to preview it.

This "15 becomes 13" mistake also occurs in Casson's discharge summary of Child 11's case. I don't know if Dr. Casson was given the wrong information by parents or if his 5's look like 3's, but in both cases, the erroneous "13" works against the MMR/autism hypothesis so neither error can be deliberate.

Monday 25 Jul 2011 Channel 4 (29 days left) How Murdoch Ran Britain(48 mins)
http://www.channel4.com/programmes/dispatches/4od#3215759

Medical Ethics - Editors and Journalists

In these times where privacy and confidentiality are at the forethought of each one of us it is would be an opportune time to revisit the ethics of Patient Confidentiality in regards to medicine and the publication of such material in newspapers and even medical journals.

I tend to agree with Lorene Amet that the focus should first be on a battle that can be won - Parent and patient rights over 'politics' in medicine ...

That the BMJ editorial staff chose politics over patient confidentiality seems to be very clear, unless they can come up with a substantial and robust defence of why they ignored very pragmatic advise from the very organisation it founded and validated.

Ethics at the BMJ Fiona Godlee, editor
http://www.bmj.com/content/334/7590/0.1.full?sid=8634dc44-a0aa-493d-bc7b-31ca170c4a9a

“Editors should be responsible for everything published in their journals” Committee on Publication Ethics

“The BMJ stands by the article and the editorial.” Fiona Godlee BMJ Editor

“Competing interests: FG is editor in chief of the BMJ and responsible for all it contains.”

One of the BMJ's assets is its ethics committee. The committee meets every three months to provide the editor with broad ethical guidance and consider ethical dilemmas arising from articles submitted to and commissioned by the journal.

Also of note

www.publicationethics.org/files/u2/New_Code.pdf

What is confidential?

All identifiable patient information, whether written, computerised, visually or audio recorded or simply held in the memory of health professionals, is subject to the duty of confidentiality.


***Held in the memory of Health Professionals

Please note this statement -


British Medical Journal Guidelines.

Confidentiality

It covers:

1 any clinical information about an individual’s diagnosis or treatment

2 a picture, photograph, video, audiotape or other images of the patient

3 who the patient’s doctor is and what clinics patients attend and when

4 anything else that may be used to identify patients directly or indirectly so that any of the information above, combined with the patient’s name or address or full postcode or the patient’s date of birth, can identify them.

For the purposes of medical journals one should appreciate points 1 and 3.

Further

Whilst demographic information such as name and address are not legally confidential, it is often given in the expectation of confidentiality.

Health professionals should therefore usually seek patient consent prior to sharing this information with third parties.

*** Has the Sunday Times, The British Medical Journal a or even the GMC itself obtained that consent from each patient , parent or guardian as the case may be.

Using and disclosing information

1. explicit consent should be sought for the use or disclosure of personal health information, unless it is clearly implied

2. occasionally, when it is not practicable to obtain consent, information may be disclosed where the law requires or where there is an overriding public interest, eg where child abuse is suspected


Sharing information with other health professionals

Information sharing in this context is acceptable to the extent that health professionals
share what is necessary and relevant for patient care on a ‘need to know’ basis.

***Are the Sunday Times and the British Medical Journal on a need to know basis ?

Professional standards

All health care professionals must maintain the standards of confidentiality laid down by their professional body, such as the GMC, or risk complaint for professional misconduct. This may result in a warning, restriction of practice or removal from the register.

This would include British Medical Journal medical professionals and even the GMC itself as this information was able to be accessed by the general public.

Research

New GMC guidance advises that doctors can now disclose identifiable information without consent for research purposes if it is in the public interest.

*** Note Doctors not journalists or journal editors

Further

The GMC guidance states that doctors can disclose identifiable information without consent for research purposes in the public interest if:

• it is necessary to use identifiable information; or
• it is not practicable to anonymise the information and, in either case not practicable
to seek consent.

Not practicable to seek consent.

The GMC advises that a number of factors must be taken in to account in any consideration as to whether the research justifies a breach of
confidentiality in the public interest:

• the nature of the information must be considered
• the use that will be made of it
• how many people will have access to it
• the security arrangements to protect further
disclosure
• the advice of an independent expert advisor, such
as a Caldicott Guardian, should be sought
• the potential for harm or distress to patients.

Contacts

British Medical Association
Medical Ethics Department, BMA House,
Tavistock Square, London WC1H 9JP.
Tel: 020 7383 6286
Fax: 020 7383 6233
Web: www.bma.org.uk/ethics

Ethics and Confidentiality Committee
National Information Governance Board Office
Floor 7, New Kings Beam House,
22 Upper Ground, London SE1 9BW
Tel: 020 7633 7052
Web: www.nigb.nhs.uk/ecc

General Medical Council
Regents Place, 350 Euston Road,
London, NW1 3JN.
Tel: 020 7189 5404
Fax: 020 7189 5401
Web: www.gmc-uk.org

The editor of the BMJ needs to be slow roasted in front of a parliamentary select committee about what she knew about journalistic corruption. Excellent article, Dan.

I would focus the article on the breech of trust of vulnerable families, falsification of identity and unethical/illegal interview processing conducted by Brain Deer working for Rupert Murdoch at this stage, and I would not keep bringing on the the wider MMR/ Wakefield picture because this is a dead end for now. I don't think any newspaper would be willing to explore this story unless fresh information can be brought in, which is not the case, everyone is tired of this, even the supporters. For now, it is better to establish in mainstream media that other journalistic practice should be looked at. The Guardian has been very good in initiating the Watergate and this additional information should also be brought to their attention.

Jenna, I have been very busy posting on Murdoch stories...

here a sample:


Murdochs media empire and extended drug-bank-media spider web of which he is part has hurt many innocent people. Murdoch et al are linked to the autism crisis that is ruining the lives of so many children. The Times of London lied like hell about Dr. Andrew Wakefield. The hired pit bull reporter Brian Deer and orchestrated a media compaign against him.

They destroyed Dr. Wakefields reputation b/c he stumbled upon something big and incriminating in his research that was extremely threatening to the corrupt establishment of which Murdoch and son James are part of. James Murdoch sits on the board of Glaxo Smith Kline. Wakefields demise was a warning to others.

The Murdochs have strong ties to drug companies. These companies are corporate predators preying on the health of every man, woman and child. The $$$ they off making us sick make helps feed their machine. There is no end to their greed.

To learn more search: "Murdoch and Vaccines - Exposure of Murdoch's Crimes Open Up A Much Larger Story"


Committee on Publication Ethics

Case number:
07-13
Anonymised text of the case:

A manuscript was submitted from UK authors. The study was a case series of infants with a particular condition. A table in the manuscript contains descriptive data which are critically important for the readers with respect to understanding the risk of this condition in young infants and the likelihood of abuse.

The question is whether this table violates the law with respect to confidentiality/privacy. No IRB was obtained (case series/QI project). No consent was available from individual patients.

COPE’s advice would be appreciated.
Advice:

Similar to case 07-10, members of the Forum felt the same issues of confidentiality and public interest applied in this case.

Most were in agreement that consent would not be obtained, and as there was a chance that one or more infants could be identified from the data, the paper should not be published.

Some of the members of the Forum suggested that perhaps the paper could be presented as a multivariate statistical analysis, removing individual identifying data. If this is not possible, the Forum again advised that the editor should consider not only the ethical and legal consequences involved in deciding to publish, but also the data protection issues.
Follow up:

The paper was withdrawn.
Resolution:
Case Closed
Advice on follow up:
Year:
2007

---------------------------------------------

Unanswered Questions

1. Why did the BMJ publish without a clear ethical mandate ? Not only from parents / guardians / patients but against a clear recommendation from the very body that has been part and parcel of creating.

2. Why did the GMC publish this material ?

Contacts

British Medical Association
Medical Ethics Department, BMA House,
Tavistock Square, London WC1H 9JP.
Tel: 020 7383 6286
Fax: 020 7383 6233
Web: www.bma.org.uk/ethics

Ethics and Confidentiality Committee
National Information Governance Board Office
Floor 7, New Kings Beam House,
22 Upper Ground, London SE1 9BW
Tel: 020 7633 7052
Web: www.nigb.nhs.uk/ecc

General Medical Council
Regents Place, 350 Euston Road,
London, NW1 3JN.
Tel: 020 7189 5404
Fax: 020 7189 5401
Web: www.gmc-uk.org

http://healthimpactnews.com/2011/us-prosecutors-seek-extradition-of-mmrautism-denmark-study-author-for-1million-mmr-mercury-autism-research-fraud/

Reuters reports that US prosecutors have indicted and seek the extradition of Aarhus University, Denmark’s MMR/mercury & autism researcher Poul Thorsen 49, on 13 counts of wire fraud and nine counts of money laundering. This relates to monies paid to Thorsen by the US Centers for Disease Control including for research into the relationship between autism and exposure to vaccines. Thorsen used the stolen money to buy a home in Atlanta, a Harley Davidson motorcycle and two cars, prosecutors said.

Could everyone please go onto the MSM sites reporting on the Murdoch story and bring up the Andrew Wakefield link? This MUST be brought to the public's attention. Huffington Post is a good place to start.

So Deer lied in the BMJ and in the TIMES AND ON CNN?

What does this say about the journalistic standards at CNN? Did they check with a single parent about Deer's claims? Did they verify anything that Deer said? Scroll down to Anderson Cooper's interview.


On Jan 7, 2011, CNN reported on Andrew Wakefield with interviews with Brian Deer.

Brian Deer on CNN http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CzNDyjj3D1M

CNN said Wakefield's work was "unethical."

CNN said Brian Deer "really blew the lid off this story."

In his interview, Deer called Wakefield "a determined cheat."

On a clip of the interview with Anderson Cooper, Wakefield asked, "Who brought this man in, who is paying this man?" in reference to Deer.

Deer laughed and said that he was "an investigative journalist working for the TIMES since the early 1980s."

Deer also said it wasn't him saying it, it was the editors of the British Medical Journal.
He said the BMJ was peer reviewed and that they "individually checked the facts" that Deer had presented.

"It's not me saying. It's that editors of that journal."
"I was commissioned by the British Medical Journal to write the piece."

Going after Wakefield, said Deer, "was a routine journalistic assignment...on [Wakefield's] campaign of lies."

CNN referred to Wakefield's "study" -- not his paper in the Lancet.

Deer on CNN http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C_zzoM0Ukbs

"The facts have all been checked."

"I have done the work and my evidence has been thoroughly checked."

Deer then said he thinks criminal charges should be filed against Andrew Wakefield.


Deer on CNN http://ac360.blogs.cnn.com/2011/01/07/video-journalist-brian-deer-responds-to-dr-andrew-wakefield/

Deer said the BMJ checked his facts "exhaustively."

Anderson Cooper described Deer as "an independent journalist who's won many awards."

Cooper asked Deer if he was being paid by the Association of British Pharmaceutical Industries."

Deer said he was paid by the TIMES.

Deer said that none of Wakefield's medical records on his Lancet children were accurate.

Cooper asked Deer if he'd spoken to any of the parents, and Deer said, "I personally interviewed one, two, three families of the twelve. ...Two others were interviewed on my behalf by other journalists. ...And I had conversations with another, so quite a substantial number."

Cooper: "So you're basically saying he falsified or got wrong all the medical histories in one way or another."

Deer: "I showed the Lancet paper... to a father of child number 11, and he looked at the paper... and he said, 'that's not true.'"

Deer said Wakefield's work hadn't been replicated anywhere.

Cooper asked Deer what has angered him most about Wakefield.

Deer said that the real needs of kids with developmental disorders haven't been met. He said we need more research and better services.

Thanks, Dan. Could this finally be "the tipping point" that so many of us thought would have been reached oh so long ago? I wait with bated breath.

I just want to say a HUGE thank you for all of your tireless work to expose and discover truth, as well as ongoing efforts for justice on behalf of those who have been so wronged and injured. Your work and the voice you give to the often voiceless is always greatly appreciated, as is the ongoing work of your co-editors and contributors at AofA.

Are any legal remedies opening up for these children against the evil empire?

agreed with sarah.... I hope Andy is in their face now too. The connections are all coming out, and if he doesn't make a big stink about it now, it will get swept under the rug again.

Thanks, Dan. I don't think too much can be written about these events at this point. Looking forward to the rest of the series.

Just to record that in question and answer session this afternoon in the House of Commons the Home Secretary, Theresa May, confirmed in answer to a question from Bob Stewart, MP for Beckenham, that the hacking of emails and obtaining of medical records would fall within the remit of Leveson Inquiry. It is evidently recognised as not being critical that breaches of privacy should be restricted to phone hacking to be investigated. I hope this will set the mind of 'M O'Callaghan' to rest.

In my wildest dreams I could not make this stuff up.

Well I guess if we are talking about the same people who exploited the fact that a little boy had just been diagnosed w/ the terminal disease of CF- anything is possible. And that father was the prime minister!!!

What chance did the parents of autistic kids have regarding preventing the exploitation of their children's autism? None, I suppose.

It is wonderful that these crimes are now being exposed.

My question is did Murdochs people somehow hack into medical records stored in the hospital computers to get information on these children and provide that to Deer?

There are ways to tell if your computer has been hacked:

I found these links on cyber and phone hacking useful:

Has my home pc been hacked?

http://answers.google.com/answers/threadview/id/210159.html

How to report cyber hacking in the UK:

http://www.met.police.uk/pceu/index.htm

Apparently cell phone hacking is very easy with the right software:

Read: "Cell Phone Spying: Is Your Life Being Monitored?"

http://www.geeksaresexy.net/2008/05/05/cell-phone-spying-is-your-life-being-monitored/

It is time that the BMJ to RETRACT the Brian Deer article.

And we should demand that they do so.

Perhaps the Lancet parents' phones were tapped and bank accounts hacked along with so many others. Any way to find out?

I thought watching the crooks fall during Watergate was fun. This is hysterical. I heard the #2 in Scotland Yard resigned this morning. Who's next?

I hope the Brits are courageous enough to dig deep and fully expose the whole Wakefield crucifixion for what it was, total lies, and put Deer away for good.

If this mother hasn't done so already, she should report Deers deception to the authorities. Now is the time!

Murdoch and Vaccines - Exposure of Murdoch's Crimes Open Up A Much Larger Story

"But what has not yet been covered is the media circus Murdoch's London Times created internationally as it fabricated lies against a respected British doctor, with consequences that could impact the lives of billions of children in the world."

"To understand how serious all this is, and thus how much is at stake for millions if not billions of children, one need to appreciate how profound it is for mitochondria not to function normally."

http://www.salem-news.com/articles/july172011/murdoch-vaccines-wn.php


I've said it before and I'll say it again, as someone who worked for newspapers for more than 23 years, I am absolutely positive that Brian Deer has violated nearly every point of -- if not all of -- the Code of Ethics for the Society of Professional Journalists. I just want to know who paid him to do this. Not the small bucks he made for publishing a freelance article in the newspaper, but the Big Bucks that have kept him going for so many years with so little to show for it. Sure wish I could make a living for a decade or more on the same 1 or 2 articles...

Julie the dots are connecting and the establishment is falling Cameron the Prime Minister is fighting for his career...The head of the UK Police resigned

Its pouring with rain here but I am singing !!!another happy day!!!HAPPY DAYS...

Looking forward to the next article, Dan. You are the right person in the right place at the right time.

The first turning point for Deer was Margaret Best a mother who kind heartedly allowed him into her house and became a victim of Deer..

http://www.whale.to/vaccine/walker999.html


Martin Walker

It is worth taking just a sip of the Margaret Best article, and swilling it around the mouth before spitting it out; the bouquet has an interesting musty fullness of hackery. The essential statements of the article give a good idea of how a good journalist can cast doubt upon a legal ruling which has been six years36 in its distillation, with a vox pop article, unsupported by legal or scientific detail.

It's too bad that this part of the Murdoch empire scandal will be censored by the mainstream media. I wonder if any of the UK papers will connect the dots.

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