In trying to cover up the fact that he altered the original version of an article he authored for The Sunday Times, Brian Deer put the following claim beneath his article about Septrin, “The Pill That Killed,” hours after my article, Fresh Fraud: Brian Deer’s Vanishing Writing, went online:
[The length of this report varies slightly between Sunday Times print editions]
Yet the altered version on Brian Deer’s website is nowhere to be found in the Factiva intelligence engine, owned by Dow Jones, a subsidiary of NewsCorp, which also owns The Sunday Times – just the original article which quoted Margaret Best and said Wellcome’s “whooping cough vaccine damaged her son.” Even if Brian Deer’s bracketed claim was true, there is no explanation for him posting a scaled-down version of the article. Furthermore, why would he forbid me from going onto his website in the midst of my investigation if he had nothing to hide?
It’s bad enough that Brian Deer literally rewrote history, altering the 1994 article “The Pill That Killed” on his own website to remove any reference to vaccine injury. Yet we now discover that he also rewrote history in his 1998 defense of the whooping cough vaccine manufacturer, Wellcome, in “The Vanishing Victims.” In this article, he suddenly denied Margaret Best’s son was vaccine injured:
A drug company paid out more than £2.75m, plus costs, when an Irish court declared that Kenneth Best…was damaged by whooping cough vaccine. Brian Deer re-examined the evidence, including that of Kenneth's mother Margaret...and asks: what if the law got it wrong?
Deer then proceeds to chart what he considers the start of the controversial saga of the DTP vaccine, also known as the whooping cough vaccine:
On Friday, October 26, 1973, Dr John Wilson, paediatric neurologist, stepped to the front of the London lecture theatre of the Royal Society of Medicine…The topic of his contribution was brain damage caused by whooping cough, or pertussis, vaccination…To be honest, at the time I never paid attention to this saga's first 23 years.
Though he did acknowledge to have “casually commented” about a rare link between brain damage and the whooping cough vaccine in a 1988 Sunday Times article titled When Need Outweighs Blame, Brian Deer was anything but honest. He completely omitted that some 20 years after Dr. Wilson’s lecture, he wrote of Margaret Best that Wellcome’s “whooping cough vaccine damaged her son.” Deer even interviewed her for the “The Pill That Killed,” and yet pretends to have never met her four years later when writing The Vanishing Victims:
But then I got a phone call, from a woman in Ireland…
The caller was Margaret Best, a short, energetic, then 47-year-old Irish housewife, who had successfully sued a drug firm over her brain-damaged son, Kenneth Best.
You’d never know Brian Deer interviewed her before 1996 from reading The Vanishing Victims.
And possibly on the adage that my enemy's enemy is my friend, in November 1996 she invited me over to stay at her house near the city of Cork.
Of course, if Brian Deer had let on to his readers that Best knew him, trusted him and invited him to her house because he had been sympathetic to her plight years before, he’d expose himself as the betrayer he knew he was about to become.
Continuing to cover his tracks, Deer referenced the BBC documentary about her, writing about it as if he has only just heard of it for the first time. Yet as cited earlier, he wrote in 1994 of a woman who lost a daughter to Septrin, “In January, she studied a BBC documentary about Margaret Best.” Of course, the Septrin death is not mentioned anywhere in The Vanishing Victims; likening the DTP vaccine to a drug that Deer acknowledges to this day is dangerous would not further his present agenda.
As with his later defenses of MMR, the core arguments of The Vanishing Victims rely on dishonesty. In fact, it was widely known that Brian Deer assumed a false name when interviewing Rosemary Kessick - mother of an MMR-injured child reported in Dr. Andrew Wakefield’s Lancet paper - because Deer did not want her reading The Vanishing Victims and seeing he was the author.
It’s hardly surprising Deer did not use his real last name considering the fact that he would not have wanted Kessick to catch his past deceptions involving vaccine injury on his website and in his articles. To give a false name to cover-up a perceived bias is unethical enough, but to give a false name to also cover-up previous ethical violations and deception from one’s own interviewee is journalistically reprehensible.
Only time will tell how long this web of lies will continue to sustain itself, but a major explanation for continued mainstream acceptance of them are all the so-called “independent” sources that “vindicated” Deer’s writing: The Press Awards, The Lancet, The GMC Hearing, and The BMJ. Each has endorsed some of, if not all of Brian Deer’s smears.
But these sources don’t vindicate Brian Deer; they incriminate themselves by endorsing him.
Jake Crosby has Asperger Syndrome and is a contributing editor to Age of Autism. He is a 2011 graduate of Brandeis University with a BA in both History and Health: Science, Society and Policy. He currently attends The George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services where he is studying for an MPH in epidemiology.