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Dr. Wakefield Sues Brian Deer and BMJ's Fiona Godlee

Dr. Andrew Wakefield suit headshotBy  Ian Sample of The Guardian UK.

Andrew Wakefield, the doctor who was struck off the medical register after triggering a health scare linking autism to the MMR vaccine, is suing the editor-in-chief of the British Medical Journal for defamation.

In a complaint filed to a district court in Texas, lawyers acting for Wakefield claim that articles, editorials and other statements that appeared in the BMJ were "false and make defamatory allegations" about the doctor.

The lawsuit names Fiona Godlee, the BMJ's editor-in-chief, and the British investigative journalist Brian Deer, who has covered the controversy over the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine, which led to a drop in MMR vaccination rates to dangerous levels.

Documents filed with the court say the action arises in part from the publication in January 2011 of an article by Deer in the BMJ titled "Secrets of the MMR scare: how the case against the MMR vaccine was fixed" and an accompanying editorial by Godlee.

It is alleged that the articles accuse Wakefield "of fraud and of fraudulently and intentionally manipulating and falsifying data and diagnoses". The case has been filed in Austin, Texas, where Wakefield now lives, because the allegations concern his work there.

In a statement, the BMJ and Deer said they awaited formal service of the papers, but stood by the articles and had instructed lawyers to defend the claim vigorously.   Read the full article at The Guardian UK.

Comments

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And it should be pointed out that substituting "Anthea" for "Andrea" can't merely be a typing mistake. "D" and "t" are typed with different fingers; "r" and "h" are typed with different hands.

No, it looks like whoever composed the footnotes either thought there were two Dr. Barrows or didn't care whether there were or not.

I thought there might be a possibility, albeit remote, that these were two different Dr. Barrows so I checked. It took me a couple of minutes to nail down that the two footnotes were supposed to cite the same Dr. Barrow. That's called "fact-checking."

The fact that in the footnotes to Deer's BMJ article Dr. Barrow is variously referred to as "Andrea" and "Anthea" indicates to me that nobody actually fact-checked Deer's article (or if they did, they did an extremely poor job). The different spellings are obvious at a glance because the footnotes are either adjacent or very close to each other.

Where other than the footnotes would you start your fact-checking?

Such an easy mistake to correct, it would never have survived multiple rigorous fact checks. It wouldn't even have survived one.

Casey O

Yes, many readers will be unaware of the archaism by which medical doctors with surgical qualifications are titled "Mr" in the UK. It goes back to period when Mr was quite a title.

http://www.rcseng.ac.uk/patient_information/faqs/surgeons.html

This is not important in the scheme of things- but I HATE how they refer to Dr. Wakefield as "Mr.". I know I know... technicality... That just pisses me off to no end.

But I know it will all come out in the wash. Yeah DOCTOR Wakefield!!!!

@ Jenny Allan: Thanks!
@ Isabella: help with what?

Help with equipment, facilities and services has also been received from: The Guardian, Institute of Physics, Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain, Understanding Animal Research, Royal Society of Edinburgh, University of Glasgow, Vitae North West Hub and Vitae South West Hub

http://www.senseaboutscience.org/pages/funding.html

Interesting that the Guardian newspaper gives help to sense about sciences. I wonder what services they gave them?

Isabella

There are so many people who are supportive of you and your family. I am so glad you have decided to do this. I do believe one day you will be hailed a hero, although I doubt that is what you had expected when you began your journey.
My prayers and thoughts are with you, as I'm sure many more (parents of Autistic children) are.

To ottoschnaut
Professor Walker-Smith's UK High Court case is an appeal against the 2010 GMC verdict which removed his licence to practise medicine, along with Dr Wakefield's. The third 'defendant' Professor Murch was cleared of all GMC charges. Prof Walker-Smith's case is due to be heard next month, (February 2012).

You will not hear very much discussion because this case is presently sub-judice, although Fiona Godlee's recent allegations about 'institutional misconduct' by Dr Wakefield's colleagues were 'thinly veiled' attempts to pre-judge Professor Walker-Smith's case. Fortunately, neither the UK Science and Technology Parliamentary select committee, nor the UK Higher Education Research funding authority were prepared to involve themselves with Godlee's spurious allegations and demands.

I seem to remember a Deer comment, suggesting that if Dr. Wakefield feels he's been slandered, libeled, or defamed "why doesn't he file a law suit?" I suspect he, Godlee, and BMJ never expected he would. Very glad it's taking place in the U.S.--we already saw his 'court' proceedings in the U.K...which might explain the absence of press on this issue.

Can anyone shed light on Prof. Walker-Smith's libel suit in UK? Is the suit in process, has it passed a judge without being thrown out?

Perhaps Dr. Wakefield's timing here has to do with statue of limitations issues, and perhaps also a pinschers attack on the UK medical establishment- Wakefield on one flank, Walker-Smith on the other. Interesting that the blogs are not discussing Walker Smith.

Big hoopla over libel being harder to prove in US. Good. If the suit gets past preliminary hearing, there will indeed be some very nervous folks on the BMJ side.

In the UK, with the exception of the verbatim Guardian report,(above), there seems to have been a virtual press and media 'blackout' about Dr Wakefield's litigation case against the British Medical Journal, Brian Deer and Editor Fiona Godlee. This is particularly difficult to understand in the light of the entire Plaintiff's case being available on the internet, via the Texan Courts information services.

Today I scoured the 'Mail on Sunday' looking for something, ANYTHING, to do with the Wakefield case, but instead I found this very chilling essay called 'Secret Justice', which is about some very sinister initiatives by a UK Government which apparently aims to stifle present UK citizens' rights to obtain justice via the UK courts:-

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2083768/Secret-justice-How-Cameron-Clegg-vowed-hand-liberties-instead-planning-illiberal-changes-justice-system.html

The following is extracted from the article:-

"Greater secrecy in court would have a further by-product: the stifling of investigative journalism, for which information revealed through the legal process is often critically important.
‘Many of the biggest recent scandals were exposed through a combination of journalism and litigation,’ says Shami Chakrabarti, director of Liberty. ‘These proposals would bring the shutters down for ever.’
The key points, set out late last year in a Green Paper on Justice and Security, include a sweeping power to allow Ministers to withhold evidence they deem ‘sensitive’ from any civil open court hearing or inquest, if the Minister thinks disclosure would cause ‘damage to the public interest’."

This proposed legislation would enable the UK Government to withhold evidence from the courts on the spurious and unchallengable grounds of 'public interest'.

It is very obvious that even at the present time our UK government has a tight 'stranglehold' on our UK popular press and media outlets, a stranglehold which is being ever tightened. It's not so much an attack on 'free speech' as a concerted effort to prevent UK citizens from accessing information about ANYTHING the government does not want them to know, therefore denying us the right to make value judgements, complain or even instigate litigation proceedngs against perceived government or corporate corruption or wrongdoing.

At the same time, in the UK we are constantly bombarded with political and corporate inspired propaganda.

Whatever happened to democracy!! Dr Wakefield is very wise to make his case in a court in Texas.

In this video Deer leaks a lot of information concerning his terrorist campaign on Wakefield. He directly indicates his attack on Andrew was entirely premeditated with the intention of blowing up Wakefield's funding for Autism research.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kT7AsXcCeYA&list=UUT-Rm57f2eVXYngzPqvBu9g&index=3&feature=plcp

In essence, Deer is just a anti-litigation specialist, a highway man hired to plant one on Andrew Wakefield and to terrorize the medical research profession.

Some links of interest:

http://www.lexisnexis.com/en-us/Home.page - Push-button anti-litigation software by Reed Elsevier, the owners of several medical trade rags including Lancet. An interesting combination of tastes, ya think?

https://wikispooks.com/wiki/British_Council - The British Council is the British government's cultural propaganda body. Think subversive. Think British Council.

You do understand that Brian Deer didn't just happen by accident, do ya?

Andrew is as close to independent Autism research as you can get. Autism Speaks and their research partners are as far away from independent as you can get.

Eventually, Andrew Wakefield can easily prove that Deer and the BMJ are part of a much much bigger combination. Research is business. Certainly, the malice, as one calls it, does make Andrew quite an 'injured person' relative to Sherman Anti-Trust.

This is an excerpt from the introductory letter Father 11 wrote to Wakefield on January 1, 1997:

"My son [name deleted] at age 15 months, was immunized with the Merck MMR vaccine and became ill for the next several months....As his pediatric records indicate he came down with a viral infection, and shortly thereafter viral pneumonia. His condition slowly deteriorated over time, and was diagnosed as being autistic on his birthday at age 3. The onset of his autistic behavior began around 18 months. ....He was diagnosed as moderate to severe, with no speech, no eye contact, and cognitive function at 6 months overall.”

So that's pretty clear: MMR at 15 months, after which sick for months, slow deterioration, autistic behavior noted at 18 months.


Now here's an excerpt from Child 11's discharge summary, courtesy of Brian Deer:

"His developmental milestones were normal until 13 months of age....In the period 13-18 months he developed slow speech patterns and repetitive hand movements. Over this period his parents remarked on his slow gradual deterioration.”


As Father 11's letter makes plain, the "slow deterioration" noted by the parents can only be from 15-18 months, not 13-18, and thus the discharge summary is in error.

Gems from Brian Deer's Guardian blog 12-01-11 Please activate the link to read the rest, since this blog reveals a great deal about the psyche of Brian Deer himself, his innate conceit and obvious hatred of all doctors and scientists. Surprisingly there is also an expressed wish for the 'demise' of the BMJ and Lancet medical journals. "Let battle commence" says Deer. It just has!!:-
http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/blog/2011/jan/12/andrew-wakefield-fraud-mmr-autism?INTCMP=ILCNETTXT3487

"Just hours ago," announced CNN's Anderson Cooper from New York last Wednesday, "the British Medical Journal – BMJ – did something extremely rare for a scientific journal. It accused a researcher, Andrew Wakefield, of outright fraud."

"So, what's my point? I think these comments reveal a striking pattern: doctors default to defending other doctors. In fact, until recently there was a GMC regulation that banned them from bad-mouthing colleagues.
But in the specifics of their stance there seemed the idea that scholarly debate, epidemiology and suchlike, should arbitrate. Truth would emerge from the "scientific method", not from "we can reveal" media muck-raking."

"Next week in the BMJ, I will go further, showing how the old boys' network of the medical establishment was mobilised to protect him. Are you getting the picture yet?"
But times are changing. Wakefield's fall from grace is now slicing another scalp. One of the most insidious cartels at the heart of British science is being torn apart: the two top journals in medical science."

"The Lancet once championed him. The BMJ has now nailed him – and commended my contribution. "It has taken the diligent scepticism of one man, standing outside medicine and science, to show that the paper was in fact an elaborate fraud," they wrote in last week's editorial."

"Let battle commence, I say. Let doctors expose each other. Let journals compete to get the truth out first. Because 13 years passed before I slayed the MMR monster. And although a single, severed hand may yet come crawling across the floor, for science and public safety 13 years is still too long."

Thanks very much Aussie Mum. This was an interesting article. I note the Wakefield v BMJ Godlee and Deer transcript quotes the Hague Convention.

(Extracted from the Australian article supplied by Elizabeth):-

"It is thought to be the first such decision in the high court of any country to consider the question of jurisdiction and the internet. Media organisations fear the ruling could unleash a flood of litigation around the world and will force them to review the content of their internet sites.
It will certainly be re-established that the net is no different than a regular newspaper, that you have to be careful what you write and if you offend somebody or write malicious statements about people... then you can be subject to being prosecuted."

Dr Andrew Wakefield, I realise what a big step this is for you to make, Sir & I support you with all my heart. I have written to Godlee & told her in all sincerity, that one day I hope to see her & Deer behind bars for the harm they have perpetrated & continue to perpetrate against children.

You are a man of integrity & compassion & I thank you for having the courage to stand against this wicked machine.

You have helped countless children & parents by your actions.

I will see you reinstated as a practising Doctor one day or I will sees the end of allopathic medicine.

Men such as you are rare & special & to be cherished.

Truth is the new black.

It has a power of it's own & it is gaining more power everyday as people wake up to the lies.

Love & respect from our family to yours my friend.

Mark, Nicky, Amy & Jack
UK

Jenny Allan,

See below a link from Australia and how defamation cases can be heard in different countries-

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/2560683.stm

Elizabeth Gillespie


Martin Hewitt

http://www.ageofautism.com/2010/04/how-the-gmc-framed-doctors-wakefield-walkersmith-and-murch-.html

Martin Walker “Pond Life” luv it…

http://briandeer.com/mmr/mli-information.htm


Great start to the New Year ..Baby Murdoch to fall along with Big Daddy Murdoch ..Looking goood!!!


Angus

This is a ray of hope for us all.

@For Carol,

You said, "And you note Deer claims to have read the Kessick legal case. Now how did he do that?"


Well, I guess Deer will be asked that. Can he claim that Mrs. Kessick showed it to him?

Wakefield's attorney should ask for the tapes of Deer's six-hour conversation with Mrs. Kessick. Deer says that they exist and that he's got them.

And you note Deer claims to have read the Kessick legal case. Now how did he do that?

At one point Brian Deer posted this on leftbrainrightbrain:

"Even in 2003, my investigation was very time consuming. I hadn’t then looked into Ms Kessick and I didn’t then know that talking to her amounted to talking to Wakefield. The pair of them were in it together. However, I did get from her a detailed account of what she said happened to her son (which broadly squares with her case in litigation), and it was at total variance with what was recorded in the Lancet."

Now think about that. Deer is saying that Wakefield and Kessick were conspiring together. Deer's contention is that the Lancet paper was in part manufactured to bolster Kessick's lawsuit on behalf of her son. But then Deer goes on to say that the child's history in her lawsuit is "at total variance" with his history in the Lancet paper. How insane is that? You'd expect the two sets of facts to be similar if they are merely telling the truth, but also, most surely, if they were conspiring together.

It's the illogic that gives Deer's game away. In the case of Child 11, Deer states (correctly) that Father 11 attributed his child's regression to MMR. Yet Deer in the same piece states that Child 11's symptoms occurred before MMR, basing this on a typo on the Royal Free discharge summary. You or I would have shot off an email saying, "Hey, Mr. 11, that doesn't make sense." The fact that Deer didn't shows malice on his part. The malice is further confirmed by Deer's long failure to correct the record.

I wish for the best of all outcomes for Dr. Wakefield in this suit. It would be great to be able to view the testimonies online.

Patricia,

For one thing, if you look at Wakefield's petition (http://www.courthousenews.com/2012/01/04/BritMedJ.pdf), you'll see that Deer's distortion of the facts of Child 11's case are specifically cited. Child 11 was not included in the GMC hearing so Deer, the only "journalist" who knew Child 11's identity, was able to play fast and loose with the facts. (By that I mean faster and looser than usual.) In fact, Deer starts off his BMJ article with Child 11.

Dan Olmsted did track down Father 11 and talked to him at length: http://www.ageofautism.com/2011/11/an-elaborate-fraud-series-part-7-in-which-the-bmjs-prime-example-of-wakefields-alleged-misconduct-pr.html

I don't know how Deer, Godlee and the BMJ will defend themselves against Deer's obvious prevarications and the BMJ's failure to do rudimentary fact checking or error correcting, but you might check the usual flying monkey blogs for a preview.

Thank goodness, a real Texas court rather than the CDC Vaccine Court...

However, could Dr. Thoresen and Dr. Nancy serve as a character witness for Brian Deer??? Their testimony could go on for days and days. The Murdoch family might also show up for the defense.

Dr. Nancy could also talk about the "MMR science or indicted doctors from Denmark" which would be most informative...

I do still have a coupe of questions. As the case is to be heard before a jury is there a legal expert in US law out there who could tell us whether this presumably hand picked jury will of necessity include medical experts or will they just put up a jury of lay people? How will they proceed in this matter?
I also have concerns regarding Andrew´s undoubtedly already damaged reputation, both personal and professional. How will his attorny´s be likely to deal with this issue?

According to 1 Boring Old Man, an interesting trial is starting next week in Austin. I'm sure it won't be covered by the media so it would be great if someone could sit in on it. Failing that, we can read about it here: http://1boringoldman.com/

I believe this is the petition: http://www.psychsearch.net/documents/tmap/texascomplaint.pdf

It's regarding a swindle by various drug companies. No surprise there. Allen Jones explains it: http://psychrights.org/Drugs/AllenJonesTMAPJanuary20.pdf

The flap about the Royal Free performing invasive procedures on autistic children has always struck me as absurd. By the time you get to specialists like Wakefield and his colleagues, you've been through all the quacks who have done nothing and discovered nothing. You want the specialists to figure something out, not hand you another band-aid.

Yeeee hawwwww ... hang 'em high ... and bury 'em deep ... in Texas!

There can be little doubt about the diagnosis: Brian Deer is an 'ugly little charlatan' ... and if he were to be given an enema, he could be buried in a matchbox. Godlee too. Bring out your matchboxes ...

God bless America ... and the lone star, Christopher Hitchens ... who died last year in Houston.

Mark Blaxill says:-
"The stakes are high and the counter attack will be ruthless. Be prepared and be proud that we are all fighting together."

My guess is that the BMJ, (and their lawyers and pharma backers) will initially throw their huge resources into an attempt to stop this case being heard in a US court at all. They will argue that the BMJ is a UK based publication and that Dr Wakefield should take his case to a UK court.

This is a quite ridiculous assertion in view of the fact that the BMJ is now a worldwide internet subscibed publication and that both Brian Deer and BMJ Editor-in-chief Fiona Godlee accepted invitations to deliver anti Wakefield, pro MMR vaccine lectures in the US, based on Deer's BMJ articles. Some of the content of these lectures would NOT have been acceptable in the UK and in Deer's case might even have contravened UK criminal laws. Only Godlee's US lecture was filmed and trascripted for the public. Both Deer and Godlee have been very careful about speaking publicly in the UK on these issues. The notorious BBC Radio 4 'Science Betrayed' programme was one exception, but it was broadcast during an April 2011 evening, to a very small audience and attracted almost no press comment. This will come back to 'haunt' the BBC.

The BMJ Deer article 'How the case against the MMR vaccine was fixed', 5-01-11, mentioned in Wakefield's litigation case, was given almost NIL media and press coverage in the UK. The Telegraph reported it verbatim and Murdoch's Sun had a double page vitriolic spread which was very quickly pulled on the internet edition. Deer was given a now notorious 'Guardian blog' space to voice his disappointment with the press coverage and vent his rage against all doctors and scientists including, Ben Goldacre and Paul Offit!! The latter had his pro-vaccine book 'Deadly Choices' pulped in the UK after he stupidly used Deer material for sources!! The Guardian several times kept changing the url to stop myself and others from ridiculing this blog on internet comments!

The reaction in the UK to Deer's article was in contrast to the huge publicity in the UK. The CNN Anderson Cooper biased interview was appalling!! This resulted in a US public outcry which included demands for Wakefield to be jailed for 'Fraud' and even sent to the electric chair for 'killing' children!!

In the US the carefully engineered public perception of Dr Wakefield has him as a clinician, treating child patients and subjecting them to unnecessary dangerous invasive treatments. In fact he was employed as a Research scientist at the Royal Free Hospital and had NO clinical contact with child patients at all. Professor Walker Smith and Professor Simon Murch were the two clinician colleagues dragged before the GMC with Dr Wakefield. Prof Murch was cleared. Prof Walker-Smith's appeal against the verdict goes to the High Court next month.The GMC is NOT the professional body to discipline research scientists. In order to 'get' Wakefield, these two excellent clinicians had to be implicated too. They were ONLY doing their jobs. Godlee is plainly panicking about Prof W-S's appeal; that's what all her recent fuss about UCL 'institutional misconduct' by Dr Wakefield's colleagues is REALLY about. She cannot mention them by NAME in the UK because that could result in a 'contempt of court' charge for sub judice prejudicial comments.
The BMJ comment about this case being dismissed by the UK courts is ridiculous. Dr Wakefield is now resident in Texas and has a perfect right to instigate proceedings there against a publication which is just as available in Texas as it is anywhere where internet access is possible.

How can we help? Well this is down to you US folks to make a great big fuss about all the US misinformation peddled by both Deer and Godlee and their pharma sponsored media presenters like that Anderson Cooper interview.

Go America!!

Thank you Dr. Wakefield. Best wishes to you and your family in this endeavor!

The BMJ article hurt more than Dr. Wakefield. It hurt efforts to recover and protect our children and hurt the progress vaccine safety research and practice. I'm sure the importance of the truth is the driving reason behind the suit for Dr. Wakefield and may he be vindicated!

Is everyone aware that Brian Deer's address appears on the Petition? Take a look on Google Maps!

Having your address exposed to the world couldn't be worse than having your child's medical records on display!

Brian my be getting "a taste of his own medicine."

Elizabeth Gillespie

I bet Fiona Godlee, Brian Deer, and the BMJ get their story straight and very quickly now, it will be interesting to see them turn on one another. They will fall apart in a real court, in front of a jury, I bet it will be Brian Deer that will unravel the quickest, no more one sided questions from Anderson Cooper, time to spill the beans.Like the theme song goes for Walker Texas Ranger, "When you're in Texas look behind you" and in their case, that's where the law is going to be.

http://www.medpagetoday.com/InfectiousDisease/Vaccines/30522

Article not sympathetic to Andy....

so far comments, mostly from docs are 19 for and 17 against.

To me that is tremendous progress!!!!!

I know that BMJ will pile lawyers on top of lawyers for this case, but I wonder where they got the balls to say this - from the article:

[In a statement, the BMJ said: "The BMJ is on notice that Andrew Wakefield has issued defamation proceedings, not in London as might be ordinarily expected as concerns a predominately English publication, but in Texas, USA, where he now lives.

"Following the findings of the British General Medical Council's Fitness to Practice Panel and Mr Wakefield's history of pursuing unfounded litigation, any action brought against the BMJ and Mr Deer in London would have been immediately vulnerable to being struck out as an abuse of process."]

It seems not only arrogant but careless to discount the laws of the State of Texas. The reason the lawsuit is filed in Austin Texas is because that is where the defamation has taken place, as clearly stated in the lawsuit. Their surprise that it is filed in Texas, "...not in London as might be ordinarily expected..." shows the depth of their ill conceived denial. I suggest they brush up on "Texas Justice" and not come into this thinking they have some superiority or advantage simply because they are a self described "predominate English publication".

Consider the comment "...any action brought against the BMJ and Mr Deer in London would have been immediately vulnerable to being struck out as an abuse of process." To me this smacks as a direct accusation that the legal process in the United States is somehow gullible, that our judges lack the legal competence to determine for themselves whether or not that Dr. Wakefield has a case that should be heard in front of a jury of his peers. HIS AMERICAN PEERS.

As for the "abuse of process", I think that the British Medical Journal has already shown the world who is the best at that.

I wish Doctor Andrew Wakefield all the best - I owe him a debt of gratitude beyond anything I will ever be able to repay.

Best of luck, Dr. Wakefield. You must win this case and be vindicated. The truth must win.

I was so happy to read this news. Finally, Dr. Wakefield will have his day in a non-kangaroo court.

Thank you to Dr. Andrew Wakefield for his continual pursuit of truth. Much support, strength and gratitude to you and your family.

Dr. Wakefield, I am proud to be a scientist because of people like you.
The truth will prevail. May we all have the courage to do our part in this fight!

Absolutely fantastic news! Long overdue. Best of luck to the Wakefields.
We're with you 1000%.

Well said Mark!

John

It's deeply important that all of us in the autism parent community appreciate the importance of this event and band together in support of Andy. The stakes are high and the counter attack will be ruthless. Be prepared and be proud that we are all fighting together.

That is quite some venom in the response from the BMJ, do they even pretend to be a professional journal anymore?

Here in the UK, getting sued is like a battle scar for a journalist. They brag about it!

GOOD!

Usual shrivelled devious stuff from Guardian and BMJ. Of course, they don't want it to be heard in Texas.

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