The exoneration of John Walker-Smith – a great and good man - is the best news our community has had for years. For years Prof Walker-Smith, himself, has stayed well clear of the MMR controversy but the truth is that he was drawn with Prof Simon Murch into politically motivated allegations against Andrew Wakefield by journalist Brian Deer and Liberal-Democrat politician Evan Harris under the auspices of the Sunday Times.
Deer, himself, recollected in the British Medical Journal being approached by Sunday Times section editor Paul Nuki to find something “big” on MMR, and was later to come to an exotic arrangement with the General Medical Lawyers not to be named as the complainant against the three doctors while continuing to report on the matter. Nuki was apparently the son of a doctor who sat on Committee on Safety in Medicines when MMR was introduced, and he was eventually to leave the Sunday Times to run the UK National Health Service’s main website, NHS Choices. It was the misconstruction of events by Deer, Harris and the GMC which has led to years of purgatory for not only Walker-Smith, Wakefield and Murch but for thousands of children denied proper medical investigation and treatment as a result of the witch-hunt. It is worth noting that the UK Leveson Inquiry, set up to look into media abuse and particular the affairs of News International has so far refused to look in to any of these matters.
Meanwhile, the BBC in an act of doublethink of which only it could be capable has pronounced the 1998 Lancet paper still “discredited” on the day that along with Prof John Walker-Smith it has been completely exonerated.
There is no doubt that the lies and hypocrisy will continue, and of course now it is not only the Murdoch owned media that is implicated. But it is a huge victory.
John Stone is UK Editor for Age of Autism.