By John Stone
Following the exoneration of John Walker-Smith in the High Court in March I wrote to the Lancet’s editor, Richard Horton, pleading with him to re-instate the Wakefield 1998 paper in the interests of children in the UK being denied medical investigation and treatment following the witch-hunt against Wakefield and colleagues both in the Sunday Times, and latterly British Medical Journal. Horton replied lamely:
“Dear Mr Stone - I would be horrified if doctors did not take the symptoms of any child seriously. So I sincerely hope that a child with symptoms of autism would be examined and investigated with care and sensitivity.
“My Best, Richard Horton”
(Email, 15 March 2012, 10.07pm)
To which I fired back:
“That is why you should re-instate the paper. It has become ideologically taboo in this country to accept that there is a real problem. The GMC tried to make out that the cases were fabricated and that gastro symptoms were only superficial, and the judge decided that they only selected the evidence which suited them. But for years members of the medical profession have been terrified to follow in their footsteps, and really based on the words of Mr Deer, Evan Harris, Tony Blair and Liam Donaldson. Two of these people may have been doctors of a sort but none of them had the knowledge, the ethical probity or the kindness of John Walker-Smith.”
And answer came there none: Dr Horton may or may not be “horrified”, but so far he is not prepared to do anything about it. As Martin Hewitt pointed out here last week there is not now the faintest scientific or legal reason not to re-instate the paper. But unfortunately this not only a matter of historical fairness. As the case of Jon Edwards – highlighted in a new film from Autism Team – makes abundantly clear, until our political class and medical establishment address their bad consciences nothing for these children is going to happen in the United Kingdom.
This is the trailer for the film about Jon Edwards ‘Changing Lives’. That's Jon's Mum in the photo above holding up one of the adults sized nappies he wore until.... Watch the trailer.
John Stone is UK Editor for Age of Autism. Dr Horton's email address is email@example.com