By John Stone
One of my memories of the UK’s Leveson Inquiry, the hearings of which could be viewed on the web, was of the good lord grumbling that people kept on trying to raise issues which had nothing to do with his remit. The inquiry, it will be recalled, was sparked the excesses particularly of Murdoch group newspapers, and involved horrific intrusions into the lives of ordinary people, and political cronyism. It is unclear why Leveson chose to ignore the plight of one set of ordinary families whose lives were invaded by a particular journalist, and who were in a legal battle to get compensation for children damaged by MMR vaccine, although it transpired that Leveson and his lead attorney, Robert Jay, had both taken part in MMR litigation hearings, the substance of which remain secret. Nor is it clear why he chose to hear the evidence of Fiona Fox, of Science Media Centre, which is funded by MMR vaccine manufacturers and has not been the victim of vile invasive journalism. You might think that that had nothing to do with his remit.
The events that led up to the hearing, the trashing of ordinary lives, the political cronyism that extended into the Prime Minister’s household, were the ostensible reasons for the inquiry, not the huge vested interest within industry and the state that would be damaged if the trashing of selected ordinary people was not allowed to continue. Before the inquiry did anyone here the cry of misery from GSK, Merck and Sanofi, Dr David Salisbury or the Medicines and Health Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA)? Was this why it was convened? And yet in the person of Fox and Tony Blair’s public relation’s guru, Alistair Campbell, they had their place at the table – God forbid anyone should be allowed to question the safety of their products, and woe-betide anyone who succeeds! Let nothing interfere in such instances with media lynch party. Tally ho!
I am at a loss that Lord Leveson should
have chosen not to hear our concerns, and I hope and pray that he makes no
recommendations about the future reporting of “scientific” issues – perhaps
using the BBC’s fatuous Jones report (institutionalised bullying of the worst
sort) as a precedent (here and here ) – but I have almost given up hope.
John Stone is UK Editor of Age of Autism.