On the ninth anniversary of the publication Brian Deer’s original allegations against Andrew Wakefield in the Sunday Times (22 February 2004) the journal Nature has been forced to remove derogatory and misleading comments from the web by Deer about whistleblowing scientist Dr David Lewis, which have stood since November 2011. Deer’s insinuations against Lewis were provoked by Lewis’s defence of the research integrity of Wakefield’s controversial paper ‘Ileal-lymphoid-nodular-hyperplasia, non-specific colitis and pervasive development disorder in children’ against the reformulated allegations of Brian Deer against Wakefield in BMJ in January 2011. While the British MedicalJournal refused to publish Lewis’s report except in a highly censored format, it commenced the unravelling of Deer’s account, first of all with the report of Eugenie Samuel Reich in Nature, and then in 2012 with the High Court exoneration of Wakefield's colleague Prof John Walker-Smith and the decision of University College London not to investigate the Wakefield affair further on the advice on the United Kingdom Research Integrity Office (UKRIO) .
The removal follows on a letter – shortly to be published on-line - from Dr Lewis’s attorney, F Edwin Hallman Jr, to British Medical Journal where a more elaborate version of Deer’s allegations appear. An earlier letter in a similar vein was written on behalf of Dr Lewis to by Stephen Kohn to La Crosse, University of Wisconsin, where Mr Deer was invited to give talks last October.
The question arises how much longer the British establishment can go on supporting Deer’s allegations? It is clear that they began to get cold feet before the General Medical Council hearing againstAndrew Wakefield and colleagues in 2005-6, taking their cue from an article Ben Goldacre in the Guardian newspaper, which was followed by editorials in the Independent, New Scientist, Spiked-online and BMJ calling for the prosecution to be called off , and that bad feeling has existed between Deer and Goldacre since . Now, what the present writer once dubbed “the Boseley problem” looms large:
“The almost unavoidable conclusion is that large sections of the British media have always known that the “Wakefield” prosecution was based on an imposture, and have been holding their silence in contempt of fair reporting and of the public at large, and that these people are much more concerned about their own backs than they are about our children”.