John Stone wrote this post in February of 2012. We are running it today to give readers some background on the unethical journalism practices vis a vis science and particularly the topic of pediatric vaccination.
By John Stone
Martin Moore (left), the unresponsive boss of the organisation ostensibly set up to support members of the public who have fallen victim of the unethical journalistic practices of the Murdoch media empire in the UK (See Age of Autism "Write to Hacked Off.." HERE), sat on a panel set up by the UK’s Department for Business to plan the future of science journalism in Britain producing a report ‘Science and the Media: Securing a Future’. Moore has repeatedly refused to be drawn on a catalogue of apparent abuses in Deer’s MMR investigation, including Deer’s assertion that a Sunday Times news editor, Paul Nuki (right), had hired him to find “something big” on “MMR” (which sounds suspiciously like a fishing expedition). It now turns out that Nuki and Moore sat on the same government committee in 2009-10 to determine the future of British science journalism under the chairmanship of Fiona Fox. Fox, the head of Science Media Centre, has also recently given evidence regarding the MMR to Leveson Inquiry on ethics in British journalism.
Meanwhile, Moore’s organisation Hacked Off effectively sits as unofficial guard dog to the government appointed Leveson Inquiry, which has now heard a succession of witnesses including Fox condemn as irresponsible earlier media concerns about the safety of MMR, but has so far failed to hear witness statements based any of the submissions about Deer’s investigation.
To date Moore and Hacked Off have ignored documented concerns that:-
- Deer was hired by the Sunday Times (and Nuki) to conduct a fishing expedition over MMR
- Deer used a false identity in the course of the investigation
- Deer accessed without consent confidential medical records and legal documents
- Deer had a secret arrangement with the General Medical Council that he not be named as complainant against Andrew Wakefield and colleagues, enabling him to continue reporting despite his interest in the outcome of the hearing
- Hacked Off advisor, Liberal-Democrat politician Dr Evan Harris, collaborated closely with Deer on his investigation
- Deer’s allegations were given fresh impetus in 2009 with the appointment of Sunday Times proprietor James Murdoch to the board of MMR manufacturer GSK
All this raises the issue of whether media standards are really the agenda of Hacked Off and its parent organisation, Media Standards Trust, or rather controlling on behalf of government and industry which media attacks on citizens get public attention and which do not. Moore and Media Standards Trust have collaborated with Fiona Fox’s Science Media Centre over a number of years, including over Fox’s cover up of autism figures in 2007 (Autism: the 64 billion dollar a year question for Simon Baron-Cohen, Ben Goldacre, Fiona Fox and Autism Speaks UK, The false scare about autism and the MMR jab, Data and News Sourcing Workshops) Science Media Centre are heavily funded by industry, including the three MMR manufacturers involved in the UK litigation: Media Standard Trust are funded by bio-industry orientated foundations including Gatsby and Nuffield, as well as by the Pearson and Scott foundations which are connected to the Financial Times and the Guardian newspaper. Even more troubling is the fact that the UK’s Department for Business thinks that it is its job to control the reporting of science in the media and hands the job over to the industry press officer.
Presently, the lead non-executive board member of the Department of Business is the recently knighted Sir Andrew Witty, CEO of GlaxoSmithKline.
John Stone is UK Editor for Age of Autism.