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381 posts categorized "Dr. Andrew Wakefield"

Patterns In Chaos: Child Psychiatry, Violence and Autism

Wakefield2By Andrew J. Wakefield

Patterns in chaos: understanding acts of “senseless” violence (also available at The Academic Integrity Fund site.

At the Royal Free Hospital, London, in 1996 my gastroenterology colleagues and I were reliably informed by our attending child psychiatrist, that acts of extreme violence, such as the tragedy of Sandy Hook Elementary School, were perpetrated more commonly by those with Asperger’s syndrome (AS). Like so much that child psychiatry has had to offer - then and since - this assertion is misleading.

In support of his statement, the Royal Free’s child psychiatrist, Dr. Berelowitz, cited the example of Martin Bryant who had recently been imprisoned for committing 35 murders and causing 37 serious injuries in Tasmania in April 1996, in what became known as the Port Arthur Massacre. Bryant, according to Dr. Berelowitz and later, Wikipedia, had AS. Both sources turn out to be incorrect: the report of Paul E. Mullen, Professor of Forensic Psychiatry at Monash University, Melbourne, Australia, who examined Bryant in prison in May 1996, tells the story. In his criticism of an earlier diagnostic assessment by a Dr. Sale, Dr. Mullen wrote:

“Mr Bryant craves the attention of others. He desires relationships but fails to effectively communicate with others unlike the patients with Asperger's who are blandly indifferent to others. Mr Bryant also lacks, in my opinion, the central features of this condition, which are repetitive activities, unusual skills with all absorbing obsessive interests and problems with motor coordination. He also showed marked delay in the acquisition of language skills and required remedial therapy for this language deficit which is contrary to the picture found in those with Asperger's Syndrome.”[1]

While my experience of 18 years suggests to me that many with AS are not blandly indifferent to others, Bryant’s speech delay precludes this diagnosis. In addition, Bryant had an IQ of 66 – well below the average or above average IQ that experts consider necessary for this diagnosis.[2].

More recent reviews of the relevant medical literature do not support an association between an increased risk of violence and AS.[3]. This fact is crucial, lest the wider community stigmatize a population of individuals that are already poorly served and badly misunderstood by many. This does not mean, however, that those with AS are not at increased risk of violence under certain circumstances, as discussed below.

A further Web-based review (see below) of acts of violent crime similar to those seen in Port Arthur, Colombine, and Connecticut reveals that the majority of cases are not associated with any evidence of an ASD diagnosis in the perpetrator at all. So what do these tragedies have in common?

A common denominator

As with all tragedies of this nature, many try to make sense of the “senseless.”  In the case of Martin Bryant, Dr. Mullen failed. He concluded his expert psychiatric report with the following:

“The enormity of Mr Bryant's crimes call out for some explanation equally dramatic and extraordinary. It is not to be wondered at that the media have either attempted to portray Mr Bryant as afflicted by a dramatic mental illness, such as schizophrenia, or to be some kind of evil genius. In my opinion the origins of this terrible tragedy are not to be found in a single dramatic and sufficient cause, but in the interaction and combination of a range of influences and events. We may never know fully the intentions and state of mind which led to the killings, but a number of the contributions are apparent.”

Continue reading "Patterns In Chaos: Child Psychiatry, Violence and Autism" »

Wakefield Battle Revs Up with Appeal, Facebook Page and More

Dr. Andrew Wakefield suit headshotEditor's note: It's been great to see our side fighting back against Brian Deer and the medical-media orthodoxy, with the strong parental protest against Deer's appearance in Wisconsin, most recently Jen Larson's powerful letter to Deer's enablers in and around academe.

Tim Bolen explains the status and strategy of Andy Wakefield's appeal in the Texas defamation case.

Now there's a new facebook page, where Andy will be writing frequently. Check it out, beginning with this post, The Parent's Narrative.

"Autism’s Original Sin is that it fell, head-first, into the hands of Child Psychiatry. There it has foundered, washed back and forth on a tide of pin-the-tail on the DSM donkey – a pain in the metaphorical ass."

 

Canary Party Responds To Brian Deer's Rebuttal

Thanksgiving2011

When Brian Deer was introduced at the University of Wisconsin La Crosse earlier this month to give his version of events in the Wakefield/MMR controversy,  the audience was told, "There is no debate.”   That statement was swiftly refuted by WKTV news whose top story was: "Vaccine-Autism Debate Reaches La Crosse," (See video here.)    Among the many vaccine safety advocates who had contacted university officials was Jennifer VanDerHorst-Larson, President of the Canary Party and mother to a child with regressive autism, triggered by vaccines.  Her e-mail, critical of Deer,  was also sent to Canary Party's 5,000 members. Deer posted a response to her on his personal website, and VanDerHorst-Larson has now answered him in an e-mail to the more than 30 sponsors of  Deer's lectures at La Crosse. Her hope is to enlighten the La Crosse community and others about the side of the controversy the media does not report. In the latest installment of the debate, it looks like Deer is caught the headlights. Her response, running on the Canary Party website is below:

OPEN LETTER to the Sponsors of Brian Deer’s Lectures at The University of Wisconsin, La Crosse, October 2012

Allergy Associates of La Crosse (Drs. Vijay Sabnis, James Thompson, Ted Habel, David Morris, George Kroker, Mary Morris)

Marshfield Clinic and Labs  (Brian H. Ewert, MD, C. Todd Stewart, MD, Gene R. Shaw, MD)

Gundersen Lutheran Clinic  (Jeffrey E. Thompson, MD, Julio J. Bird, MD, Mary Kuffel, MD)

U of W La Crosse Foundation, Allen Trapp, President, Greg Reichert, Asst. Chancellor

College of Science and Health, Dean Bruce Riley

Departments of Biology, Microbiology, Chemistry, English, Health Education and Promotions, Communication Studies, Exercise and Sports:

Dr. David Howard, Chair, Biology Dept., Dr. S. N. Rajagopal, Chair, Microbiology Dept., Dr. Aaron Monte, Chair, Chemistry Dept. Dr. Susan Crutchfield, Chair, English Dept. Dr. Dan Duquette, Chair, Health Education and Promotions Dr. Linda Dickmeyer, Chair, Communication Studies, Dr. Mark Gibson, Chair, Exercise and Sports Science

Faculty of the Dept. of Microbiology: Sue Anglehart, Marisa Barbknecht, Bonnie Jo Bratina, Michael Hoffman, Michael A. Lazzari, Marc A. Rott, William Schwan, Diane Sewell, Bernadette C. Taylor, Peter Wilker, Mike Winfrey

Susan Betts, Dept. of Microbiology

Premed Club,  Jordan L. Ludwigson, President

Biology Club 

Microbiology Club, William Close, President

Institute for Biomolecular Sciences

Members of Distinguished Speakers Committee

cc:        Editor, Racquet Student Newspaper, Chancellor Gow

My name is Jennifer VanDerHorst-Larson, and my open letter to university officials was singled out by Brian Deer for response. As you know, Mr. Deer recently lectured at the university about the Wakefield/MMR vaccine controversy. On his website, Mr. Deer referred to my letter as a form of “abuse.”  (Please judge for yourself if it’s abusive.) My letter.  Mr. Deer’s response.

I am the mother of a boy with autism who developed normally – exceeding his milestones - until he received his Measles/Mumps/Rubella (MMR) and other vaccinations at 15 months. He reacted immediately and showed clear evidence of regression the day after his 15-month shots. By 18 months, he had lost all of his skills.  By 19 months, all he did was cry, bang his head and say “go” – his only remaining word. I was told to consider an institution for him, and he wasn’t even two.

At age 12, he is now diagnosed as severely autistic and in need of 24-hour supervision. He will never be independent. My son is also diagnosed with colitis – the bowel disease that was diagnosed in the Lancet 12 children with autism – denied by Brian Deer who spoke at La Crosse University. The gut-autism hypothesis has been placed under prolonged attack by those defending the vaccine program, including Brian Deer whose unsupported statements about the Lancet 12 children’s health  (“They don’t have bowel disease!”) have resulted in UK parents being unable to find medical help for their autistic children with bowel disease, the effects of which are profound and tragic.

High Court Judge Mitting has since rejected Mr. Deer’s claim that the 12 children were not seriously ill and did not require the medical attention they received from Professor Walker-Smith’s team at the Royal Free Hospital where Dr. Wakefield co-authored the controversial Lancet paper. 

 I am one of thousands of parents who have reported that their child (or children) regressed following vaccination. I was given the official medical explanation by Minneapolis doctors that my son’s regression was coincidental, even though no other pediatric medicine or procedure is associated with large numbers of “coincidental” reports of regression into autism.  To my knowledge, there is no case of a completely unvaccinated child developing normally and then spontaneously, dramatically regressing into autism. I think that’s significant. A retrospective, vaccinated vs. unvaccinated study would tell us more, but the government refuses to undertake such a study.

To Mr. Deer’s claim that the vaccine/autism link is a “fringe” theory put forth by “small groups of ill-informed, misguided” and “malicious people,” “desperate for attention,” I can only respond by asking you to watch this brief CBS interview of former NIH Director Dr. Bernadine Healy describing how medical authorities have refused to consider the possibility of an autism/vaccine link in susceptible children, for fear of scaring the general public.

There is also the case of Hannah Poling, a child who developed normally until she received 9 vaccine doses at one doctor’s visit. Her family will be compensated in the amount of $20 million over her lifetime by the U.S. government for her autism resulting from MMR and thimerosal-containing vaccines.  The Cochrane Review is not reassuring of MMR safety either, concluding: “The design and reporting in MMR safety studies both pre- and post marketing are largely inadequate.”  Please see the last page of my letter for links to independent studies that support Dr. Wakefield’s work, including peer-reviewed papers that duplicate his original findings in five additional countries.

Continue reading "Canary Party Responds To Brian Deer's Rebuttal" »

Enduring Memories: Prof John Walker-Smith recalls his life and the Wakefield affair.

Walker-smith.jpg.displayNote: Enduring Memories, Prof. Walker-Smith's memoir, is now available in the UK at The Village Bookshop.

By John Stone

‘Looking back I am astonished that I was able to study as many as 116 child autopsies during the period 10 October 1967 to 11 August 1969. That so many children should have died in a children’s hospital during this period of one year ten months shows how much we have advanced during the following thirty years. During my last five years at the Royal Free not one child died of a gastroenterological cause.’ [John Walker-Smith, Enduring Memories, 2nd edition 2012,  p. 113]

The corollary of this arresting statement was not only did John Walker-Smith live through those years he was at the very centre of the developments that enabled so many lives to be saved. It is an even more remarkable achievement when you consider that during those last five years Walker-Smith’s department was a place of tertiary referral and that many of the most intractable cases in the country would have been referred on to his department. As we know, in one of the most shameful episodes in modern British history (the nearest comparison being the mysterious death of David Kelly), and with the connivance of the medical and political establishment, within four years of  his retirement the department dismembered, his name publicly tarnished while a journalist with no medical qualifications – and a political agenda   - made accusations in a national newspaper, meanwhile accessing children’s private medical records with state connivance.

Continue reading "Enduring Memories: Prof John Walker-Smith recalls his life and the Wakefield affair." »

Brian Deer at UW-Lacrosse "The future for investigative journalism is very bleak"

Brian Deer LaCrosse Oct 5 2012By Nancy Hokkanen

On Friday, October 5 UK reporter Brian Deer gave his second presentation at the University of Wisconsin-LaCrosse, on “Stiletto Journalism: Busting the Vaccine Scare.” Ostensibly a primer on his coverage of the fallout from the 1998 Lancet MMR case series of Andrew Wakefield et al., in reality the presentation was part vanity schtick, argumentum ad hominem, and careful deception.

Seated in the unfilled room were students given credit to attend, and faculty positioned as if anticipating disruption. A muscular bald man sat in front facing the crowd, rather than the podium. Dr. Thomas Pribek, an assistant professor of English whose tweedy appearance came right out of central casting, mentioned having Deer in class the day before. In introducing the speaker, Pribek pontificated that stories garnering an “emotional response dissipate in the fog” but “facts remain in the light of day.”

Perhaps advised about the threatening implication of his chosen title, Deer stated that his use of the word “stiletto” only meant applying great force to a narrow area; he said journalists should use narrow focus rather than broad. The diminutive Brit claimed to have received intimidating emails at times in his career, and he used AIDS denialists as an example of zealotry over public health issues.

Deer announced to his audience that he had uncovered a “secret network of businesses” that would profit from Wakefield’s actions, including the affiliated University. All the information, he said, was “waiting in the public domain,” and took years to unfold because “you have to wait… not dump information.” (Later a student asked whether anyone else would ever have uncovered the MMR/autism story; Deer replied “No.”)

In a puzzling contradiction for someone seeking credibility, Deer quoted his aunt’s advice: “Believe nothing you hear, and hardly anything you see.”

The pejoratives and machismo began early, with Deer describing Andrew Wakefield as “this strange person” and using intimidating imagery – describing a scene from the movie A Bronx Tale in which a mobster beats a Hell’s Angel. Deer took obvious delight in listing the penalties against Wakefield onscreen and verbally, and boasted, “That was a result of journalism.”

Displaying a 2004 photo of Wakefield and Deer, the reporter admitted he “pursued Dr. Wakefield at Indianapolis.” To the laughter of the audience, he animatedly asserted that Wakefield covered the camera lens and ran, adding for humorous effect, “It was all very Edwardian.” Deer claimed Wakefield “called on parents to boycott the MMR vaccine” and “started the vaccine scare.”

(Below is a video of parental experience at an event in protest of the Deer appearance.)

At times the balding presenter used risqué language on the young audience, saying there are only two things he likes: “One is sex and the other is reading my name in the newspaper.” Deer said that after the BMJ ran its January 2011 article on Wakefield, a Harris poll showed that 145 million Americans “knew the fundamentals of the story” and his work had “a massive impact on public opinion.” Knowing that newspaper presses across the U.S. were running his story, he “felt a great honor at the time.”

(On a related note, students of journalism should look up which U.K. and U.S. newspapers once promoted a false link between Saddam Hussein and the 9/11 World Trade Center attacks.)

Next came comments discrediting the UK parents. Onscreen appeared a photo of Isabella Thomas and her two boys; according to Deer, who is not a medical professional, “neither had autism… it turned out they didn’t have it.” He said he filmed Jodie Marchant, and discussed her daughter’s digestion problems in repulsive detail. Marchant, he said, had made allegations against a doctor and a nurse; he noted without a touch of irony, “You can’t broadcast anybody’s unsupported allegations against anybody.”

Then Deer moved from parents to professionals. Dr. Richard Halvorson was maligned for selling single vaccines. Journalist Lucy Johnston was criticized for writing articles that provided Wakefield’s point of view (along with quotes from another MMR researcher, Dr. Vijendra Singh). Again, Deer seemed unaware of the self-incriminating implications when he proffered, “Newspaper [reporters] believe they have to climb on board and become public relations people.”

Continue reading "Brian Deer at UW-Lacrosse "The future for investigative journalism is very bleak"" »

Brian Deer at the University of WI La Crosse: “An Elaborate Fraud”

Brian deerBy Anne Dachel

It was truly a sad day for education on October 4, 2012 at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse as Brian Deer came to La Crosse to speak as part of the Distinguished Lecture Series in Life Sciences. The title of Deer’s talk was, An Elaborate Fraud: The MMR Vaccine & Autism. I was there with a number of other parents from the autism community from WI, MN, IN, and IL.

The University of WI-La Crosse made their position clear in the opening remarks of professor of immunology, Bernadette Taylor, before an audience of hundreds of UWL students. “There is no debate… This University did not invite a debate on that issue.”

Case closed: the University would not allow for a free exchange of ideas so informed, intelligent students could make up their own minds.

Brian Deer was then allowed to present his version of the most heated controversy in medicine today: Is our aggressively expanded vaccination schedule behind the exponential increase in autism. According to Deer and the UWL, the debate is over. Only a few desperate parents still believe in a link. The science has spoken.

This was a forum for Deer to expound on his claim that Dr. Andrew Wakefield had perpetrated a fraud on the public when he wrote about the possible link between the MMR vaccine and bowel disease and autism in children and Deer expressed no concern over why autism is now an epidemic affecting one in every 88 children, one in every 54 boys in the U.S.

Deer showed slides throughout his lecture. On the opening slide, in full view as the students came in, Deer had this quote highlighted: “If he wasn’t so fucking greedy, he’d a been tougher to spot.” In small type below were the words “Sam Rothstein, Casino, 1995.” Shown with the quote was a hand holding five aces—one extra ace of spades.

In his opening remarks, Deer explained that this was from the movie, Casino, which was about fraudulent gamblers and how they were caught, an obvious reference to Wakefield.

Deer attacked everything about Wakefield and his work. He ridiculed him both personally and professionally. He claimed Wakefield manipulated data and falsified the records of his patients. He said that Wakefield tried to blackmail officials into funding additional studies. He said Wakefield recruited patients to use as “guinea pigs” for his fraudulent research. He alleged that none of the 12 patients Wakefield wrote about actually had bowel disease. He said that the claim of Michelle Cedillo in Vaccine Court had been a fraud and that she was shown on video to display autistic behavior before her MMR. He even made a reference to Dr. Wakefield’s mother where he speculated that she might have been into the sherry before he interviewed her.

Deer singled out Josh Edwards from the UK. He described him as a boy who had GI disease that resulted in the removal of his bowel because of a “severe food intolerance,” and not the result of the MMR vaccine.

(See this Age of Autism story about Josh Edwards. Also see his mother, Heather Edwards, on the video about parents in the UK whose children were damaged by the MMR.)

Deer never mentioned that the British government indemnified the manufacturer of the MMR vaccine against all liability for MMR damage and that the UK government will be liable if it’s recognized that this vaccine triggers bowel disease and autism.

Continue reading "Brian Deer at the University of WI La Crosse: “An Elaborate Fraud”" »

British Medical Journal Deposition Raises Questions For Brian Deer in Wakefield Lawsuit

Brian deerBy Dan Olmsted

Brian Deer's appearances in Wisconsin yesterday and today -- and Andy Wakefield's press conference there Thursday -- are coming amid the continued crumbling of Deer's British Medical Journal case against Wakefield. Check out the depositions from Andy's defamation suit against Deer, including the first one, featuring a British Medical Journal fact checker who can't remember too many facts and doesn't sound like she checked too many, either (including whether the children did or did not have autism, kind of a key point).

 “The parents’ story is the most valuable starting point, and if the parents say, ‘This is what happened to my child, they were normal, they had a vaccine, now they're not normal,’ and this happens not once, but thousands of times around the world, then we have to take that very seriously,” Wakefield told a crowd of about 50  at a local park, according to WKBT in LaCrosse. “Here we have, for the first time, something in autism, which is directly treatable and where we can make the lives of these children so much better, and what a tragedy not to capitalize on that,” said Wakefield.

I got an e-mail press query yesterday: "Do you think Dr. Wakefield has a chance at rebuilding his reputation among most Americans after what has occurred in recent years?" My response: Andy plans to address Deer's claims that he engineered "an elaborate fraud" in the 1998 Lancet paper. It's certainly appropriate for Deer and others to investigate that paper, but it's also important for other journalists to hold Deer to high standards of accuracy and fairness in making such a serious and important claim.

I spent several months both in the US and England investigating Deer's claims. I found no evidence of fraud at all and have so far written 10 articles about that at AgeOfAutism.com. The vindication of Andy's co-author, John Walker-Smith, puts Deer in an even more problematic position, in that Walker-Smith independently vouched for the accuracy of many statements in the Lancet paper that Deer claims were fraudulently manipulated by Wakefield.

The fact is, based on my own reporting including interviews with parents in Lancet paper and many other sources, I believe that the MMR does cause bowel disease and autism. Thousands of parents and others know it to their great sorrow and have tried to sound the alarm. Andy will be speaking along with some of those parents. Ultimately, because he and they are telling the truth, his reputation will be rebuilt. The quickest way for that to happen is to get Deer's false claims in front of a jury, which Andy and his supporters are diligently working to do.

Read the depositions HERE. Learn more at Dr. Wakefield's justice fund.

Researcher Wakefield in LaCrosse Oct. 4 to Detail UK Reporter’s Fraud

Dr. Andrew Wakefield suit headshotST. PAUL, MINN. – Researcher and patient advocate Andrew Wakefield, MB, BS, FRCS, FRCPath, will hold a press conference with Midwest autism families at a public park in LaCrosse, Wisconsin on Thursday, October 4 from 1-1:45 p.m.

The information session will be at the Myrick Park Gun Shelter, 2020 Myrick Park Drive, just north of the University of Wisconsin-LaCrosse off Highway 16/LaCrosse Street.

Wakefield, an academic gastroenterologist and author of more than 140 scientific articles, will correct false reports on the 1998 Lancet MMR vaccine case series he co-authored with 12 other researchers. Freelance writer Brian Deer will talk Oct. 4-5 at UW-LaCrosse; in 2003 Deer was asked by a newspaper editor to come up with “something big” on the MMR.

Examples of Deer’s inaccuracies and unethical behavior are posted on the Internet, including a nine-part “Elaborate Fraud” series at the Age of Autism. Editor and former UPI investigative reporter Dan Olmsted interviewed more Lancet parents than Deer, whose deceptions include:

  • Deer obtaining confidential medical records that patients’ doctors couldn't even access;
  • Deer lying to parents by interviewing them using a fabricated name;
  • Deer lying about what was said in an interview with a parent;
  • Deer falsely claiming that children from the Lancet case series “didn’t have bowel disease” – though doctors’ records prove they do.

In March Wakefield’s colleague Dr. John Walker-Smith was exonerated by the High Court, with testimony under oath stating tests undertaken in the Lancet paper were clinically indicated and not for litigation purposes. Mr Justice Mitting criticized the U.K. General Medical Council, stating its judgment had been "based on inadequate and superficial reasoning."

Continue reading "Researcher Wakefield in LaCrosse Oct. 4 to Detail UK Reporter’s Fraud" »

Age of Autism Weekly Wrap: LaCrosse Drinks Brian Deer's Kool-Aid

Keep Calm Write OnBy Dan Olmsted

As an English major, I'm really disappointed to see the English Department at the University of Wisconsin-LaCrosse promoting Brian Deer's talks next week at the University. According to the department's blog, Deer "carried out one of the classic public interest investigations of recent times. He probed the controversy over vaccines and autism.  Based on this landmark inquiry, and 25 years of pursuing complex, contentious topics, he gives a reporter's inside perspective on how to break a difficult story." 

"Fears that vaccines cause autism has become one of the biggest health controversies in America. But where did the story begin, and what keeps it going?"

The truth, fellow English majors and would-be journalists, is that the story began when vaccines began causing autism, and what keeps the story going is that vaccines keep causing autism. That's my view, but I'm not alone, and the fact that I and thousands of others hold that view shows that Deer's presentation should be treated as one side of a controversy, not as a how-to session. The promo -- doubtless supplied by Deer or his enablers -- acknowledges it's a real controversy, but then immediately reverts to the idea that some nonsense abroad in the population is perpetuating this ridiculous idea of a vaccine-autism link.

That is the kind of subtle subversion of logic and language to which English majors, especially, should be alert. The medical and scientific community may be in the tank, but this is a story in which close attention to rhetoric and reality can point to the truth as directly as any other evidence.

There's nothing wrong with having Deer speak at an American university, although I can't see much point in it. But the issue needs to be presented as a debate, a dialogue, and prosepective journalists need to study the controversy, not slaver over the author because he has won some awards and the orthodox medical and media establishments are drunk on his Kool-Aid. Andy Wakefield shouldn't have to scratch around for a venue to hold his own press conference. He should be invited in to confront Deer, or to appear in a similarly respectable capacity. Or, if not Wakefield, I've written and presented on the problems with Deer's reporting and would have been glad to do so again (they wouldn't have to pay me, which I can only assume is another difference between myself and Deer).

The title of Deer's other talk, "An Elaborate Fraud: The MMR Vaccine and Autism," is not really holding up well, either, given developments since the series by that title appeared in the British Medical Journal in January 2011. According to the promo: "Over a period of seven years, Brian Deer investigated the story for The Sunday Times of London and now comes to LaCrosse to reveal what Time Magazine dubbed one of the 'great science frauds' of all time.  Launched from one British hospital in the 1990s, the scare took hold first in the UK, and then spread around the globe, leaving doctors baffled, children at risk, parents frightened, and lawyers with a lot more money. Deer shows how it was done, who did it, and why it will happen again."

The question to be asked is not how was it done, etc., but, What fraud?

Inconveniently, Wakefield's co-author on the 1988 "Lancet" paper, the renowned John Walker- Walker-smith.jpg.displaySmith, was exonerated of the British medical establishment's trumped-up charges this year by a British civil court with a thorough-goingness that directly discredits many of those breathless assertions against Wakefield, including claims that there was no regressive autism, no bowel disease, no genuine case series, no plausible link to the MMR. For instance, here is what Smith said under oath :

--

Q. What did you believe that you were finding?

A. Just like many times in my career before, we were finding a new disorder. … We were beginning to see a new syndrome, fairly clear features of children [with regressive developmental disorders] presenting with diarrhoea, very often abdominal pain which often was not diagnosed by other doctors. ...There is a characteristic symptom pattern. ... Clearly in the context of autism we felt something new was coming, and that is the motivation, of course, for us clinicians to feel that it was appropriate for Andy Wakefield to take the lead, and write these features for publication.

Q. Having gone through the histology reports, the synthesis of those reports in the histology meetings, it is clear that there are abnormalities there ---?

A. Yes.

Continue reading "Age of Autism Weekly Wrap: LaCrosse Drinks Brian Deer's Kool-Aid" »

Best of AofA: What's Behind Ben Goldacre?

Ben Goldacre GSK


(Reprinted from August, 2010)

By John Stone

After years of secrecy on the matter confirmation has finally come to light that Guardian ‘Bad Science’ journalist Ben Goldacre is the son of Oxford professor of public health  Michael  J Goldacre (HERE). Prof Goldacre has been director since 1986 of the UK Department Health funded Unit of Healthcare Epidemiology (HERE).  The family relationship is mentioned in a review of Goldacre junior’s Bad Science book in the peer-review journal Medicine, Conflict and Survival  (25, p.255-7, 2009)by Dr Ian Fairlie, but there has been a long term lack of candour about the matter. While the reasons for the secrecy remain unknown it is possible that if the relationship, which has never before been mentioned in the mainstream media or scientific publications, had been common knowledge it might have raised questions about the independence of the younger Goldacre’s views.  Goldacre senior was a co-author of a study of the effects of GlaxoSmithKline’s notorious Urabe strain version of MMR, Pluserix, after it was suddenly withdrawn from public use in 1992 (HERE): the Unit has produced several MMR related studies.

Ben Goldacre’s column which started in 2003 has featured his largely epidemiological approach to health issues, most prominently MMR and autism. Coming apparently from nowhere, journalistically speaking, he was promoted to the role of an “opinion leader” from the outset. His early article MMR: Never mind the facts won the accolade of the GlaxoSmithKline sponsored Association of British Science Writers’ award for the best feature article of 2003.
 
The article, however, used flawed epidemiology for which he later offered no defence (HERE), as well as including an anonymous attack on Andrew Wakefield by one of Wakefield’s colleagues. This was just the first of several notable interventions Ben Goldacre in the MMR affair. A stock-in-trade has been his generalised attacks on parents of MMR damaged children. His Bad Science blogsite for a long time offered this intimidatory advice to would-be contributors:

“..personal anecdotes about your MMR tragedy will be deleted for your own safety”
(HERE)

A fundamental of Ben Goldacre’s journalistic method is the ad hominem and he always talks across opponents: he can always depend on the greater prominence of his published views and he never answers the many awkward criticisms.

The Goldacre dynasty seem to be one of several with on-going connections with the MMR affair:

  • *Dr Evan Harris, the former MP, who accompanied Brian Deer to make accusations against Andrew Wakefield and colleagues, and led a debate under privilege in the House of Commons making further allegations of unethical practices (HERE) is the son of paediatrician Prof Frank Harris who sat on the Committee on Safety in Medicines and the adverse reactions to vaccine committee ARVI in the early 1990s when Pluserix MMR vaccine had to be withdrawn (HERE) , (HERE) , (HERE).

Continue reading "Best of AofA: What's Behind Ben Goldacre?" »

Guess Who's Coming To America? Brian Deer To Speak in Wisconsin. Wakefield Press Conference First.

Dr. Andrew Wakefield suit headshotBy Ed Arranga Brian deer

Brian Deer – a liar, fraud, and former reporter for The Sunday Times of London – is coming to the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse October 4 and 5 to lecture you about Dr. Andrew Wakefield and the MMR vaccine. On Oct. 4 Deer’s lecture is An Elaborate Fraud: The MMR Vaccine & Autism,” and then on Oct. 5, Stiletto Journalism: Busting the Vaccine Scare.”

Deer’s talks at La Crosse are a continuation of the misinformation campaign to destroy Wakefield and to deny his Lancet case series (here) that was published in 1998. Wakefield found bowel disease in children with autism spectrum disorder and raised questions about the safety of the MMR. (Click here for an overview of the misinformation campaign.)

In 2003 autism rates were exploding. Parents were blaming the MMR. It was time for industry and its cronies to get ugly. Deer was told by his Times editor to find “something big” on the MMR. Deer’s series of stories in 2004 were just what the powers that be needed: Protect the guilty, sacrifice the science, and kill the messenger. Dr. Wakefield and Professor John Walker-Smith were the messengers who lost their licenses to practice medicine when the General Medical Council (GMC, the governing board of doctors in the UK) – eager to quash any further scientific inquiries and shield pharma – circled their wagons. 

The Deer-inspired, GMC-trumped-up charges and findings were so rotten and perverted that when the case finally got before a real judge, in a real court – the High Court of London –  Justice Mitting overturned the findings, criticized the panel's “inadequate and superficial reasoning," and admonished the GMC by stating, "It would be a misfortune if this were to happen again."

By the time Judge Mitting blasted the GMC and Parliament began investigating and arresting Murdoch reporters, Deer had already written another series of articles (hereherehere), falsely accusing Dr. Wakefield of having committed fraud. Published in the BMJ in January 2011, the articles follow the same twisted pattern of deceit Deer learned while working in the criminally-corrupt Murdoch newspaper culture: Lie, lie, and lie some more.

Deer’s BMJ series created the intended frenzy. Finally an answer… well, not really an answer, but any questions about the autism epidemic could now be sidetracked by mainstream media into a “Blame Wakefield” mantra.  Complacent and compliant, mainstream media was free to continue their mission as a casual observer, watching as they did in 2008 as America’s economy melted down, and for the last decade watching as America’s healthcare system melts down. 

Continue reading "Guess Who's Coming To America? Brian Deer To Speak in Wisconsin. Wakefield Press Conference First." »

University College London Pulls out of Holding an Inquiry into the Wakefield Affair

MMR-doctor-andrew-wakefie-001By John Stone

Eighteen months after University College London, the parent institution of the Royal Free Hospital, announced their intention of holding an inquiry into the “Wakefield affair” in a controversial BBC radio documentary they have finally backed down according to a report by Zosia Kmietowicz in British Medical Journal. The decision represents a particular defeat for BMJ and its editor Fiona Godlee, who had been pressing for the inquiry after long delays in setting up. At one point Godlee – in November 2011 - appealed in vain to the UK House of Commons and Science and Technology Committee to take over from UCL, but UCL insisted that a chairperson would be appointed and terms of reference published by the end of the year. This never happened.

Now Kmietowicz reports:

“In a paper on the development of its new framework, UCL said that after taking advice from the UK Research Integrity Office and “a senior legal figure” it concluded that “the net result [from an investigation] would likely be an incomplete set of evidence and an inconclusive process costing a substantial sum of money.”

However, she fails to mention that this follows the complete exoneration of John Walker-Smith, the senior author and clinician in the 1998 Wakefield-Lancet paper, in the English High Court earlier this year. Sir John Mitting threw out all the findings of the General Medical Council against Walker-Smith hearing where he had stood accused with Andrew Wakefield and Simon Murch – while Murch as the more junior clinician had been allowed to resume his career after the three year hearing, Wakefield was not funded as Walker-Smith had been to pursue his appeal, and it presently lies in abeyance. The charges against all three were entirely based on accusations by journalist Brian Deer whom the Sunday Times had originally sent on a fishing expedition against Wakefield.

Continue reading "University College London Pulls out of Holding an Inquiry into the Wakefield Affair" »

Dan Olmsted at Autism One on The Wakefield Inquisition

VideoWe invite you to watch Dan Olmsted discuss and dissect the GMC and mainstream media's battle against Dr. Andrew Wakefield in his presentation from last May at Autism One.

Abstract: The unprecedented journalistic attack on Dr. Wakefield and colleagues after their 1998 paper on autism and bowel disease has begun coming apart at the seams. Now that Wakefield has filed a defamation suit, and a judge in England cleared the paper's other senior author of all wrongdoing, it's time to ask: How did Murdoch's London Sunday Times and the British Medical Journal get away for so long with getting the story so wrong? How long will it take the mainstream media to do its job and report the real facts? (If the embedded video does not appear click HERE.)

The Immunization Partnership Applauds Meachum's Ruling, Exposing Her Conflict of Interest

Scales injusticeBy Jake Crosby

Confirming her conflict of interest, Judge Amy Clark Meachum's decision to throw Dr. Andrew Wakefield's defamation case out of district court was publicly applauded by the President/CEO of The Immunization Partnership who promised to continue working with the Texas Academy of Family Physicians (TAFP), for which Judge Meachum's husband lobbies.

On August 9th in the comments section of “Science”Blogs, The Immunization Partnership President/CEO Anna C Dragsbaek wrote:

Thanks for your very humorous blog. I am the President and CEO of The Immunization Partnership, the organization that hosts The Texas Immunization Summit every two years. We applaud the judge’s decision in this case and continue to work with TAFP, and countless other organization around the state to ensure that Texas is protected against vaccine preventable diseases. As you might imagine, we are at ‘ground zero’ in the anti-vaccine debate. We fight everyday to counteract the egregious flow of misinformation and erroneous assertions that are propagated by Andrew Wakefield and his colleagues. As for the conspiracy theory, if working in collaboration with all of the stakeholders locally and nationally to ensure that families do not suffer the consequences of vaccine-preventable diseases is conspiracy, then color us guilty. In the meantime, we will continue to advocate for evidence-based immunization laws and policies, educate the public and support immunization best practices. We welcome your participation in our upcoming Texas Immunization Summit, September 27th and 28th. Come see how Texans are stepping up to the plate on this critical issue.

However, the keynote address at this upcoming TAFP-sponsored summit will not be given by a Texan, but by the vaccine industry's media go-to guy Seth Mnookin, who has made libeling Dr. Wakefield a considerable part of his career. At the 2011 World Science Festival in New York City, I was standing right next to Mnookin when I heard him tell another attendee that Dr. Wakefield “faked his data.” At a conference put on by a Merck-chaired organization, Seth Mnookin booted me out when I defended Dr. Wakefield in Q and A. Similarly, when the judge's decision was announced, Mnookin tweeted:

Wakefield harassment suit against BMJ & journalist thrown out of court. http://leftbrainrightbrain.co.uk/2012/08/03/wakefield-vs-bmj-lawsuit-dismissed-on-jurisdiction-grounds/ … h/t @ejwillingham

In 2008, the Texas Immunization Summit hosted a keynote speech by millionaire vaccine industrialist Paul Offit and in 2010, hosted a talk – sponsored by TAFP – given by anti-vaccine-autism research group Autism Science Foundation's president/founder Alison Singer. She tells parents to vaccinate recklessly even though she split the MMR vaccine into three separate shots for her neurotypical second daughter.

Continue reading "The Immunization Partnership Applauds Meachum's Ruling, Exposing Her Conflict of Interest" »

Dr. Peter Harvey: In Memoriam

In memoriamAs a consultant neurologist at the Royal Free Hospital, London, Peter Harvey was one of thirteen authors on the 1998 Lancet paper that first drew attention to the link between autism and bowel disease. Not once in all the time that has passed and the trouble that has flowed did he waiver in his support for the parents of those children, the conviction that their story of regression following MMR vaccination is valid, and the findings reported in that paper. In a saga of calumny, cowardice, and capitulation, Peter was resolute unto his death. Peter died at his house in Valboulet – Valley of Balls – France, where his ashes are scattered. Never was a last resting place more aptly named.

Andy Wakefield

Judge in Wakefield Case Amy Clark Meachum's Husband Lobbies for Sponsor of Alison Singer

Justice not blindBy Jake Crosby Meacham

Amy Clark Meachum, the judge who threw Dr. Andrew Wakefield's case out of district court by essentially saying that BMJ, Fiona Godlee and Brian Deer can libel him all they want since they are from the UK, is married to a lobbyist named Kurt Meachum of Philips & Meachum Public Affairs.

According to Texas Tribune Lobbyist's directory, Kurt Meachum's client, the Texas Academy of Family Physicians, earned him $10,000-$25,000 in 2011 alone. What is the significance of this? Family physicians give many vaccinations as a considerable part of their practice. But that's hardly the beginning of the story.

In 2010, the Texas Academy of Physicians sponsored a talk given by none other than Pharma Front Group President and Founder Alison Singer at a vaccine industry conference no less. Her group, “Autism Science Foundation,” was founded for the expressed purpose of discouraging vaccine-autism research. Despite telling parents to vaccinate recklessly at the 2010 Texas Immunization Summit, Singer split the measles, mumps, rubella vaccine in three separate shots for her second daughter, who does not have autism, unlike her first who received the combined shot.

Meanwhile, Dr. Andrew Wakefield's lawsuit is not over; he is appealing. A successful appeal by Professor John Walker-Smith already discredited all the charges of serious professional misconduct against Dr. Wakefield concerning the Lancet paper he coauthored. Brian Deer, Fiona Godlee and the BMJ had better hope the influence of the vaccine industry is strong enough to ensure Dr. Wakefield's case never makes its way to an unbiased judge. Otherwise, they will be back in court before they know it.

Jake Crosby has Asperger Syndrome and is a contributing editor to Age of Autism. He is a 2011 graduate of Brandeis University with a BA in both History and Health: Science, Society and Policy. He currently attends The George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services where he is studying for an MPH in epidemiology.

 

The Appeal Is On Dr. Wakefield District Court Decision Not Unexpected

Texas flagIn a disappointing, but not unexpected ruling Travis County District Judge Amy Clark Meachum said, Texas Courts do not have jurisdiction in the defamation lawsuit Dr. Wakefield filed against the British Medical Journal (BMJ), the journal’s editor, Fiona Godlee, and a journal reporter, Brian Deer.

“We feel confident moving forward,” said Ed Arranga, executive director of the Dr. Wakefield Justice Fund. “We will appeal the district court decision and welcome the opportunity to having our case heard by the appeals court. Our intent remains the same – to get the facts in front of a jury. The community remains steadfast in its support of Dr. Wakefield.” 

Sylvia Pimental, a mom and Justice Fund member, echoed the support. “We knew this would be a long fight before filing and have every faith the appeals court will rule in Dr. Wakefield’s favor. We believe Texas has a strong legal interest in protecting its residents from attack by foreign entities.”

Dr. Wakefield has 30 days to file his appeal from the date of Judge Meachum’s order. The case would be heard by the Third Court of Appeals, in Austin, Texas and the case may involve issues that are of interest to the Texas Supreme Court. 

Jon Edwards Video Trailer: A Story of Hope and Autism

Alli Edwards NAPPYBy 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 richard.horton@lancet.com

The Lancet should Reinstate the Andrew Wakefield Paper

The-lancet-illustrationBy Martin Hewitt

In the wake of the High Court judgment on Professor John Walker-Smith’s appeal against the decision of the General Medical Council (the UK regulatory body for doctors) to delicense him, what should now happen to the retracted paper he co-authored with Dr Andrew Wakefield? The decision lies with The Lancet editor, Dr Richard Horton. But what are the grounds for reinstating the paper as a properly conducted clinical investigation into 12 children with autism and bowel disease admitted to the paediatric gastroenterology department at the Royal Free Hospital (RFH) London in the mid-1990s? The paper was the focus of the GMC’s trial of the three senior authors on charges of serious professional misconduct which led to the delicensing of Walker-Smith and Wakefield.

Background

Few academic articles have been dogged by the controversy attending the now retracted  Lancet Paper ‘Ileal-lymphoid-nodular hyperplasia, non-specific colitis, and pervasive developmental disorder in children’ since its publication in February 1998. (Another link to retracted paper here.) In seeking to avert controversy The Lancet published an editorial accompanying the paper to warn against drawing the wrong conclusions that the paper had established that the MMR caused autism and bowel disease. The paper, which went through several cautious redrafts, said it "did not prove an association between measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine and the syndrome described”, adding that “Virological studies are underway that may help to resolve this issue”.

On publication the RFH took the exceptional step of holding a press conference to launch the paper in the hope of preventing the media and public from concluding that the MMR was unsafe and to avert a collapse in MMR take-up. When Dr Andrew Wakefield the lead writer was asked by the press if he would personally support the three-in-one MMR vaccine, he responded by advising parents to choose the single measles, mumps and rubella vaccines spaced out at intervals. Whilst his comments were seized on by the press as evidence that the MMR was unsafe and by the medical establishment as highly irresponsible, his answer accorded with official government policy. At the time the government vaccination schedule offered the choice between MMR and the three separate vaccines, in accord with the Department of Health's express policy when the MMR was launched in 1988.

Continue reading "The Lancet should Reinstate the Andrew Wakefield Paper" »

Dr. Andrew Wakefield Exclusive on American Investigator: Autism Numbers Likely far Higher than One in 88

RichardMoore(15p4c)By Richard Moore

Speaking in an exclusive interview with Richard Moore on the American Investigator and for The Lakeland Times, internationally renowned and controversial autism researcher Dr. Andrew Wakefield says recently announced numbers on the prevalence of autism – which showed a two-year spike from one in 110 children diagnosed with ASD to one in 88 – are likely understated and by a dramatic order.

Hear the entire interview on the American Investigator podcast at www.rmmoore1.com at 8:30 a.m., Tuesday, April 17, 2012. The entire podcast will be devoted to the issue of autism. In addition, the interview will appear in Friday’s edition of The Lakeland Times (www.lakelandtimes.com).

“The CDC data (that children born in 2000 have a one in 88 risk of autism) is actually out of date,” Wakefield said. “If you extrapolate that risk of developing autism to a child born today, you may be looking at something as high as 1 in 25 or 1 in 29. That's an absolutely staggering level.”

Wakefield was referring to the fact that the new CDC numbers were based on 2008 data of eight year olds diagnosed with autism. Thus the numbers reflect the risk of autism for children born in 2000; because the numbers have continuously escalated, children born in 2012 are likely at much higher risk.

In the interview, Wakefield reiterated his belief that the autism epidemic is environmental, and vaccines are a prime culprit.

"You do not have a genetic epidemic,” he said. “The cause is environmental. Yes, the cause is complex, too, but the way you unravel a complex mystery is to listen to the parents' narrative. What actually happened to the child? This is where medicine begins. This is where the clues come from. And when we were working on this back in (England in) 1995, the parents told the story that their normally developing children regressed after a vaccine.”

Wakefield also offered concerned parents some important advice.

"Challenge your doctors,” Wakefield said. “Don't just say it’s OK because my doctor says so. Say, 'OK, could you tell me the science upon which you base your opinion that the current vaccine schedule is entirely safe?’”

Continue reading "Dr. Andrew Wakefield Exclusive on American Investigator: Autism Numbers Likely far Higher than One in 88" »

BMJ's Godlee Swears She Did Not Know Wakefield Lived in Texas In Face of Documentary Evidence

Robespierre'On Thursday 12 April 2012 British Medical Journal's appeal against Andrew Wakefield's libel suit being heard in Texas goes before Travis County Court in Austin. John Stone, AoA's UK editor, reports on developments in the case.'  You can donate to the Andrew Wakefield Justice fund HERE.

BMJ editor Fiona Godlee swears that she and her colleagues did not know that Andrew Wakefield lived in Texas, in the face of documentary evidence.

By John Stone

In an attempt by British Medical Journal to wrest Andrew Wakefield’s libel case from the jurisdiction of a Texas court its editor Fiona Godlee has denied ‘under penalty of perjury’ that she and her colleagues were ever aware that Wakefield resided in Texas, despite numerous references in the journal to this fact since 2005. The declaration which was made to the court twice, first on 28 February 2012 and then on 5 April, coincided on the second occasion with the presentation by Wakefield’s lawyers of annotated evidence that the fact had often been reported by the journal. This claim must cast doubt on Godlee’s competence and reliability as a witness. It follows her remarkable claim last year, at a meeting of the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, that she did not know that BMJ’s business partners Merck and GSK were manufacturers of MMR vaccine . It also follows the revelation last month that BMJ had not had the article by Brian Deer – on which its claims of fraud against Wakefield were based – externally peer reviewed, as claimed at the time of publication, (See BMJ HERE.)

The wording of Godlee’s twice made declaration is as follows:

‘Indeed, to the best of my recollection, even though I was aware that the Plaintiff had relocated  Godlee2 to the United States, I do not believe that I knew that the Plaintiff was a Texas resident at the time of these publications, and I am not aware of anyone else at BMJ publishing group who knew the Plaintiff was a Texas resident.

‘I declare under penalty of perjury that the foregoing is true and correct.’

Meanwhile, an affidavit (paras 28-38) from Wakefield’s lawyers (signed John D Saba)  lists references by the journal going back six and a half years:

Clare Dyer on-line 10 November 2005  ‘High Court judge criticises Andrew Wakefield for trying to silence his critics’ quote:

“Dr Wakefield, who now works in Austin, Texas…”

Owen Dyer on-line 12 July 2007  [print version 17 July] ‘GMC hearing against Wakefield opens’ quote:

“Dr Wakefield, now lives in Austin, Texas…”

Owen Dyer on-line 3 April 2008  [print version 5 April 2008]  ‘Wakefield tells GMC he was motivated by concern for autistic children’ quote:

“Dr Wakefield, now lives in Austin, Texas…”

Clare Dyer on-line 29 January 2010  ‘Wakefield was dishonest and irresponsible over MMR research, says GMC’ quote:

Dr Wakefield…is now executive director of Thoughtful House Center for Children in Austin, Texas..’

Continue reading "BMJ's Godlee Swears She Did Not Know Wakefield Lived in Texas In Face of Documentary Evidence" »

Brian Deer’s BMJ Series Not Peer Reviewed

Peer ReviewBy Jake Crosby

It’s been quite a month. Along with the clearing of Professor John Walker-Smith’s name, the discrediting of the Lancet’s retraction of Wakefield et al. for which he was senior author and the subsequent evisceration of most of the General Medical Council’s (GMC’s) charges “found proved” against Dr. Andrew Wakefield, comes yet more insightful news about the British Medical Journal (BMJ) article accusing him of fraud. BMJ Editor-in-Chief Fiona Godlee has persistently claimed that Part I of Brian Deer’s “Secrets of the MMR Scare” Series, “How the case against the MMR vaccine was fixed,” was peer reviewed. However, she has never been clear about how this was done.

Until now.

If there is anything new from Brian Deer, Dr. Fiona Godlee and the BMJ Publishing Group’s “anti-SLAPP motion to dismiss” Dr. Andrew Wakefield’s defamation lawsuit, it’s that no one other than Dr. Godlee, deputy editor Dr. Jane Smith and associate editor Dr. Harvey Marcovitch reviewed Deer’s stories pre-publication. In other words, Deer’s entire series was never peer reviewed, in contrast to what Dr. Godlee falsely claimed via email about Part I of the series (responding to emails sent by Age of Autism readers):

The article, which was subjected to peer review and editorial checking, was based on enquiries carried out over some seven years, involving, among other things, interviews with parents of children enrolled in Andrew Wakefield's research.

Underneath the Footnotes section of the article in BMJ reads the following claim:

Provenance and peer review: Commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

The motion-to-dismiss cites written declarations from all three editors and from Brian Deer on behalf of the defendants: Brian Deer, Dr. Godlee and the BMJ Publishing Group.

Yet Dr. Marcovitch is not correctly referred to as an associate editor in the motion as he was on the accompanying editorial cosigned by him at the time Part I of Deer’s series was published. Instead, Dr. Marcovitch is referred to as an “external reviewer.” What’s more, Brian Deer, Dr. Fiona Godlee and the BMJ Publishing Group used this false reference to deny actual malice:

Additional Fact-Checking and External Review: Not only did the BMJ fully trust Deer and his reporting, it and Dr. Godlee took extra steps to ensure the reporting was truthful. For Deer, who was ever mindful of Dr. Wakefield's prior litigation and regulatory-complaint history, this meant five months of work to ensure that every word and every citation was verified. (166) For the BMJ, this meant a separate fact-check of the first article by a deputy editor (Smith) and an external review for scientific accuracy by an expert pediatrician (Dr. Marcovitch).(167) Pre-publication review by outside sources constitutes affirmative evidence of no actual malice.

Of course, Dr. Marcovitch was not an outside source as claimed in the motion. Not only that, he was perhaps the most conflicted of all three editorial cosignatories. His conflicts included being the head of panels for the GMC and being a member of a pharma-backed company, the UK Research Integrity Office (UKRIO). There was even a campaign launched by Age of Autism readers last year to complain about him to the GMC.

Although he is still listed as associate editor on the BMJ website’s masthead, Dr. Marcovitch claimed to have left the publication late last year. When contacted by the National Whistleblower Center’s Dr. David Lewis during his investigation of the journal’s institutional research misconduct, Dr. Marcovitch bowed out of the probe with the excuse that he was no longer associated with BMJ Publishing Group:

Subject: Re: NWC Board Meeting

From: HARVEY MARCOVITCH Hide

To: lewisdavel

Cc:

Bcc:

Date: Fri, Oct 14, 2011, 11:15 am

Dear Dr Lewis,

I no longer have any association with BMJ Publishing Group so cannot assist with your query.

Harvey Marcovitch

Yet he has now made a written declaration of support for the motion to dismiss served by the lawyers of Brian Deer, Dr. Fiona Godlee and the BMJ Publishing Group. Throughout the motion, Dr. Marcovitch’s declaration was cited either to repeat the GMC’s discredited findings against the Lancet paper by Wakefield et al., or to dramatically allege the paper started “one of the great public health disasters in the UK in modern times.”

One claim for which the motion did not cite Marcovitch’s declaration was that he was an “expert pediatrician” who “externally reviewed” Part I of Brian Deer’s series for “scientific accuracy.” The declaration that was cited to support the claim of Marcovitch’s independence was made by Dr. Fiona Godlee, herself a defendant in the case as well as editor-in-chief of the medical journal being sued.

But will she stand by that declaration in a foreign court, having traveled all the way from London, England to Austin, Texas so as to perjure herself on her own behalf as well as her current employer’s? I wouldn’t put much past her, but that seems very unlikely.

Would Dr. Marcovitch be willing to travel all the way from London, England to Austin, Texas just to perjure himself in a foreign court on behalf of what he claims are his ex-boss and his ex-employer by lying that he was an “external reviewer” when he was in fact an associate editor of the BMJ? That seems even less likely.

BMJ’s lawyers will say whatever is most convenient in their attempt to quash Dr. Wakefield’s lawsuit and keep it from reaching trial. They did the same when denying Brian Deer received a letter from a parent accusing him of misrepresenting his own son’s case in the BMJ series.

However, I would imagine a motion’s strength depends on whether the arguments made in that motion could be legally made under oath in a court of law. That is not the case here; the BMJ’s argument of external review is not even consistent. The motion’s introduction made an oxymoronic statement about Dr. Marcovitch’s role in the affair when it said Deer’s investigation was:

…subjected to multiple editorial reviews, including an external review by an expert pediatrician.

An external review cannot be included as an editorial review. An editor, like Harvey Marcovitch before supposedly jumping ship, makes an editorial review.

Continue reading "Brian Deer’s BMJ Series Not Peer Reviewed" »

Editorial by Jenny McCarthy: MMR Doctor Exonerated—Who’s Guilty Now?

Jenny 2012By Jenny McCarthy

The parent autism community is buzzing with excitement over a ruling by a British judge clearing Dr. Andrew Wakefield’s colleague and co-author of all charges against him that arose from a study of the relationship between gut disease, autism, and the MMR vaccine.

Judge John Mitting’s conclusion, from an appeal by the highly respected pediatric gastroenterologist Prof. John Walker-Smith, stated:

“…both on general issues and the Lancet paper and in relation to individual children, the panel’s overall conclusion that Professor Walker-Smith was guilty of serious professional misconduct was flawed…The panel’s determination cannot stand. I therefore quash it.”

Professor Walker-Smith was Andrew Wakefield’s co-author on a highly controversial study published in the medical journal The Lancet in 1998. Most of the controversy stemmed from the reporting by the co-authors that many of the parents in the study claimed that their children regressed into autism after receiving the MMR vaccine.

For parents of children with autism, this whole mess has always been a bit of a head-scratcher. The Lancet study’s conclusion that children with autism suffer from bowel disease is something any autism parent could easily confirm, and MMR, by far, has been the vaccine most commonly cited by parents as a trigger for a regression into autism. In my travels, I have heard the same story from parents about MMR leading to regression thousands of times.

In Britain, The General Medical Council is in charge of licensing and regulating doctors. Their 2010 “trial” of Andrew Wakefield and his colleagues was the longest in GMC history, lasting 217 days, and concluded by revoking the medical licenses of Dr. Andrew Wakefield and Prof Walker-Smith. At the time, Dr. Wakefield spoke of the injustice that Judge Mitting has now confirmed:

"It seemed to me that they had come to this decision a long time ago, long before the evidence was fairly heard. This is the way the system deals with dissent. You isolate, discredit and provide an example to other doctors and scientists not to get involved in this kind of thing. That is examining questions of vaccine safety."  

Now what? If the foundation of the proof that the MMR does not trigger autism is crumbling, what in the world are parents supposed to believe? If Professor Walker-Smith is not guilty on all charges, will Dr. Wakefield be next? The Canary Party’s press release explains:

“While John Walker-Smith received funding to appeal the GMC decision from his insurance carrier, his co-author Andrew Wakefield did not — and was therefore unable to mount an appeal in the high court. This year, however, Dr. Wakefield, who now conducts his research in the US, has filed a defamation lawsuit against Brian Deer, Fiona Godlee and the British Medical Journal for falsely accusing him of ‘fraud.’ The suit is currently underway in Texas, where Wakefield now lives.”

Continue reading "Editorial by Jenny McCarthy: MMR Doctor Exonerated—Who’s Guilty Now?" »

“Something New Was Coming”: Walker-Smith, Wakefield and the Real Narrative Behind the Lancet Paper

Dawn

By Dan Olmsted

Now that Professor John Walker-Smith has been cleared of charges brought against him by Britain’s General Medical Council – with an admonition by the appeals judge that such a travesty must never happen again – his testimony can be called something important:

The truth.

When he was just a witness trying to defend himself, up against an aggressive prosecution, Walker-Smith testified for many days about how he treated the 12 children who came to make up the Lancet medical journal case series, published in 1998. In great detail, he explained how the children were referred to him; what he and his colleagues discovered, and what they decided to do about it.

Constantly urged to speak up and slow down, Walker-Smith, now in his 70s and long-retired, was vigorous in his defense of his treatment of the children and the accuracy of the Lancet paper he co-authored.

His testimony – now affirmed by the appeals judge as those of an honest and experienced practitioner whose medical license has been restored – demolishes many of the myths perpetrated about the Lancet paper. Those myths, promulgated first by Brian Deer at the Murdoch Sunday Times of London, and then by the British Medical Journal and its editor, Dr. Fiona Godlee, elevated co-author Dr. Andrew Wakefield to an all-powerful manipulator of the children’s case histories.

Wakefield falsely claimed the children were consecutively referred, so the myth went; he turned unremarkable childhood bowel problems (“diarrhea,” in Deer’s sneering dismissal) into some sort of scary new disease; he claimed the children were autistic when most had no such diagnosis; he ordered invasive medical procedures solely to serve his own research needs; and he finessed the timing of the MMR shot to suggest it might have triggered the symptoms, in one case even putting the shot before the symptoms, not after where it belonged. (It’s important to remember that Walker-Smith was the treating physician, Wakefield the researcher who was collecting data.)

As the BMJ said in its own press release about its January 2010 allegations: “In an editorial, Dr Godlee, together with deputy BMJ editor Jane Smith, and leading paediatrician and associate BMJ editor Harvey Marcovitch, conclude that there is ‘no doubt’ that it was Wakefield who perpetrated this fraud. They say: ‘A great deal of thought and effort must have gone into drafting the paper to achieve the results he wanted: the discrepancies all led in one direction; misreporting was gross.’” (Earlier this year, Wakefield sued the BMJ, Godlee and Deer for defamation. Our series “An Elaborate Fraud” is addressing the fraud allegations.)

What follows is a very small sampling of Walker-Smith’s own words, words that speak eloquently in his own defense and, inevitably, to the veracity of such claims about the paper and its other key author, Andrew Wakefield.

Q. “Professor, I want to ask you again about a phrase which you have used in your evidence in dealing with correspondence, and the phrase is, “clinical need”. What do you mean when you use the term, “clinical need”?

A. Well that is basically that a child has got a problem and we need to find an answer to why the child has a problem, and that means that there is a need to indicate investigations in a child. If a child has got significant gastrointestinal symptoms, a pattern suggesting a particular disease, we then try and find out what is wrong with the child. A child who is diagnosed with something and some problem is continuing, the clinical need is to find the appropriate treatment for that.

Q. In relation to the 12 children in the Lancet paper, … on what basis did your department investigate these children?

A. We investigated them exactly on that basis of clinical need. These children had symptoms and signs. We did not know what they were due to. We undertook a series of investigations to find out what was the problem with the child and there were outcomes from these investigations and they came in the traditional way. We made a diagnosis and eventually, where it was appropriate we gave treatment. …

What is quite astonishing about this review of children is the high evidence of abnormality. In suspected Crohn's disease  [another GI disease]… we had a lower incidence of abnormality. Here we have mucosal abnormality in 47 of 50 children investigated with the autistic spectrum [the first 12 comprised the Lancet series], which almost suggests that this could be a feature of autism per se, although these are children all with bowel problems.

The children were all investigated specifically and exclusively by clinical means to determine whether bowel inflammation was present that could then be appropriately treated. …

Q. From your evidence, and indeed it is borne out by the documentation, that the early cases that you saw of the children who became the patients reported in The Lancet, you started with the premise that they might have classical IBD [inflammatory bowel disease], that they might have Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis?

A. Indeed, we did. … My whole focus and I believe my colleagues’, was first, “Did these children have Crohn’s disease”. Things change, as we have heard, as time went on.

Q. As time went on, and you were not encountering Crohn’s disease, what did you understand to be the condition or the problem that you were encountering? If it was not Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis, what did you believe that you were finding?

A. Just like many times in my career before, we were finding a new disorder. … We were beginning to see a new syndrome, fairly clear features of children presenting with diarrhoea, very often abdominal pain which often was not diagnosed by other doctors. Sometimes [that] was because of the children not speaking and the fact that screaming and other manifestations were not obvious. [Those] were the chief symptoms. Then, as we found, constipation or, more appropriately in some ways, faecal loading or certainly something interfering with gut transit was a feature as well. There is a characteristic symptom pattern.

Then, rather more remarkably in a way, there was a remarkable homogeneity in the histopathology [microscopic examinations]. It is a subtle pathology, the cardinal features being particularly ileal lymphoid nodular hyperplasia [swollen lymph nodes], very often colonic lymphoid nodular hyperplasia, and a general increase in inflammatory cells in the lamina propria, and there was evidence of acute events with cryptitis and abscess formation from time to time. It was an entity not so different from an adult practice called microscopic colitis, but clearly in the context of autism we felt something new was coming, and that is the motivation, of course, for us clinicians to feel that it was appropriate for Andy Wakefield to take the lead, and write these features for publication.

Q. Having gone through the histology reports, the synthesis of those reports in the histology meetings, it is clear that there are abnormalities there ---?

A. Yes.

Q. --- which you identify as abnormalities and explain why?

A. Yes.

Q. But they are not particularly florid?

A. No.

Q. They are not, as you accept, either Crohn’s or ulcerative colitis?

A. That is true.

Continue reading "“Something New Was Coming”: Walker-Smith, Wakefield and the Real Narrative Behind the Lancet Paper" »

Autism Media Channel From London in John Walker Smith GMC Appeal Win

Live from London today on the Autism Media Channel.

Prof Walker-Smith Cleared and the Beginning of the End for Allegations Against Andrew Wakefield

Red arrows

By John Stone

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.

Quashing of GMC Findings Against Prof Walker-Smith

John-MittingCryshame parents welcome with immense relief the end of the eight year ordeal of Prof John Walker-Smith and the quashing of all substantive charges against him in the High Court, and wish him their heartfelt congratulations at finally clearing his name.

In an unflamboyant 70 page judgment Sir John Mitting (see photo) was unable to establish any reasoning behind the GMC's findings, relating either to the ordering of inappropriate investigative procedures on children, or to the claim that the controversial 1998 Wakefield Lancet paper (of which Prof Walker-Smith was senior author) was based a research protocol 172-96 which the GMC further alleged to be funded by the Legal Aid Board rather than an "early report" reviewing the cases of patients seen entirely on the basis of clinical need, as stated. These allegations, which were originally made against Prof Walker-Smith (as well as Dr Andrew Wakefield and Prof Simon Murch) by journalist Brian Deer and Liberal-Democrat politician Evan Harris in the Sunday Times in 2004, have now been shown to be completely unfounded.

Continue reading "Quashing of GMC Findings Against Prof Walker-Smith" »

Read the Full UK Court Decision in John Walker Smith MMR Autism Appeal

British lawThank you to our friends at Child Healthy Safety for providing the full Court decision at their site.

English Court Exonerates MMR/Autism Doctor – UK General Medical Given Sound Thrashing

Here is the full judgement of the court today: Neutral Citation Number: [2012] EWHC 503 (Admin) Case No: CO/7039/2010 IN THE HIGH COURT OF JUSTICE QUEEN'S BENCH DIVISION ADMINISTRATIVE COURT Royal Courts of Justice Strand, London, WC2A 2LL 07/03/2012 B e f o r e : MR JUSTICE MITTING ____________________ Between: PROFESSOR JOHN WALKER-SMITH Appellant [...]

Read the full Decision at Child Health Safety

 

General Medical Council Response to Successful Appeal of Professor John Walker-Smith

General Medical Council07 Mar 2012

Responding to the ruling Niall Dickson, the Chief Executive of the General Medical Council said:

We will now study the detailed judgement carefully to see what lessons we can learn from this complex case as we continue to reform our fitness to practise work.

Niall Dickson, the Chief Executive of the GMC

‘Today, Mr Justice Mitting has overturned the decision to find Professor Walker-Smith guilty of serious professional misconduct. We will now study the detailed judgement carefully to see what lessons we can learn from this complex case as we continue to reform our fitness to practise work.

'The immediate effect of this decision is that Professor Walker-Smith is now a fully registered medical practitioner.

Continue reading "General Medical Council Response to Successful Appeal of Professor John Walker-Smith" »

Professor John Walker Smith Exonerated in Autism MMR Case

Walker-smith.jpg.displayThe following is an announcement from JABS .

Recent Age of Autism stories on the appeal include: The Appeal of Prof John Walker-Smith Against the United Kingdom General Medical Council (Wakefield Case) and The Walker-Smith Appeal, the British Media and the Boseley Problem.  More to follow.  This from JABS:

The GMC's massive abuse of process

The welcome decision to exonerate Prof. Walker-Smith is a clear indication that the GMC's case against the Royal Free doctors was manufactured to discredit any association between bowel disease, autism conditions and some of the parents' reported link to the MMR vaccine. The allegations levelled at Prof. Walker-Smith and the Royal Free team now have to be viewed with total scepticism as nothing more than a witch hunt by vested interests at the highest level in Government, media and the pharmaceutical industry.

This decision shows that:

1. The 1998 Lancet paper was an early report of cases seen in consecutive order on the basis of clinical need and nothing whatever to do with the separate Legal Aid Board funded project.

2. The children reported in the 1998 Lancet paper were very ill and did warrant serious clinical investigation and the investigations conducted were entirely appropriate for the children's needs.

3. The allegations of fraud based on this misconstruction, propagated by journalist Brian Deer, politician Evan Harris, the Murdoch press and the British Medical Journal (and rubberstamped by the GMC) are therefore also unfounded.

The decision vindicates Prof. Walker-Smith (one of two world pioneers of paediatric gastroenterology) after years of false allegations, which supports the ethicality of the Royal Free research and the integrity of the much disputed 1998 Lancet paper. The children were genuinely sick and properly investigated. 

Very serious questions arise about the basis of this prosecution:

a. We have to ask why this has happened? 

b. Was Prof. Walker-Smith unfairly targetted simply as a means to discredit Dr. Wakefield? 

Continue reading "Professor John Walker Smith Exonerated in Autism MMR Case" »

The Walker-Smith Appeal, the British Media and the Boseley Problem

Sarah BoseleyBy John Stone

Sarah Boseley (centre in the photo) is the senior Guardian newspaper journalist who wrote on the occasion of the UK General Medical Council’s findings against Dr Andrew Wakefield and his colleagues Prof  John Walker-Smith and Prof Simon Murch in January 2010:

"Opinion is divided in the medical establishment on the wisdom of pursuing Wakefield – and particularly his colleagues who played a lesser role in the drama – at the GMC. Some say there was a clear case to answer and that the GMC had no other option but others believe that no good can come of it."

What Boseley omitted to do as a decent journalist and a competent reporter was to tell her readership what the medical establishment was worried about. And what they were worried about may be by now coming back round to haunt both the medical establishment itself and the media, although no doubt damage limitation measures are already being put in a state of readiness.  The spectre came in the form of a UK Press Association report of Prof Walker-Smith’s High Court appeal misleadingly entitled ‘MMR row doctor decision was “fair”’  . However, underneath the headline the story begins to hint at the real matter:

“The decision to strike off an eminent doctor over the MMR jab controversy has been defended at the High Court as "just and fair - not wrong".

“The General Medical Council (GMC) admitted to a judge that "inadequate reasons" may have been given by a disciplinary panel that found Professor John Walker-Smith guilty of serious professional misconduct. Those reasons related to conflicts over expert evidence.

“But Joanna Glynn QC, appearing for the GMC, said: "In spite of inadequate reasons it is quite clear on overwhelming evidence that the charges are made out."

“Professor Walker-Smith is asking Mr Justice Mitting at London's High Court to rule that he was denied a fair hearing. On the fourth day of his challenge, the judge said that the case had been "complex and difficult from the start - it greatly troubles me".”

At stake in the hearing are essentially two issues: whether Prof Walker-Smith acted beyond his brief as a clinician in the care of the 12 children in the much disputed Lancet paper, and whether the paper had anything to do – as alleged – with the protocol (identified with Royal Free Hospital ethical approval 172-96) for a Legal Aid Board funded paper, or was just as the paper itself stated an “early report” on 12 children seen and investigated on the basis of clinical need. This problem has been perpetually hinted at but never clearly explained in the British media – we will call it for convenience “the Boseley problem” though it is very much the problem of other journalists too.

Following the allegations by journalist Brian Deer and doctor MP Evan Harris in 2004 that the Wakefield Lancet paper had been commissioned and paid for by the UK Legal Aid Board the first apparent dissent to appear was in an award winning article by Dr Ben Goldacre ‘Don't Dumb Me Down' , the son of a leading government epidemiologist and Oxford University professor, Michael J. Goldacre.  Goldacre junior wrote in September 2005:

“Now, even though popular belief in the MMR scare is - perhaps - starting to fade, popular understanding of it remains minimal: people periodically come up to me and say, isn't it funny how that Wakefield MMR paper turned out to be Bad Science after all? And I say: no. The paper always was and still remains a perfectly good small case series report, but it was systematically misrepresented as being more than that, by media that are incapable of interpreting and reporting scientific data.”

Continue reading "The Walker-Smith Appeal, the British Media and the Boseley Problem" »

Do Researchers Deserve Freedom or Career Demolition? Long Beach Party for a Cause.

HyattDo you believe in the right of medical researchers  to formulate a hypothesis and publish papers and studies, even if the subject matter is controversial?   Given the state of pharmaceutical company influence in American politics and public health, and the abysmal state of actual American health, research freedom and the safety it ensures is more important than ever.

Dr. Andrew Wakefield has filed a defamation lawsuit against the British Medical Journal, Dr. Fiona Godlee, (editor) and journalist Brian Deer, who have been at the forefront of the media murder, burial and continued exhumation for more desecration of his reputation.  By supporting him at a fundraising party in Long Beach next month, you are supporting the right for other researchers to look at the safety and side effects of every drug, medical device and product on the market today - and those foisted upon us all tomorrow. 

When:  Friday, March 2, 7:00 - 10:30pm                                                                                       
Where: Hyatt Regency, 200 South Pine Avenue, Long Beach, CA
Attire: Casual                   

Come mix, mingle, eat and drink with old friends and new, along with leaders in both the autism and health freedom communities.  This is sure to be a unique and special evening that you won't want to miss.

Attendees include: Andy Wakefield, Dan Olmsted, Kim Stagliano, Ginger Taylor, David Lewis, Julian Whitaker, Robert Scott Bell and more!

Tickets are $100 in advance, $125 at the door. Seating is limited. Admission includes food, one drink ticket, and a gift bag valued at over $50. Dress California casual. Buy tickets online HERE (www.drwakefieldjusticefund.org), at the AutismOne booth at the Expo or at the door.

Dr. Wakefield Justice Fund

Hyatt Regency Long Beach

Health Freedom Expo

The Appeal of Prof John Walker-Smith Against the United Kingdom General Medical Council (Wakefield Case)

Walker-smith.jpg.displayOn Monday the appeal begins of Prof John Walker-Smith against the decisions of the GMC as one of the three doctors in the Wakefield case. It should be stressed that Prof Walker-Smith’s appeal is purely on his own behalf and that Andrew Wakefield was forced to withdraw from the appeal due to cost. A third doctor, Prof Simon Murch, was permitted by the GMC to return to work on the basis that he was only Prof Walker-Smith’s junior at the time.

A key issue at the GMC hearing was the prosecution claim that the Wakefield 1998 Lancet paper was in reality a study that had been commissioned by the UK Legal Aid Board relating to pending litigation over the MMR. The three doctors, on the other hand, contended that the projected LAB study was never performed, and that Lancet paper was “an early report” of cases seen on the basis of clinical need, as indeed it had stated. Paradoxically, the GMC panel also found the doctors to be guilty of breaching the terms of the LAB protocol in virtually every respect, instead of accepting the plausible evidence of the doctors that it was simply not the same paper. The panel found:

“The Panel has heard that ethical approval had been sought and granted for other trials and it has been specifically suggested that Project 172-96 was never undertaken and that in fact, the Lancet 12 children’s investigations were clinically indicated and the research parts of those clinically justified investigations were covered by Project 162-95. In the light of all the available evidence, the Panel rejected this proposition.”

However, the panel never elaborated on what evidence it was they were citing, and another problem was that the panel mis-described  ‘Project 162-95’ which was not a project at all but the ethical permission granted to Prof Walker-Smith to retain biopsy samples taken in the course of clinical routine for further scientific investigation, when he brought his clinic to the Royal Free Hospital in autumn 1995. Indeed, parents of the Lancet paper children had signed this ethical permission in the course of their children’s routine clinical investigation. Of course, if the panel had stated this openly before the assembled media in January 2010 they would certainly have had some further explaining to do, which may have been avoided by the ruse of calling 162-95 a “project”.

Continue reading "The Appeal of Prof John Walker-Smith Against the United Kingdom General Medical Council (Wakefield Case)" »

Open Letter to Sunday Times Editor John Witherow: ‘We wouldn’t do fishing’

WitherowBy John Stone

Yesterday the editor of The Times of London, James Harding, was forced to issue an apology over evidence he gave to the Leveson Inquiry into media standards in the UK, to a High Court judge, Mr Justice Eady (whose name will be known to regular AoA readers) and to a Mr Richard Horton (a policeman, not to be confused with editor the Lancet). Age of Autism now requests that the editor of The Times’s sister Murdoch newspaper, John Witherow, answer equally pertinent questions about his evidence.

Dear Mr Witherow,

Following the admission of your colleague James Harding that he had given erroneous evidence to the Leveson Inquiry I am writing regarding your statement in your oral evidence to Lord Leveson on 17 January 2012 that ‘We wouldn’t do fishing’. This statement would appear to be contradicted by the Sunday Times hired journalist, Mr Brian Deer, concerning the inception of his investigation of Andrew Wakefield. Deer stated in an article in British Medical Journal :

'For me the story started with a lunch. So many do. “I need something big,” said a Sunday Times section editor. “About what?” I replied. Him: “MMR?”'

The editor in question, Paul Nuki, was apparently the son of Prof George Nuki who sat on the Committee on Safety in Medicines in 1987  when a known-to-be defective version of the MMR vaccine, Pluserix, was being considered for license  . Pluserix was not withdrawn till 1992. The younger Nuki subsequently went on to manage the National Health Service’s main website, NHS Choices .

Equally anomalous was the fact that Deer, with the permission of the newspaper, interviewed two litigant members of the public under a false name, although they were told that he was from the Sunday Times . This may be because of an earlier “investigation” by Mr Deer into Margaret Best, whose son was damaged by DPT vaccine, however it is hard to see why this would have been necessary unless Mr Deer had an agenda which could not be fulfilled by another journalist using their own name. What was at stake, given that this was not an ordinary “under-cover” type investigation?

Continue reading "Open Letter to Sunday Times Editor John Witherow: ‘We wouldn’t do fishing’" »

Hacked Off Boss, Martin Moore, Sat on UK Government Panel with Editor who Hired Brian Deer

Martin moore NukiBy 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.

FoxMeanwhile, 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:-

Continue reading "Hacked Off Boss, Martin Moore, Sat on UK Government Panel with Editor who Hired Brian Deer " »

Sir Crispin Davis and James Murdoch No Longer on GSK Board

GskThe Wall Street Journal reports that James Murdoch, son of beleaguered media mogul Rupert Murdoch, whose empire is embroiled in scandal, has stepped down  from the GlaxoSmithKline board. See WSJ online HERE.  In addition, Sir Crispin Davis, former Chief Executive of Reed Elsevier, which owns The Lancet, which published the paper that included Dr. Andrew Wakefield's MMR information,  is leaving the board after a nine year tenure.

The heir to Rupert Murdoch’s media empire has quit the board of Britain’s biggest drugs company in the wake of the phone hacking scandal.

James Murdoch joined  GlaxoSmithKline less than two years ago.

He has come under fire from MPs who have questioned him about signing off out-of-court settlements to hacking victims without a full picture of what had gone on at the News of the World.

He was forced to deny misleading Parliament over the extent of his knowledge.

Glaxo said Mr Murdoch’s decision to turn his back on the £98,000 role was entirely his own.

Chairman Chris Gent said: ‘James has taken this decision to focus on his current duties as non-executive chairman of BSkyB and following his decision to re-locate to the United States as chairman and chief executive, international, of News Corporation.’

John Stone has written about both Murdoch and Davis and their proximity to the Dr. Andrew Wakefield MMR Lancet Paper BMJ topic.

James Murdoch Still Supported by GlaxoSmithKline
ran last July:

Lancet Boss Failed to Disclose Own Conflicts to Parliament While Denouncing Wakefield

Both posts run in full following the jump:

Continue reading "Sir Crispin Davis and James Murdoch No Longer on GSK Board" »

Jackie Fletcher of UK Vaccine Safety Group JABS Writes to BMJ About Wakefield Libel Suit

JabsYesterday BMJ posted some of a letter that Jackie wrote to the journal but we thought AoA readers might like the opportunity to real the whole thing. We mark in bold the passages left out in BMJ on-line

RE: Wakefield sues BMJ over MMR articles

Starting in February there will be an appeal against the GMC ruling by Professor John Walker Smith at the High Court in London and then a US Court appearance for Mr Deer, BMJ Editor Dr Godlee and the BMJ representatives to defend a libel action brought by Dr Wakefield sometime later this year (or maybe next). I trust that all claims/counter claims can be thoroughly tested with all the appropriate evidence being heard and supported by witnesses. I hope that these legal proceedings will help to expose those responsible at the highest level for one of the biggest medical scandals in history and those fighting the rearguard action to defend the MMR vaccine will be found out. The hounding of the co-authors of The Lancet paper has been a very disturbing but clever diversion which, in my opinion, was designed to distract attention from the main issue, the MMR disaster.

I just wish Mr Deer had used his considerable talents to hound the committee responsible for introducing a vaccine, brands of which had already been withdrawn in other countries for causing neurological problems. I wish Mr Deer had used his time and energy to expose the people responsible for allowing the continued use of MMR vaccines when children were reported to have suffered problems in the opening weeks of the MMR campaign back in 1988. I wish he had used his efforts to expose the inadequacies of the Government's yellow card scheme which has been ineffective since it began. Mr Deer was informed of this and much more but for some reason chose to investigate the one team of doctors who had raised a flag over the MMR and possible side effects.

Continue reading "Jackie Fletcher of UK Vaccine Safety Group JABS Writes to BMJ About Wakefield Libel Suit" »

In Memoriam Paul Foot: Private Eye in an Ethical Tangle Over MMR

Private-Eye-Golden-Satiricals-524389By John Stone

The editor of the British satirical journal Private Eye, Ian Hislop, told the UK’s Leveson Inquiry into media ethics on Tuesday concerning the MMR controversy:

"Yes, we got it wrong. I was advised by our MD not to pursue it and I should have listened to him. The story went on too long. Mea Culpa."

Private Eye’s columnist ‘MD’, otherwise known as TV presenter, comedian and doctor, Phil Hammond has close pharmaceutical connections and has campaigned (with ultimate success) through Private Eye and British Medical Journal for the Merck/Sanofi HPV vaccine Gardasil  to be preferred in the UK to GlaxoSmithKline’s Cervarix. Although this may not be known to Private Eye readers Hammond has disclosed in BMJ that he “has been paid to speak at dinners by many drug companies (including GSK and Sanofi Pasteur).” Sanofi are also partners with Merck in Europe: Merck, GSK and Sanofi Pasteur are the three former defendants in the MMR litigation. He also presided over a grand industry award ceremony in 2007, in part sponsored by the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry, in which the host journal, Scrip World Pharmaceutical News  - which caters for pharmaceutical industry executives - paid tribute to him in glowing terms:

“Those not up for an Award shared an enjoyable evening with the nominees, one that balanced business and pleasure for all concerned. Host Dr Phil Hammond, a writer, broadcaster and qualified GP, captured the mood with his light-hearted critique of the healthcare sector that the 750 guests enjoyed greatly. Dr Hammond is well known mainly in the UK, yet his often-provocative address successfully struck a chord with the Awards’ international audience. In particular, he sympathised with some of the difficulties facing the industry, especially in this era of reimbursement challenges. "I'm looking forward to the day when I can actually prescribe some of the drugs that win Awards," he told the audience. Julie Walters, CEO of MediaSpeak, and representative for shortlisted company Synosia, spoke for many when she said: “Our guests from the US loved the Awards, especially Dr Phil Hammond. Book that man for next year!””

Private Eye began to retreat from its support for MMR families after the death of its leading investigative reporter, Paul Foot, in 2004 and the no doubt increasing influence of Hammond. However, MD Hammond’s review of the science post GMC verdict in 2010 is less than convincing (Private Eye 5-18 February 2010). He cites four sources – including the notorious Madsen study - which do not tell a clear story either individually or collectively and which he does not appear to understand beyond the spin which has already been put on them.

Continue reading "In Memoriam Paul Foot: Private Eye in an Ethical Tangle Over MMR" »

Dr. Wakefield and the Problem of Pseudo-Courts

Kent legalBy Kent Heckenlively, Esq

The first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers. - Henry VI - Shakespeare

This line even got a laugh in Shakespeare's time.  But it's important to understand the context.  Henry VI was planning a revolution and didn't want the lawyers to slow him down.  If knocking off the lawyers is the sign of a planned revolution, then the pharmaceutical industry has done a pretty good job so far. 

Dr. Wakefield's complaint against the British Medical Journal, Brian Deer, and Fiona Godlee for defamation can be best understood as the first stirrings of a counter-revolution.

Let me back up and explain.

I think it's incredibly difficult to create a legal system which can successfully resist the various pressures put upon it.  That's why the creators of the Anglo-American justice system put such a premium on a system of checks and balances, instituted an advocacy system, and established rules of discovery.  They expected people to be flawed.  They expected undue pressures and prejudices to be placed upon the proceedings at some point.  They anticipated that people's opinions would inevitably color their judgments and tried to make adjustments.  They understood the truth was most likely to come out when both sides were able to present their strongest case.  You get to confront your accusers.  You get to put on your best witnesses.  The other side needs to divulge their darkest secrets. 

Continue reading "Dr. Wakefield and the Problem of Pseudo-Courts" »

Write to Hacked Off about Brian Deer and Evan Harris in Wakefield British Medical Journal Affair

Hacked-OffManaging Editor's Note: From the Hacked Off site:

Hacked Off was founded to campaign for a public inquiry into illegal information-gathering by the press and into related matters including the conduct of the police, politicians and mobile phone companies. Only a full public inquiry, we argued, could put the truth of the hacking scandal before the public and ensure that necessary lessons were learned. The summer revelations relating to Milly Dowler and others convinced the public and the political world of the need for such an inquiry and we did all we could to ensure that it was given powers to tackle all the issues effectively.

Now the inquiry is established and the terms of reference are fixed, Hacked Off will campaign for a new independent system that:

• Makes news outlets, editors and journalists properly accountable for what they publish
• Has the powers and the remit to do investigations into issues of public concern
• Has adequate, meaningful and proportionate sanctions and redress
• Is transparent about its process, funding and decisions
• Prevents the dominance of over-powerful media organisations
• Ensures transparency in dealings between politicians, the police, public servants and the media
• Provides adequate and accessible privacy protection
• Protects journalism that is in the public interest

We have asked them to investigate whether similar "hacking" has taken place in the Dr. Andrew Wakefield MMR British Medical Journal story that has lead to a lawsuit by Dr. Wakefield.  To date, no response.  

Write today to Hacked Off asking them to explain the presence of former Liberal-Democrat Member of Parliament Evan Harris as an advisor to their organisation and asking for their support over Brian Deer’s MMR investigation before the UK’s Leveson Inquiry. Write to Hacked Off founders Martin Moore (martin.moore@mediastandardstrust.org) director of Media Standards Trust and journalist Brian Cathcart (B.Cathcart@kingston.ac.uk) as well as Thais Portilho-Shrimpton the organisation’s employee at the Inquiry (thais@hackinginquiry.org).

Please use the form letter below.

Martin Moore, Director Media Standards Trust and Hacked Off

Dear Mr Moore,

Continue reading "Write to Hacked Off about Brian Deer and Evan Harris in Wakefield British Medical Journal Affair" »

Autism Parents Respond to Dr. Andrew Wakefield's Libel Writ Against The British Medical Journal

CryshameCryShame Monday 9 January, 2012 UK

Almost a year after the British Medical Journal first charged Dr Andrew Wakefield with scientific fraud on 5 January 2011, Wakefield has filed a suit against the Defendants, the BMJ, its editor Dr Fiona Godlee and investigative journalist Brian Deer who wrote the BMJ article. The article, published in the Lancet in 1998, claimed that Wakefield falsified the findings of a small case series of 12 autistic child patients treated for bowel problems at the Royal Free Hospital in the mid-1990s.

Wakefield has now hit back in a suit  claiming Deer’s article is defamatory in accusing Wakefield of ‘fixing’ the case study and using ‘bogus data’. Deer’s article was accompanied by an editorial from Dr Godlee saying the Lancet paper was ‘an elaborate fraud’

In his deformation defamation suit Wakefield states that Deer’s charges of fraud are false in offering a “re-analysis” of the medical records, many of which, the suit claims, “the Defendants know were not in the possession of or used by Dr Wakefield” [see http://www.courthousenews.com/2012/01/04/BritMedJ.pdf].The suit charges Godlee, Deer and others at the BMJ of using “the BMJ to launch an unprecedented personal attack against a doctor who was part of a group of well-respected physicians that presented a case study that simply suggested there might be a connection between the MMR vaccine ... and autism and that suggested that further research is warranted”.

CryShame is a group of parents many of whom saw their children succumb to autism and bowel disease following the MMR. We applaud Wakefield’s decision to challenge Godlee and Deer’s claims against him and hope from the bottom of our heart that he receives justice.

Continue reading "Autism Parents Respond to Dr. Andrew Wakefield's Libel Writ Against The British Medical Journal" »

Whistleblower Scientist Accuses British Medical Journal of Institutional Research Misconduct

Actions of BMJ Editor and Reporter “More Tabloid News than Science” According to Dr. David Lewis, and “a Genuine Threat to Public Health”

WhistleWASHINGTON, D.C., Jan. 9, 2012 (SEND2PRESS NEWSWIRE) -- Dr. David Lewis, internationally known whistleblower and respected expert on institutional fraud, released a report today calling for a formal investigation into the practices of the British Medical Journal (BMJ), and specifically into the actions of its editor, Dr. Fiona Godlee, and Brian Deer, a reporter she hired to write a series of articles which appeared in the journal beginning on January 4, 2011.

The BMJ articles accuse Dr. Andrew Wakefield of committing scientific fraud in a 1998 Lancet publication he co-authored that brought global attention to a link many parents and physicians suspect may exist between autism and children who are genetically predisposed to adverse reactions from the Measles/Mumps/Rubella (MMR) vaccine.

The BMJ, Deer, and Godlee alleged that Wakefield fabricated a diagnosis of colitis in most of the 12 children described in The Lancet article — calling Wakefield’s work an "elaborate fraud" intended to create an "MMR scare" — so Wakefield could profit from a patent related to his research.

“Documents recovered from Dr. Wakefield's files during my investigation at the National Whistleblowers Center (NWC) - www.researchmisconduct.org - reveal that a pathologist associated with the study, Dr. Andrew Anthony, interpreted a number of the children's biopsies as evidence of colitis,” explained Dr. Lewis. “Altogether, the evidence contained in Wakefield's files suggested to me that the BMJ's fraud theory was more tabloid news than science.”

According to documents Lewis filed with Sir John Tooke, Vice-Provost for Health at the University College London (UCL) where The Lancet study was done, BMJ Editor Godlee responded to the Lewis revelations by “cherry-picking the evidence and coming up with a grand conspiracy theory involving ‘institutional research misconduct’. Alleged fraudsters now include University College London (UCL) administrators, the Royal Free Hospital, and all 13 co-authors of the Lancet study.”

UCL President Malcolm Grant notified Lewis that, because his charges were “so serious,” he urged Dr. Lewis to inform Dr. Godlee and Deer “at the earliest opportunity.”

Lewis also reports that Godlee has previously acknowledged the BMJ Group receives funding from the two manufacturers of the MMR vaccine, Merck and GlaxoSmithKline, and has testified in a Parliamentary inquiry that peer-reviewed medical journals are “the marketing arm of the pharmaceutical industry.” Lewis added: “Apparently scientists who question certain government policies and industry practices can be destroyed for a price. If so, this kind of tabloid science poses a genuine threat to public health.”

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Dr. Wakefield Sues Brian Deer and BMJ's Fiona Godlee

Dr. Andrew Wakefield suit headshotBy  Ian Sample of The Guardian UK.

Andrew Wakefield, the doctor who was struck off the medical register after triggering a health scare linking autism to the MMR vaccine, is suing the editor-in-chief of the British Medical Journal for defamation.

In a complaint filed to a district court in Texas, lawyers acting for Wakefield claim that articles, editorials and other statements that appeared in the BMJ were "false and make defamatory allegations" about the doctor.

The lawsuit names Fiona Godlee, the BMJ's editor-in-chief, and the British investigative journalist Brian Deer, who has covered the controversy over the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine, which led to a drop in MMR vaccination rates to dangerous levels.

Documents filed with the court say the action arises in part from the publication in January 2011 of an article by Deer in the BMJ titled "Secrets of the MMR scare: how the case against the MMR vaccine was fixed" and an accompanying editorial by Godlee.

It is alleged that the articles accuse Wakefield "of fraud and of fraudulently and intentionally manipulating and falsifying data and diagnoses". The case has been filed in Austin, Texas, where Wakefield now lives, because the allegations concern his work there.

In a statement, the BMJ and Deer said they awaited formal service of the papers, but stood by the articles and had instructed lawyers to defend the claim vigorously.   Read the full article at The Guardian UK.

Evan Harris Distances Himself From Brian Deer But His Position Remains Untenable

Hacked-OffBy John Stone

“… both Harris and Hacked Off/MST have to do a lot more to clear the air, if by now it is possible. In the first place Hacked Off/MST have accepted a false assurance from Harris, and both have to make clear their views on Brian Deer’s investigation, the ethical deficiencies of which have been thoroughly drawn to their attention. Their present actions pose more questions than they answer, including what exactly they are doing at the Leveson Inquiry”

I earlier today received the following characteristically tight-lipped communication Martin Moore of Media Standards Trust/Hacked Off

'Dear Mr Stone,

'Please see the statement below:

'The Hacked Off campaign have been reassured that Dr Evan Harris has never engaged in breaching patients' confidentiality nor was he involved in Brian Deer's MMR investigation. As such we see no reason to believe Dr Harris’ position as an advisor to the Hacked Off campaign has been compromised and he will continue to work closely with us.

'With best regards,

Martin Moore'

There is no historical doubt that Harris worked with Deer on his investigation, and Harris himself has previously boasted about it. It is hard to see how MST/Hacked Off could have accepted his word. Richard Horton, editor of the Lancet wrote in his book ‘MMR Science and Fiction’ of the presence of Harris with Deer in the Lancet offices when Deer made his initial allegations recalling (p.3):

“The tension in that earlier meeting had been heightened by the shadowy presence of Dr Evan Harris, a Liberal Democrat Member of Parliament.”

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BBC Trustees Stand By Groundless Insinuations Against Andrew Wakefield in Radio 4 'Science Betrayed ' Programme

BBCBy John Stone

The decision of the BBC's Editorial Standards Committee - whose six members are also Corporation trustees - fails to take account of emerging facts, and hides behind Brian Deer's flawed and logically untenable account of events. We publish UK Editor John Stone's final submission to the committee.

I am responding to the document from Part 4... It is important to note that Mr Deer’s claims have unravelled very substantially in the past 5 weeks as the result of a report on Nature News, and further correspondence in BMJ Rapid Responses including statements made by the BBC’s expert advisor on this complaint, Prof Ingvar Bjarnason, by BMJ editor Fiona Godlee, by Brian Deer himself and by Dr Amar P Dhillon, the senior histopathologist co-author of the Lancet paper. These events demonstrate beyond reasonable doubt the original recklessness and unfairness of the programme in March.

Point 1

I note that progress with the University College London Inquiry stalled after the programme, a source of frustration to the editor of the BMJ at least, who complained to the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee [1].

The ESC’s attitude to Conflict of Interest is dangerously whimsical: it leaves the BBC free to waive concern about people it likes and crucify people it does not. Unless they decide on objective, citable consistent criteria they will make arbitrary decisions. Anything else is touchy-feely, self-referential nonsense.

I also note that the committee failed to take account of evidence I provided that Andrew Wakefield had embarked in the documentable shape of published papers on “a wider study to replicate findings in the Lancet paper” so it is quite hard to know what Prof Pepys was complaining about. Some people want these papers withdrawn, but they are quite certainly there and their existence factually contradicts Prof Pepys’s claim in its present form.

Point 2

I refer to my previous comment in relation to CoI.

Point 3

Once again this is an arbitrary judgement. It is saying that Mr Deer is such a fine person and dedicated journalist that normal ethical constraints do not apply in his case. But it has already been conceded that his unusual arrangement with the GMC was not explained in the programme (which also reflects on the ethics of the GMC). I note that the Committee now cite his current disclosure in BMJ, which also does not explicitly describe the arrangement, but it is also inconsistent on the part of the ESC because it is argued elsewhere in the document that what may have been said in the BMJ is no direct concern of the BBC. Indeed, it is evidently the BBC’s choice not to disclose this embarrassing matter. There is, nevertheless, a serious inconsistency running throughout the response that one minute the BBC is leaning on BMJ, the next saying that programmes claims stand on their own (though they plainly don’t).

Point 4

A discussion is obviously not fair in the context of a programme which persistently gives more weight to one person than another (and by the way fails to get to the bottom of what is being discussed). I note the ESC’s concluding remarks:

“The committee said that it was clear that it was the reliance of Mr Wakefield (Dr??) on the red books as of evidence of “the child’s prior normality” which Mr Deer was criticising. Accordingly, the Committee did not uphold the complaint on this point.”

This is both a false alternative and an historically unfounded insinuation: as well as the red books Dr Wakefield was reliant on GP correspondence, the medical histories taken by Prof Walker-Smith, and the parent consultations with the neurologist Dr Harvey and the psychiatrist Dr Berelowitz. While this may be Mr Deer’s opinion it shows no respect for factual accuracy. It is not correct and it is not fair comment.

Point 5

I quote:

“The Committee noted for the most part, allegations made in the programme had been challenged in the course of the GMC tribunal”.

This is a false statement. These allegations first saw the light of day in a Sunday Times article by Mr Deer in February 2009, and were repeated in BMJ in January 2011. The defence at the GMC hearing which began in 2007 never had to address these allegations.

“The committee note that the tribunal has the same standing as a court of law: and its findings on fact were entitled to be relied upon by the producers of the programme.”

However, all the findings that were remotely relevant to the programme are still under appeal by Prof Walker-Smith, and this was not said, and the absence of any warning regarding this is surely a serious lapse of procedure on the part of the Corporation.

With regard to the evidence of Susan Davies, it is evident that what she is saying is the results of the biopsies were both consistent with significant inflammation and with normality. I note that after the recent intervention of Dr David Lewis as reported in Nature News Prof Bjarnason, Dr Godlee and even Mr Deer had to retreat substantially [1]:

“But he (Bjarnason) says that the forms don't clearly support charges that Wakefield deliberately misinterpreted the records. "The data are subjective. It's different to say it's deliberate falsification," he says.

“Deer notes that he never accused Wakefield of fraud over his interpretation of pathology records…

“Fiona Godlee, the editor of the BMJ, says that the journal's conclusion of fraud was not based on the pathology but on a number of discrepancies between the children's records and the claims in the Lancet paper…”

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The War on Science – The British Medical Journal & Dr. Wakefield

BMJ GibberishBy Ed Arranga

In January 2011, the British Medical Journal (BMJ) published a blistering 3-part series (here, here, here) and an editorial (here) accusing Dr. Wakefield of committing fraud in his study of bowel disease. 

The tone is harsh, the articles lengthy and involved, the findings absolute, and the judgment final. Dr. Wakefield is a fraud. To top it off, it’s published in the British Medical Journal – one of the UK’s most prestigious journals. There’s only one problem. It’s a manufactured piece of gibberish with no basis in fact.

Dr. Wakefield is being attacked in an attempt to suppress science – specifically his Lancet study (here) that was published in 1998. Wakefield found bowel disease in children with autism spectrum disorder and raised questions about the safety of the MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella) vaccine. The study is valid and scientifically sound.

The British Medical Journal’s campaign to discredit Dr. Wakefield may be the greatest suppression of science episode ever attempted. It is estimated that over 150 million Americans were duped into believing the claims made against him.

The attacks on Dr. Wakefield are a crude reminder that there has always been conflict between those who serve science and those who want to censor it. Science advances at a cost, and the British Medical Journal has shown they are willing to pay any price – to sacrifice science itself – in order to declare victory on the battlefield of autism and vaccines.

Dr. Wakefield is a man of honor, principle, and integrity. He came to the US in 2004, as many scientists do, to continue his research without fear of reprisals. Seven years after leaving the UK – and 13 after his Lancet study – the British Medical Journal pursued Wakefield across the Atlantic in a campaign to silence him once and for all. Science be damned.

The British Medical Journal misjudged Dr. Wakefield’s commitment to science and picked a fight with the wrong guy.

Why Pick a Fight Based on a Lie?

Culture is a tricky thing. Did the British Medical Journal think it would just blow into town and tell a lie so big no one would notice? Did the editors seriously believe the same type of tabloid journalism that is standard practice in the UK would find a welcome home in the US? 

Obviously they did. The allegations, the character assassination, the sensational overblown trumpeting of “Wakefield the fraud,” and the claim of unbiased investigative journalism had, after all, been spoon fed to the British, with nary a hitch. The British public had been duped. Why not the Americans?

To any student of Anglo-American history, this was a risky venture. Americans are fiercely independent – the British not so much. We don’t take kindly to other nations targeting Americans. Europe, on the other hand, is a swirling pot of nations, used to shooting at each other for centuries.

The greatest difference between the US and UK lies in how Americans fight to protect their freedoms. It’s a strange and somewhat dangerous concept to outsiders looking in. But it’s a value that shapes our thoughts and actions from cradle to grave.

We take our freedoms seriously, particularly the freedom of speech. The BMJ’s campaign to silence Wakefield flies in the face of what this country holds most dear.   

The British

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Seth Mnookin Boots Jake Crosby Out of Public Conference Chaired by Merck Exec

Given-the-boot
By Jake Crosby

Seth Mnookin blatantly lied about me again, this time at a public conference run by an organization that is chaired by a Merck vaccines executive. In short, I asked Mnookin a question during the Q/A period; he stopped me, accused me of disrupting the event, and falsely stated I had disrupted past events of his, whereupon security escorted me out.

It all happened on December 2, 2011 – my 23rd birthday – when I attended the “Research Ethics Book Group Lunch and Book Signing,” at the annual “Advancing Ethical Research Conference,” held by “Public Responsibility in Medicine and Research” (PRIMR). 

The book being discussed was “Panic Virus,” by Seth Mnookin, who fielded questions from the audience. He was originally scheduled to be physically present, but his daughter was born three weeks early the day before, so he held the discussion via Skype. The conference was listed under the “current speaking schedule” on his personal website.

When signing up in advance online, I was told the event was already full, so my name was placed on the waitlist. Nonetheless, enough people who successfully registered for the event did not show up, and I was allowed in without a registration badge after giving my name, saying that I was on the waitlist and also saying I was covering the event for a major autism news website. I was even told I could sit down at one of the tables and help myself to lunch.

In the lead up to the question and answer session, a sheet labeled “Questions for discussion” was handed out to all audience members, filled with some of the most loaded questions I’ve ever seen, one of which read:

According to Mnookin, Andrew Wakefield and the other players in the movement to link vaccines and autism succeeded in convincing so many people, despite overwhelming scientific evidence against such a link, because they played to the desperation and frustration of parents of autistic children. How, according to Mnookin, did the desperation and frustration of parents also allow Wakefield and other clinicians who “treated” autistic children – with multiple endoscopies and the like – to shield themselves from charges that they were engaged in bad science and unethical behavior?

Surprisingly, the conversations by some of the folks at my table seemed to run counter to the overarching message of the event. I overheard one person saying he always rejects flu shots. Another person remarked that if Seth Mnookin is so sure vaccines do not cause autism; he must have some alternate reason for the skyrocketing rate of the disorder. Except that he doesn’t.

Eventually, the screen at the conference turned on and up came Seth Mnookin’s face. He couldn’t see us; he could only hear us, but we could see and hear him. As soon as questions rolled around, I raised my hand, was called upon and got up to the microphone to ask the first question.

“Hi - Jake Crosby - congratulations,” I said, regarding his newborn daughter. I then proceeded to ask my question:

“With regard to Dr. Andrew Wakefield, given the new advancements within the past month, with Dr. David Lewis…”

Then – all of a sudden – the screen went black. The moderator said that we lost connection. Audience members then told me to switch microphones in case the one I was using didn’t work either.

Eventually, the audio returned. The moderator asked, “Seth, are you there?”

“Yes,” he said, “The last words I picked up were ‘given these new advancements…’” Then his face reappeared.

I later realized he probably disappeared from view in order to make a phone call. I then proceeded to ask how he can continue to accuse Dr. Wakefield of unethical research and bad science given the ongoing investigation by Dr. David Lewis – professional scientist with the National Whistleblower Center – who exonerated Wakefield of the pathology fraud allegations made by BMJ earlier this year, and stated the pathology results were consistent with what was in the Lancet paper, and also given that the expert pathologist – Dr. Amar Dhillon –  defended the results in a letter to the BMJ. But as I was finishing up, he cut me off.

“Okay, Jake, I’m going to stop you right there.”

“I just want to know how you can continue to accuse Dr. Wakefield of this.”

“We’ve talked before at my other events you’ve been to, and you’ve been into interrupting and disrupting.”

“I haven’t been disrupting; I was just asking a question.” (At the only event of Mnookin’s that I attended before this one,  I conversed with him afterwards. He even shook my hand – hardly a “disruption” of his “events.” But then again, accuracy is not Mnookin’s strong suit as he readily admits.)

“I never mentioned Andrew Wakefield in my plenary address,” he claimed, even though Dr. Andrew Wakefield was mentioned several times in the questions for discussion given out at the event.

During this exchange, I overheard some snickers from a few audience members. Then a woman came up to me, grabbed the microphone, aimed it down at the floor so I couldn’t speak into it and asked, “Can I see your badge, please?”

“I don’t have a badge, I was let in from the waitlist.” Jake boot

“You’re going to have to leave!”

I repeated what I told her, but it was no use. Apparently, you can’t ask Seth Mnookin a challenging question without a badge.

While she was escorting me out, Seth Mnookin proceeded to answer my question that he had just labeled disruptive of his event. I could make out bits and pieces of what he was saying:

“…he [presumably Dr. Lewis] is not an expert on bowel pathology…the BMJ evaluated the data and found there was nothing there…it doesn’t even matter if Wakefield acted unethically, he’s still wrong…”

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An Elaborate Fraud, Part 10: In Which the BMJ Suppresses the Truth About a Child’s Treatment and Recovery From Autism

Blanket Lancet

One of the 12 children on a doctor visit not long after the BMJ articles were published in January.

By Dan Olmsted

The British Medical Journal began its attack on Dr. Andrew Wakefield last January by telling the story of Child 11, one of the case histories Wakefield allegedly altered to manufacture "the appearance of a link" between the MMR shot and autism.

Contrary to Wakefield's claims, Child 11’s autism symptoms began before he got the shot, author Brian Deer wrote. The father, he said, was outraged by Wakefield’s "fraud.” Even the child’s autism diagnosis was questionable, Deer wrote, because it was solely based on parental “recall.” 

As we’ve shown in earlier articles, the BMJ was dead wrong on both counts – the shot did come before the symptoms, and the autistic regression that followed was all too real. Both facts were described and documented multiple times by outside doctors before the family got anywhere near Wakefield or the Royal Free Hospital in London, where he worked. They do not provide any basis to allege fraud or question Wakefield’s version of the child’s medical history.

There are three more critical facts about Child 11 – facts that contradict this “fraud” scenario -- that the BMJ suppressed:

The father did believe the MMR shot caused his son’s regression.

The child was treated accordingly.

And, according to the father, the child recovered.

“Our dedicated effort to save our son's life has been fruitful,” the father wrote Wakefield on January 7, 1997, when he first sought to have him evaluated at the Royal Free. “As a small child unable to communicate, he has now entered a normal kindergarten class with assistance of a tutor. He is quite intelligent and continues to progress, but is still fighting the [bowel] disease which we believe is viral, from the vaccine.”

Yes, from the vaccine. After the father saw how he had been portrayed in the BMJ, he said: "Mr. Deer’s article makes me appear irrational for continuing to believe that the MMR caused difficulties which predated its administration."

And how, exactly, did the child recover from what the father believed was a vaccine injury? The letter reports: “In March of 1994, we met with Dr. [name omitted] and his immunological panel of tests indicated an underlying immunodeficiency as you can see by his report. His suspicions of the MMR vaccine in my son's case are mentioned in his letter. He was immediately put on 400 mg/kg of IVIG every four weeks at [clinic name omitted], and he responded quite well to the treatment.”

IVIG is intravenous immunoglobulin, administered to boost antibody levels in immune deficient patients and, at high doses, to regulate autoimmune conditions.

The father took his son to another leading immunologist, who reported that his measles virus titer was above measurable limits. Workups by a third doctor revealed his son “was suffering from indeterminant inflammatory bowel disease.”

This was the apparent new syndrome the Royal Free doctors were treating and that Wakefield was investigating – indeterminate or non-specific inflammatory bowel disease and autistic regression, in most instances associated in time by parents or  doctors with the MMR shot. The father learned of the work at the Royal Free from his American doctors and was the first to fly his child across the Atlantic because he believed his son was showing the same pattern. The first case series, on 12 such children including Child 11, was published in The Lancet in 1998.

But this clear sequence – vaccination, illness, regression, chronic bowel inflammation, treatment, recovery – is nowhere to be found in the BMJ account of Child 11, even though Deer met with the father twice, in California and London, and also communicated with him via e-mail.

Absent, too, is the fact that Child 11 is now in college in California after graduating from high school with a 3.75 academic average.

The treatment the father cited, and the rationale for it, has been described in detail by the U.S. doctor who administered it. “A number of immunological abnormalities have been observed in patients with autism,” according to the text of comments he subsequently made at a meeting of an autism group. He said all the children he treated, which included child 11, had regressed after the MMR shot.

“Natural killer cells … that appear to play an important role in defense against virus infected cells and tumor cells are decreased both in numbers and functions in patients with autism. This deficiency may play a role in increased susceptibility to various infections that may in turn play a role in the pathogenesis of autism.”

He goes on to describe the use of IVIG in this context, at the 400 mg/kg dose the father cited. “IVIG has been used in a number of primiary immunodeficiency syndromes, and autoimmune and immunoinflammatory disorders including demyelinating polyneuropathy, multiple sclerosis, Guillain-Barre syndrome."

In his autistic patients, "The results of IVIG treatment show that a noticeable improvement, although to a variable degree, was observed in reciprocal social interaction, verbal and non-verbal communication, and repertoire of activity and interest in all children. One of these patients has been 'completely cured' and is attending regular school."

Deer had every opportunity to gather and report these crucial facts yet chose not to. Why? This more complete narrative would have contradicted his claims of fraud in the BMJ. You simply can’t have a child being treated for a presumed vaccine injury, and according to the father, recovering, if you’re trying to make the case that the shot came after the onset of regressive autism, that the sequence was manipulated by Wakefield, and that the father is outraged about the deception.

Instead, Deer spun a story using only fragments of the truth and, exploiting a typographical error in a discharge document, claimed that Wakefield faked the data on autistic regression and bowel disease.

Amazingly, multiplied by 12, such sleight-of-hand lies behind the entirety of the BMJ’s fraud claim. Speaking at the U.S. National Institutes of Health, BMJ Editor Fiona Godlee cited “multiple discrepancies” by Wakefield in the description of "inflammatory bowel problems, regressive autism, and the parental claim that MMR was the underlying cause. What these articles [in the BMJ] also say [is] that when those three things didn't come up trumps on the twelve children included, and the subsequent series of children, Andrew Wakefield altered the data to make those three things emerge."

Actually, in its treatment of Case 11, it was the BMJ that “altered the data to make those three things” disappear.

Continue reading "An Elaborate Fraud, Part 10: In Which the BMJ Suppresses the Truth About a Child’s Treatment and Recovery From Autism" »

Anderson Cooper 360 Writer/Producer Fails to Disclose Conflicts

AndersonBy Jake Crosby

Addendum: Five months before Dr. Wakefield's interview on AC360, Thomson Reuters announced that BMJ Group had selected Thomson Reuters' product, ScholarOne Manuscripts, as the peer review workflow management system for all of its journals.  The company press release put out by Thomson Reuters quotes the BMJ Group's publishing director, Peter Ashman, as saying “We are excited to expand our partnership with one of the world’s leading publishers...By serving all of the journals published by BMJ Group, our customizable and flexible ScholarOne Manuscripts will standardize the organization's review process, adding to its effectiveness and efficiency in journal administration.” This is a direct partnership between the Merck/GSK-funded BMJ Group and the Merck-managed employer of an AC360 writer/producer's husband. The reason for Anderson Cooper leading the US media to support the BMJ's sham allegations of fraud against Dr. Wakefield within hours of their publication should now be crystal clear.

The following is a letter I sent to CNN after the January 5th televised abuse of Dr. Andrew Wakefield by the network’s mascot, “Silver Fox”  Anderson Cooper, whose pale face regularly haunts the channel. I didn’t receive a response.

With  the BMJ’s prime example of Wakefield’s alleged misconduct proven false followed by the  collapse of the BMJ's fraud claim, it is especially timely that we revisit this abhorrent example of coverage by the media in light of its deafening silence. Whatever happened to “keeping them honest”? You know, “challenging authority and exposing corruption”?

Dear Anderson Cooper 360,

I am writing about your show on January 5th of this year in which Dr. Wakefield was repeatedly cut off, interrupted, berated and called a "liar" while Brian Deer was allowed free reign to bluff his way through his interview the next day. 

I hope you will understand that the conflicts of interest below thoroughly compromised your show's credibility, especially in light of the fact that Anderson Cooper was evidently not willing to read Dr. Wakefield's book. I hope he will be more willing to watch a lecture Dr. Wakefield gave at Brandeis University in which he spent the first 20 minutes addressing fraud allegations and thoroughly exposing what turned out to be Brian Deer's fraud. Every statement Dr. Wakefield makes is documented and verifiable. You owe it to your viewers to watch this video. 

The conflicts of interest on the January 5th show were especially serious in light of that fact that they were not disclosed on your program.

First, the BMJ - which alleges Dr. Wakefield committed fraud - is in partnership with Merck and GlaxoSmithKline - manufacturers of the MMR vaccine. Its editor-in-chief Fiona Godlee admitted the BMJ failed to disclose these connections even though they should have.(1)

Secondly, Brian Deer is a freelance reporter; he is not employed by The Sunday Times as he claimed in a related interview on your network . He was put on this story by an editor named Paul Nuki whose father George Nuki knowingly approved a dangerous vaccine in 1988 that caused meningitis. Brian Deer was assisted by MedicoLegal Investigations - a front group of the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry - and was the original complainant in the GMC hearing against Dr. Wakefield yet was allowed to continue to write about the story Deer created.(2)

Finally, to add to the litany of failures to disclose COIs on your program, a writer/producer for your show named Cate Vojdik is married to a medical reporter named Dr. Ivan Oransky.(3) 

Dr. Oransky is executive editor of Reuters Health - Thomson Reuters' CEO Thomas Glocer - Oransky's boss - is on the board of directors of Merck.(4) Oransky is also a longtime and major contributor to The Lancet, which retracted Dr. Wakefield's paper.(5) Dr. Oransky's father was a pediatrician who was personally responsible for vaccinating many children born between the years of 1972 and 1998.(6) The latest national prevalence estimates by the CDC show that children born in 1998 have an autism prevalence of 1 in 110.(7)  

Below is a link to the recent video of Dr. Wakefield's lecture at Brandeis University. Later in the lecture, Dr. Wakefield also shows that there is still evidence linking vaccines and autism - including from a CDC study claiming to show the exact opposite of all things. 

Dr. Andrew Wakefield at Brandeis University

I hope you will view this video of Dr. Wakefield's Brandeis lecture.

All the best,

Jake Crosby

Continue reading "Anderson Cooper 360 Writer/Producer Fails to Disclose Conflicts" »

Best of AofA: Brian Deer's Wakefield Soap Opera

Drama We first ran this post in the Spring of 2010. Given recent developments we thought we'd run it again for you. To read more from the prolific Martin Walker, who has followed and recounted the GMC Hearing from start to finish please visit Slingshot Productions or use the Google search box on the left for "Martin Walker."

By Martin J Walker MA.

Oh yes I’m the great pretender (ooh ooh)
Pretending that I’m doing well (ooh ooh)
My need is such I pretend too much
Oh yes I’m the great pretender (ooh ooh)
Adrift in a world of my own (ooh ooh)
Too real is this feeling of make believe
Too real when I feel what my heart can't conceal

Buck Ram[1]

With the growth of corporations and democracy there came
a vast growth in corporate propaganda as a means of defending
corporate interests against democracy.

Alex Carey[2]

Without a story to explain ourselves we are nothing.

Tariq Miah[3]

Speaking to a well regarded European writer the other day, I heard the words, 'But Deer came from nowhere, he is not a journalist of any note, he is not really a journalist is he?' hearing this and other remarks, it can only be described as unfortunate that neither those who question vaccine safety or those of us who have campaigned for vaccine damaged children have made no real attempt to investigate Brian Deer's contact with the pharmaceutical industry. On occasions I have been disturbed by the off-the-cuff allegations and ad hominem attacks made against Deer, this is not because he is not the most loathsome of characters but because without real investigations and properly constructed evidence we will never be able to free ourselves from the lingering foul smell which emanates from his presence in this conflict.

Although the rebuttal of Deer's latest two deceitful articles in the British Medical Journal (BMJ)[4] have been interesting, few of them have added any new information about Deer or shed light upon the relationship which has existed between him and the conglomerate that is now GlaxoSmithKline. I believe that the key to Deer's continuing pathological character assassination of Dr Andrew Wakefield lies principally in his relationship with the original drug company the Wellcome Foundation and its partnering Trust, before the Trust was made independent and the Foundation was amalgamated first with Glaxo, then eventually merged as GlaxoSmithKline (GSK).

I began my involvement with the parents of vaccine damaged children in 2006 knowing slightly more about Deer than many other people.[5] In 1993, I published 'Dirty Medicine: Science, big business and the assault on natural health'.[6] This book which took me five years to research and write told the story of the beginnings of the pharmaceutical, medical and allopathic lobby organisations in Britain and the US. These groups emerged in the late 1980s at the centre of the last great medical controversy over the Wellcome Foundations production and marketing of the drug AZT.

This conflict was perhaps even bigger than that presently being waged over vaccine damage. Brian Deer then writing for the Sunday Times, wrote two very critical articles about the safety of AZT and the lack of science that accompanied trials of the drug. The drug company, the Wellcome Foundation and it's massive grant giving partner, the Wellcome Trust, were powerful enough to rain relentless pressure on the Sunday Times and it's editor Andrew Neil to ensure that Deer was admonished for his radicalism and Deer appeared to be sent to the US for a period to cool off. Deer's return to the UK, appeared to coincide with a further authoritative attack on the Wellcome Empire, accompanied with a parallel attack on Septrin, the anti-bacterial a Wellcome drug that had caused many deaths and countless thousands of adverse reactions.

Continue reading "Best of AofA: Brian Deer's Wakefield Soap Opera" »