Best of from 2012.
UK's Leveson Inquiry plays cat and mouse with public interest over the Murdoch press investigation into MMR.
It has been said that vaccines are the greatest cause of coincidence known to man. What was extraordinary about the Leveson Inquiry was not only that all these people connected with the MMR affair re-emerged in connection with the Inquiry but also the way it kept returning to a defence of MMR as a safe product (which had nothing to do with its brief) and even with its first report which included an attack on Andrew Wakefield, while excluding concerns about the way the media had conducted themselves towards the MMR families and towards Wakefield and colleagues - a subject which easily did fall within its remit. (Note added May 2016).
By John Stone
When it comes to the MMR affair the UK’s inquiry into the conduct of the press and Rupert Murdoch’s News International media empire seems to have been biased, have hidden historical connections and to be anything but transparent. Four family members of vaccine damaged children who submitted evidence to the Inquiry have found themselves arbitrarily rebuffed at News International’s behest. Their concerns, based on publically available information, were:
- That Deer and the Sunday Times did not make clear in the newspaper that he had personally initiated the prosecution against Wakefield and colleagues with a series of complaints whilst continuing to report the GMC hearing
- That the Sunday Times/Times launched a new raft of articles against Wakefield following the announcement of the appointment of News International boss, James Murdoch, to the board of MMR manufacturers and defendants GlaxoSmithKline in February 2009
Faced with these important issues the Leveson Inquiry has simply chosen to draw a veil over the matter, while happily taking evidence that the press abused its role by reporting concerns about MMR safety in the first place. It is a remarkable and unhappy coincidence, therefore, that Lord Leveson and lead attorney for the Inquiry, Robert Jay QC, were both involved in blocking litigant families’ interests in the MMR proceedings.
Below is the joint statement of the four co-authors of the submission (which cannot be reproduced for reasons of confidentiality):
A key question of the UK Leveson Inquiry into press ethics is how independent will the inquiry be in the face of powerful press corporations such as News International and their media outlets. Set up last summer after revelations of a decade of phone hacking by the press, the Inquiry into the Culture, Practice and Ethics of the Press, chaired by Lord Justice Leveson, has come to be seen as a potential solution to unbridled press powers to intrude into private life. Whether it succeeds in establishing a new system of press regulation and legal rights against intrusion must await the publication of Leveson's report later this year. But our experience as four parents of autistic children who submitted a detailed account of the Sunday Times’ 7-year investigation into the 1998 Lancet paper by Dr Andrew Wakefield et al, demonstrates NI’s continuing power to influence the evidence submitted to the Inquiry and its agenda.