By John Stone
Following Andrew Wakefield’s powerful rebuttal of allegations by the Sunday Times and its journalist Brian Deer (HERE), its sister newspaper, The Times of London has been moved to retaliate with a defensive non-story by David Rose, ‘Case against Dr Andrew Wakefield, who linked MMR and autism, to cost over £1m’ (HERE.) The story does not mention Wakefield’s complaint.
After five years in which Times Newspapers have made all the running in trying to destroy Wakefield’s reputation they have suddenly become exercised that the cost of prosecuting Wakefield may have risen to more than £1m. It looks to me like this story was put together in a hurry – they cannot quote any real figures, and £1m is likely to be a fraction of the real cost. And what after all – in the great scheme of things - is £1m these days (when compared to a banker’s salary)? Indeed, how much have Times Newspapers themselves laid out trying to bring Wakefield down?
What conclusions can we draw from this? The Times of London has become disillusioned with the prosecution. The Times of London does not have any real information about how much the prosecution has cost but considers it to be too much. The Times of London does not really have any expectation of the GMC finding a serious malpractice case against Andrew Wakefield, and is trying to kick over the traces. Having strung the operation out for five years – because of thinness of the allegations - the British Establishment and its traditional organ, The Times, having finally uncovered the unpalatable answers it was trying to hide, is reduced to wondering whether justice is worth paying for at all.
As we know, early last month the proprietor of the two London newspapers, James Murdoch, was appointed to the board of MMR defendants GlaxoSmithKline with a brief “to help review "external issues that might have the potential for serious impact upon the group's business and reputation"”. Of course, we cannot say that the latest non-story reflects the important commercial thinking of Mr Murdoch, but it does surely represent the latest down-beat phase in the careful stage-management of the Wakefield affair for public consumption.