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The Launch of Silenced Witnesses Volume II: The Parents Story

Silenced witnesses By Martin Walker

Around 70 people gathered in the Virginia Woolf Suite at the Hotel Russell in London for the launch of the second volume of the 'parents voice books', Silenced Witnesses: The Parents Story. The Hotel Russell is probably one of the most beautiful hotels in London, and of course the Virginia Woolf suite was ideal considering the literary aspirations of the parents authors.

There are occasions when things go continuously wrong in projects like book writing and publishing. Having been involved in editing, publishing and introducing both volumes of Silenced Witnesses with Carol Stott, I had become aware, with this latest volume at least, that up until the very last minute things can go awry. Just as the books arrived in London from the printers, the company that had been set up to distribute them, collapsed leaving me just before Christmas owing a large amount of money - a loan having been part of the distribution deal - and the books marooned;  unable to even send out copies to the contributing authors. These dispiriting circumstances continued right up to the day of the launch when 2,000 flyers and book order forms, instead of arriving in London to be brought to the venue, ended up in France!

Right up to the start of the launch, I had only a glimmer of hope that everything would go well. However, it turned out be an event to remember and my anxieties, were quickly dissipated when it became clear half an hour before the start of the launch that the sixty chairs available would not be enough to seat everyone.

This is the second volume of Silenced Witnesses from Slingshot Publications, and the object of the books is evident, to give a clear voice to parents of vaccine damaged children, so that whether we win or lose the GMC battle or in the future when we win the scientific and the political arguments about vaccine damage, the parents' voices have been recorded.

When the proceedings began, it was as if the gathering was a warm-up for Thursday's day of gatherings and demonstrations that will accompany the verdicts following the two and a half year trial of Dr Wakefield, Professor Murch and Professor Walker-Smith.

I opened the launch by introducing the book and then commenting on something that has frequently concerned the parents over the last two and a half years. The fact that the parents of the Lancet paper children were not brought to give evidence about the inflammatory Bowel Disease affecting their children.

"The GMC prosecution has said that on the basis of the Lancet paper, Dr Wakefield and the other two doctors, carried out research on 12 children, without ethical committee approval, that they used invasive procedures for the purpose of experiment, that they carried out research without parental approval. That they experimented on children for the purpose of aiding claimant's cases against the pharmaceutical companies, but most seriously of all, the prosecution has argued that the children who came to the Royal Free were not ill, that they were autistic but did not have Inflammatory Bowel Disease; this has been the absolute core of their case"

"Anyone could see clearly that if they had a genuine case, to show that the children were not ill and that they were subjected to aggressive procedures without ethical approval and without parental consent, they were bound to call the parents to give evidence. They didn't because the parents would have told the hearing that most of the children suffered the most terrible bowel disease followed by regressive autism. So had the prosecution called the parents from day one the GMC case would have collapsed." 

In order to show that the campaign against vaccine damaged children and others seeking claims for iatrogenic damage in Britain had been going on for forty years now, from the time that the drug companies  were challenged over Thalidomide, I read out something that I had written recently.

" In the Loveday case for example, which ended in the late eighties the parents of Susan Loveday sued their GP who had given Susan Loveday the whooping cough vaccination fifteen years earlier. The Wellcome Foundation joined this action, on the side of the GP, despite not being named in it and were able to add the support of one of the biggest pharmaceutical companies in Britain to the defence."

"Expert evidence for the claimants, was given amongst others by Dr John Wilson a consultant whose case review paper cited 24 children, at trial, the defence claimed that none of the children said to be damaged in this case review paper stood up to scrutiny, some did not exist, the illnesses of others were not associated in any way with a vaccine and a large number of them had 'been proved' to be damage caused by quite other factors or illnesses."

"One of the expert witnesses called was Dr John Stephenson, a consultant paediatrician and neurologist at Glasgow's Royal Hospital for Sick Children, he claimed in his evidence that 'the suggestion that whooping cough vaccine causes brain damage in children is based more on 'mythology than science'. According to Stephenson, any evidence that might once have existed suggesting a possible causal link had 'evaporated'. In his view any temporal connection between vaccination and damage was purely coincidental. This was the vacuum of science into which that the vaccine conundrum was sliding."

"I drew parallels between this case and the one against Dr Wakefield and pointed out that throughout the 1970s and 1980s, the strategy of the pharmaceutical companies was to dismiss evidence on behalf of the children from the parents, having done this, the validity of the claimants analysis of the child's illness and its cause could be disputed. It was mainly done by attacking the credibility and reputation of any doctor or medical research worker who had recorded cases on which to base opinions. It was however, never sufficient to dispute the science and individual scientists became the subject of planned personal attacks. What was happening to Dr Wakefield is part of a continuum in which industrial science and the multinationals are taking control not only of medicine but also of the legal process and ordinary citizens are unable to get satisfaction in the courts."

After I introduced the launch, some of the parents authors spoek about their cases and the experience of writing. In the typically modest style of British parents, a number of them had commented, throughout the afternoon, on the opening chapter of Volume II, by Barbara Loe Fisher. How I wished that Barbara could have been there in the Hotel Russell, not just so that the UK parents could have joined hands with the US parents, but so that we could all have heard the views and had the support of this invigorating campaigning woman. Despite the high quality of all the chapters, Barbara's chapter stands out, because like Rosemary Fox's introductory chapter in the first volume, Barbara's chapter gives an intimate historical portrait of the growth of a movement.

When the parent authors spoke about their chapters, it became very clear that as well as being strategically useful the two volumes had provided a therapeutic role in their personal and family life. As Deborah Heather, whose chapter rings with the clear voice of authority, said after the launch; " It is strange isn't it that you can talk to people till the cows come home about your experiences but there is something very different when it is laid out in print. It is this reaction that we want, if after reading the book, just one doctor stands up and begins treating one child then I personally will feel my work has been done."

 Two of the parents, who had contributed chapters to the first volume, David Thrower and Allison Edwards, spoke about the value of the books. Having accompanied some of the authors, as editor, throughout some of their journey, I obviously must agree with Allison Edwards, the Chair of Cry Shame when she said, "I think the second volume is an absolute cracker of a book, all of the chapters are compelling reading "straight from the heart".

The first printing of volume II is accompanied by Alan Golding's brilliant hour long DVD, titled 'Selective Hearing: Brian Deer and the GMC'. And at the same time as the launch, the Times was publishing Deer's latest article about the GMC trial that has now dragged on for two and a half years and for which the verdict is expected this Thursday. In his article Deer posed as the parents saviour, disguising himself as a victims' campaigner and defender of what he termed 'the Lancet 12'; a complete travesty. Had  Deer dared to show his face at the launch, unseemly as the outcome might have been, there would have been no doubt about who had spoken for the parents from the first and who the parents still supported from the depths of their hearts.

Dr Wakefield, attending the launch with his wife Carmel, gave an impromptu and modest speech in which he repeated a number of times, the fact that whatever the verdict of the GMC, this battle was not about him but about science and the terrible plight of the parents and their children. Everyone was, however, aware that this is only half true, without Andrew Wakefield, the science, the data, the information about MMR, Inflammatory Bowel Disease and regressive autism, would have been buried by governments and drug companies, perhaps for ever.

I was left at the end of the launch, feeling that I it had been such a full and busy occasion that I hadn't had the opportunity to speak to so many people who I had not seen for some time. Most of all, I didn't really get a chance to speak to the parents whose project this was. Instead I was left to round off the launch with the correction of another disgusting Deerism. In a recent addition to his site there is a fulsome explanation of how I had conned parents out of money for self-published books and lined my pockets with money made from Dr Wakefield's vested interests; more bizarre unchecked accusations. I reflected for a moment on the wall of lies that Dr Wakefield, the parents, the campaigners and ultimately the children have had to fight.

I took a moment at the end of the launch to thank all those who went unnamed in the production of the book, including it's typographical designer and cover designer and all those who have anonymously donated money to the project. I had to make the point however, that the project still has a debt outstanding of around £2,000 to the books printers.

All enquiries about volumes I and II of Silenced Witnesses should be made to, after referring to the ad for the book that is on the home page of this site. And if there is a US publisher out there for both these volumes, I and the Bitish parents would love to hear from them.


CT teacher

Why didn't the defense call the parents as witnesses? Did I miss that somewhere, or was there some legal reason they could not do so?

Martin Walker

Dear Tina,

This is an answer to your question following my post about the book
launch. I'm not surprised that you have been confused Tina. I will try and
explain as simply as I can.

The prosecution case was that Dr Wakefield and the two professors on trial
at the GMC, exploited healthy but autistic children for the purposes of
research, without parental or ethical committee approval. And that in
their 1998 Lancet paper which was a case review of 12 children seen
sequentially at the Royal Free Hospital, they claimed that the MMR
vaccination had created autism in a majority of these children.

All of these allegation are untrue, what actually happened was that from
1994 onwards a large number of parents brought children to the
experimental gastroenterology unit of the Royal Free Hospital that was
headed by Dr Wakefield. All the parents complained that their children had
the most terrible bowel problems, while many of them lapsed into
regressive autism after the onset of these problems. A number of parents
identified the onset of the bowel problems with the administration of MMR.

The 1998 paper by Dr Wakefield, and 10 other authors, traced the onset of
a new form of Inflammatory Bowel Disease and it's relationship to the
onset of regressive autism. The science cited in this case review was
impeccable. The paper also stated that a number of the parents associated
the onset of bowel problems with the administration of MMR and that this
possible association should be investigated.

When in 2007 the case opened against Dr Wakefield, Professor Murch and
Professor Walker-Smith, it became obvious that the prosecution was arguing
that Dr Wakefield had in fact inveigled parents into the RFH where he and
the other defendants had experimented on them to prove a case of adverse
reactions against the pharmaceutical companies who manufactured MMR. The
prosecutions problem, however, was that in order to prove their case, they
would have to bring parents to give evidence, saying that their children
were not ill with serious bowel complaints and that they were misguided in
taking their children to the RFH. This they could not do because all the
parents were steadfastly on the side of Dr Wakefield and had all pressed
themselves to get their children to the RFH after they had observed
terrible bowel illnesses and finally they were all grateful for the
clinical treatment given by Professor Murch and Professor Walker-Smith. If
the prosecution had called these parents to give evidence, the prosecution
case would have collapsed; so the prosecution proceeded without any

Evidently, however, even the prosecution could see that without the
parents the whole case looked dodgy, so they convinced one mother to give
evidence and they did this by confusing her into believing that she would
appear for the defence! In fact this wasn't far wide of the mark because
many of the first witnesses called by the prosecution refused to support
the prosecution case and virtually gave evidence for the defence. The
other method used by Brian Deer to convince the world that the children
were the victims of Dr Wakefield and not of vaccination, was for him to
pretend to be the defender of both the parents and the children, the
person who had exposed this terrible unethical experimentation on the

What we have tried to do with the two Silenced Witnesses books, is tell
the children's stories through the voices of the parents. Apart from a few
notable exceptions by the real journalists involved in this affair, these
stories have not previously been told. To all intents and purposes the
parents have been silenced, not just in the GMC hearing but also in the
wider world of vaccine damage and the world of medical controversy around
MMR in Britain.

I hope that the above narrative makes you less and not more confused Tina.

Best Wishes, Martin Walker.


From "across the pond":-

@Tina - Please note that the author of the timesonline feature you've cited is Brian Deer, the "journalist" employed by the Sunday Times and Times newspapers. You may care to notice that, although 32 people have marked "recommend", there is no opportunity to make any other sort of comment or posting.

If you care to scroll down Age of Autism to January 25, 2010 you'll find "The Scandalous History of MMR in the UK" by John Stone. Please click on the link to the ChildHealthSafety blog where you will find explained exactly what part is played by Brian Deer in the prosection/persecution of Dr Wakefield and others.

To find more accurate accounts of the GMC enquiry please go to to find Martin Walker's excellent descriptions (yes, he's the one to do with Silenced Witnesses Parts I and II).


Well done, Martin, for shepherding this project through to completion - and for keeping the public so well informed about what has been going on, in this sorry chapter, of science perverted to accomplish an end.

Not the end touted by Wakefield's detractors, of a man so obsessed by a belief, and so corrupted by money, that he would sacrifice the wellbeing of 12 children to try to prove a hypothesis. But the end of establishment science, circling its well-ordered wagons, to fend off the puny arrows of mavericks, and parents who just can't accept that their children were the necessary collateral damage to a greater good. For as everybody knows, 'Vaccines are safe and effective'. Say it again, public: 'Vaccines are safe and effective.' And again: 'Vaccines are safe and effective.' Good. Now you can all go home.

Not. Likely. Massa.


Yes i feel that Dr Wakefield did want to protect the parents from scrutiny , but the point is im sure the GMC would have had the authority to call the parents why did they not do this , so you see the book was the opportunity for the parents to tell their side , and i have no doubt that much can be learned from these books , if by reading these books it gives you the courage to be assertive concerning your child that is a good thing dont you agree.


Yes, I am finding this a little difficult also. In the London Times of a few days ago, a mother of one of the children is cited as giving evidence at the trial. Here is the article. It actually says what she told them

I'm an avid reader of Age of Autism, but I'm not sure whether we are getting this all quite right. If this book is based on the idea that parents were silenced, but they were not, I'm not sure what to think.

Can anybody explain whether this mother did or didn't take part?

Maurine Meleck

Congratulations to the parents and all those involved with these publications. I know what a good feeling it is to put one's story
out there for everyone to read. I really wish everyone would read them too.


I'm confused about the parents being silenced. Brian Deer states that Dr. Wakefield declined to call any witnesses to support his side of the story, and that includes the parents. Why did he do this if he wanted the parents' stories to be heard? Was he simply trying to protect the parents from public exposure?


Martin you have given parents a right to speak unlike the GMC , the launch was a celebration of our faith in Dr Wakefield ,and most of all to tell the truth ,i like many other parents , and most importantly our children have suffered through the ignorance of others , all parents of Autistic children can be educated by this book , i have certainly been educated by all of the parents chapters in books 1 and 2 and by reading you will find that you are not alone in your quest for your childs health, education , and wellbeing , Martin we are so thankful for giving us a voice .

John Stone

Thanks Martin for a very touching occasion - I don't think anyone who was there will ever forget it.


Kevin Barry

The persecution of Dr. Andrew Wakefield is a monumental miscarriage of justice. How can you bring various charges against a Dr. about 12 patients ~ and then not introduce evidence about those same 12 patients?

Answer: the persecution is not about those 12 patients at all, it's about making an example of Dr. Wakefield because he has world class credentials, and he questioned the safety of a vaccine.

Autism Grandma




Ho Ho! That Brian Deer...he kills us.

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