Harvey Marcovitch and Brian Deer’s investigation: the Lord High Everything Else?
Amongst the signatures on the British Medical Journal editorial accompanying Brian Deer’s latest ambush of Andrew Wakefield the name of Harvey Marcovitch has gone almost unremarked (HERE). While Marcovitch is indeed an associate editor of BMJ it should not go unnoticed that he is also Chair of the GMC Fitness Practice Panels. Whilst this is disclosed amongst his competing interests in the article he notes in exculpation:
“HM chairs GMC fitness to practise panels. He had no association with the Wakefield hearings and the views expressed in this article are his own and do not represent those of the GMC.”
But it is almost impossible to see how the second statement could be true even if his sole contribution to the hearing was not to intervene. As we know, the chairman of panel at the hearing, Surendra Kumar, was appointed in spite of the fact that he had shares in GSK and sat on two medicine licensing authority committees (HERE), and further blotted his copybook after the hearing by leading a debate at the British Medical Association calling for MMR vaccination to be made compulsory in the UK (HERE). What makes Marcovitch’s signature here utterly remarkable is that he is not apparently in the habit of signing BMJ editorials: a search of the journal’s index reveals he has signed only four since BMJ went online 17 years ago, and all of the previous ones were solo efforts. Whatever it was that induced him to accept collective responsibility for this editorial while appeals in the case are still pending, it seems curiously insensitive and a potential contempt of court.
Entirely undisclosed by Marcovitch in BMJ is his board membership of the United Kingdom Research Integrity Office (UKRIO) (HERE), a body sponsored by a number interested public bodies and by the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) (HERE), and so far BMJ has refused to publish a letter pointing out the connection. Also on the board of UKRIO is the medical director of ABPI Dr Richard Tiner (HERE). Tiner is also a non-executive director ABPI’s associate outfit MedicoLegal Investigations which specialises in investigating doctors and bringing them before the GMC (HERE). It was MLI that boasted of its involvement in Brian Deer’s initial investigation of Andrew Wakefield (HERE):
“The extraordinary tale of the problems found in the paper by Dr Andrew Wakefield (as published in the Lancet) concerning MMR and autism were shared with MLI in strict confidence whilst Brian Deer's fine piece of investigative journalism was under way. We were asked to advise on matters that were clearly quite alarming.
“It is rewarding to know that our knowledge and understanding of research problems is recognised. Brian Deer's investigation reinforces our view, yet again, that in medical research there is far too much pressure to publish. The damage done to the integrity of research is such that it places doubt in the minds of the public about all research. Tragically, as in this case, the information provided by Dr Wakefield not only throws doubt on the work of his colleagues within the medical profession it affects the decision-making process for parents who became totally confused about the rights and wrongs of MMR.”
Dr Marcovitch wears several different hats - as journalistic opinion former, investigator and prosecutor. Like Pooh-Bah - the Lord High Everything Else in Gilbert & Sullivan’s ‘Mikado’ - it may be important to establish just which of these gentleman you are addressing.
(With thanks as ever to Jake Crosby.)
John Stone is UK Contributor to Age of Autism.
Marcovitch disclosed the UKRIO association in his new article:
'Competing interests: HM is a past chairman of the Committee on Publication Ethics and was previously a member of the board of the UK Research Integrity Office; he also chairs GMC fitness to practise panels. The views expressed are personal and don’t represent the views of those bodies.'
He also goes into a bit of the history of UKRIO in the article:
"Hopes of a national solution have been frustrated. The UK Research Integrity Office was set up in 2006 under the umbrella of Universities UK (UUK), with a galaxy of biomedical institutions as stakeholders and with support from the government. Many of us were disappointed by its lack of mandatory powers and predicted its downfall if institutions bought into it more by word than deed.8 Such has proved to be the case: its funding ran out in October 2010, and it has now severed its links with UUK and reconstituted itself as a limited company providing independent advice and support to those who seek its assistance. On the way it produced an excellent blueprint for investigating research misconduct,9 founded a whistleblowers’ helpline, provided independent assessors when requested, and responded to numerous queries from both funders and researchers."
However, the website suggests that the organisation is very much alive and Marcovitch a member of it, if no longer on the board.
Posted by: John Stone | January 19, 2011 at 06:21 PM
Speak of the devil; The Grand Poobah has an editorial out in the BMJ today.
Posted by: Jake Crosby | January 19, 2011 at 12:40 PM
Give Deer a dose of his own medicine?
18: Investigative science reporting: Does it exist?
Look up this session in the timetable >
This session is part of the Biomedical Strand funded by Wellcome Trust
Summary: The terms science journalist and science writer are often used interchangeably. Science writing is an important skill that serves a vital function - making fascinating and important science more accessible to the public in an accurate and engaging way. But shouldn't science journalists aspire to more than this? Isn't journalism about challenging power and revealing the truth - whether that be politicians and their expense claims or scientists biasing their work to suit their funders? This session will tap the brains of some vastly experienced investigative journalists and touch on huge stories from BAE paying Saudi Arabian princes in exchange for arms sales to Andrew Wakefield and MMR.
Date: Wednesday 1st July
Time: 16.30 to 18.00
* James Randerson
* James Randerson
* Brian Deer
* Luc Hermann
* David Leigh
* Gavin MacFadyen
Sure Good Morning America has no morality and typically network media have no ethics, but come on...this wasn't too hard to find.
Posted by: Media Scholar | January 19, 2011 at 12:37 PM
You are quite correct John.I should have said Sally Clark everyone.
Posted by: Jenny Allan | January 19, 2011 at 09:41 AM
I fear Jenny Allen has confused the names of the tragic Sally Clark with that of Sally Smith the prosecuting counsel at the Wakefield hearing. This is the link for the Clark story:
Posted by: John Stone | January 19, 2011 at 06:51 AM
It occurred to me that US folks may be unaware of the fact that Sally Smith died, shortly after being released from prison, having already served a lengthy period, following her wrongful conviction for killing her beloved babies. Poor Sally was a 'broken woman'; her only solace was to 'drown her sorrows' with alcohol. This wrecked her liver, the eventual cause of her untimely death.
The disgraceful court testimonies of so called 'expert witnesses', doctors' David Southall and Roy Meadows were accepted without question by the trial judge and jury, even although much of these damning testimonies were based on the completely unsubstantiated opinions and untested hyptheses of these doctors. But judges and juries are not medical experts, and perhaps the time has come to insist on such court 'expert' witnesses being required to state whether their expert testimonies are based on hard facts,(which should be produced as part of the evidence), or are merely untested opinions or hypthethes.
Sally's staunchly supportive husband and a large number of campaigners, eventually managed to have the unsafe testimonies of Meadows and Southall questioned, both publicly and in court appeals. It transpired that Sally was only one of a large number of mothers accused by these doctors of Munchhausen's Syndrome by Proxy. Some of those other mothers were jailed, and some lost their other children who were forcibly taken into care or adopted. Untold lives were ruined. Meadows and Southall were both 'struck off' by the GMC after a public outcry, but I am unsure whether their licences have since been restored under appeal.
Dr Wakefield and his supporters can 'take heart' from Sally Smith's case. It shows that public pressure groups CAN obtain justice, simply by being vocal and persistent. Although this will not bring back martyr Sally, we can all keep campaigning against medical injustices in her memory.
Posted by: Jenny Allan | January 19, 2011 at 02:59 AM
The GMC appear to be promoters of the MMR vaccine also. See this CHS account:
UK General Medical Council Told Docs “Commit Fraud for MMR Vaccine Bonuses”
Posted by: ChildHealthSafety | January 18, 2011 at 01:11 PM
In addition Professor Denis McDevitt was due in July 2007 to chair the unprecedented British General Medical Council hearing of the case of Doctor Andy Wakefield [also charged were Professor Murch and Professor Walker-Smith].
McDevitt and the GMC failed to declare McDevitt’s personal involvement in approving the dangerous Pluserix MMR vaccine in 1988.
McDevitt was only stood down after Jamie Doward of the Observer, Martyn Halle, freelance journalist for the Sunday Express, Andy Wilks of the Mail on Sunday, Jenny Hope of the Daily Mail and Heather Mills of Private Eye challenged the GMC over the matter. ["MMR Conflict of Interest Zone" Private Eye - June 2007]
Posted by: ChildHealthSafety | January 18, 2011 at 01:07 PM
Dr Marcovitch sounds like a glutton for attention to me. Who takes their own picture for a publicity stunt?! There are times, every great once and a while, that I am glad to an Aspie,with my rigid dependence on logic. Reading an article about a fellow like that just now, that makes this one of those times!!! And considering how rare those times are, that's pretty bad Dr. Marcovitch!!
Posted by: Theodora Trudorn | January 18, 2011 at 09:30 AM
Attention GSK employees: Whistleblowing is your path to financial freedom.
Mercola.com has a feature article today that contains a video from "60 Minutes" which details GSK's criminal activities and their gross negligence in addressing serious drug safety and quality concerns brought up by employees.
The GSK whistleblower, Cheryl Eckard, earned $96 Million for blowing the whistle.
Posted by: Opportunity Knocks for GSK Whistleblowers | January 18, 2011 at 09:09 AM
So it seems that Malcovitch, not content with acting as judge jury and executioner, apparently also played a major part in 'inventing' the crimes!! Keep digging John. The more 'worms' that surface the better. Oh and 'Well Done'!!
Lisa, a recent episode of Holby City featured an unvaccinated child taken to hospital with measles; her parents were 'sternly lectured' on the dangers this had caused the hospital staff!! Another closely affiliated medical soap called Casualty, featured the manic mother of an autistic son, nearly 'killing' him from calcium deficiency, caused by his gluten and casein free diet. (Utter nonsense, of course, there are plenty of available calcium fortified milk substitutes and other calcium containing foods.) This will have unnecessarily concerned all those watching mothers whose children have a milk allergy!!
A complaint to the programme makers, illicited the response that the programme was fictional and the characters were played by actors. This was grossly irresponsible on the part of the BBC, but maybe Malcovitch had a hand in this!
Posted by: Jenny Allan | January 18, 2011 at 07:47 AM
Thanks Robin. Glad you enjoyed it. Of course, the guy in the video doesn't remind me of Brian Deer one little bit!
Posted by: John Stone | January 18, 2011 at 07:24 AM
What a monster,how sad is Marcovitch when he has to take his own photo for his own publicity stunts...
The Telly tubbies Laa-Laa,(Brian Deer) Dipsy,( Fiona Godlee) Po,(Jane Smith,) and Tinky Winky(Harvey Marcovitch,)
Why asre they trying to suffocate argument on the BMJ r.e. Deers latest ,ist it because they cant defend it?of course it is...
Posted by: AngusFiles | January 18, 2011 at 07:17 AM
Gilbert & Sullivan - John I'm shocked . . . How very very . . . wicked of you . . .
Posted by: Robin Rowlands | January 18, 2011 at 05:55 AM
Dr Marcovitch also signed a letter of support in the BMJ for Dr David Southall, the controversial Paediatrician who is associated with accusing many women of Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy and his breathing trials on babies seem clearly linked to vaccine trials. Many of those women have children who reacted to a vaccine.
Dr Marcovitch has also stepped out to strongly support Sir Roy Meadow, another controversial British Paediatrician who has also accused hundreds of women worldwide of MSBP, yet never mentions vaccines and never mentions he was on the Adverse Reactions to Vaccination and Immunisation sub committee of the JCVI when the MMR was launched in the UK. Both these gentlemen were involved in destroying the Sally Clark family by false allegations and were struck off the GMC for their actions. Sally Clark's children died after vaccines, one just five hours after the DTP. See Neville Hodgkinsons's excellent article in The Spectator on the fact that neither the prosecution or the defence would go near even the mention or possibility of adverse reactions to vaccine - yet that is exactly what the committee was called that Sir Roy sat on.
Dr Marcovitch has also advised TV programmes such as Holby City, a hospital soap in the UK during a time when they covered a so called case of Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy.
Surely any intelligent reader/parent can see whats going on?
Posted by: Lisa Blakemore-Brown | January 18, 2011 at 05:47 AM