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An Elaborate Fraud, Part 5: In Which Brian Deer Defends His Reporting and Accuses Autism Parents of a Conspiracy

Blanket Lancet

By Dan Olmsted

The journalist who claims Dr. Andrew Wakefield “fixed data” to link autism and the MMR shot says his own work contains “no ethical irregularities” – and he is accusing parents of autistic children of conspiring with Wakefield.

Brian Deer, who wrote the British Medical Journal article in January alleging that Wakefield's report was a hoax, was responding to criticism of his own methods by parents of three of the 12 children in the Wakefield report. Deer says those parents actually were “in it” with Wakefield and continue “to conspire with” him to create a false version of events.

One parent, Rosemary Kessick, said Deer had used a false name when interviewing her on the subject and was accusatory and biased; a second parent, Isabella Thomas, questioned how Deer obtained medical information about her two sons as well as other confidential data.

In the 1998 Early Report by Wakefield and 12 co-authors at London’s Royal Free Hospital, published in the Lancet, both parents had linked the onset of autistic regression and bowel disease to the mumps-measles-rubella shot. Wakefield and colleagues reported the parental associations in eight of the 12 children, but wrote that further research was needed to determine if a connection existed. Wakefield subsequently urged that the three vaccines be administered separately pending that research, triggering a huge controversy. An investigation of the Early Report sparked by Deer led the Lancet to retract it in 2010, and the General Medical Council pulled Wakefield’s license to practice medicine the same year.

This series examines the basis for the claim that Wakefield, and Wakefield alone, perpetrated “an elaborate fraud,” a claim the BMJ and subsequently mainstream media have adopted as fact. Wakefield’s research is now widely described as discredited and any link between vaccines and autism as debunked.

Regarding Kessick’s comments to me, Deer wrote on July 26: “Not only do I have no shred of doubt about interviewing Rosemary Kessick while using a pseudonymn [sic], I’m immensely proud of the encounter. … Thanks Ms Kessick.”

Deer, who was working for The Sunday Times of London at the time of the interview in 2003, said he had “discussed the intended use of a pseudonym in advance with editorial and legal staff, and the subterfuge was wholly justified by the public interest in the safety of children by means of vaccination, which Ms Kessick sought to challenge.”

In fact, the newspaper said in a note accompanying the subsequent article, three months later, that “As one of Britain’s top investigative journalists, he [Deer] has also had to work under assumed names because pharmaceutical companies have tried to block his inquiries” – not that Deer had used such tactics with the parent of a disabled child. Nor did that article use any quotes from her, although the British Medical Journal did so seven years later without explaining when or under what circumstances they had been obtained.

Simply saying, as Deer did, that The Sunday Times approved of his deceit may not carry the Good Housekeeping-like stamp of approval it once did. The newspaper is part of News International owned by Rupert Murdoch, which is the subject of several official investigations into reporting tactics during that period, including phone and computer hacking and “blagging,” the use of false identities to gain access to confidential information.

"Not only are there no ethical irregularities in my work, but my stories on MMR are now widely-regarded as the textbook public interest investigation in the field of medicine," Deer said in his July post in response to my articles. "Hence, my second British Press Award, which, as every British journalist will know, are immensely difficult to win."

Deer went on to accuse Kessick of serious impropriety. “The pair of them were in it together,” he wrote of Kessick and Wakefield. Deer offered no evidence to support the allegation.

Deer has a long history of lambasting Wakefield, calling him a “charlatan” and “slippery as condom lube.” More recently, perhaps fortified by the journalism award in Britain, he has gone after journalists (he called me a “clown” in his recent post, a mild slight in the Deer lexicon), and parents who have challenged his critique of the Lancet study.

He described the letter Kessick wrote to the editor of the London Times about him as “a torrent of false abuse.” I quoted most of the letter in this series, but Deer said I “lied” when I wrote that I left out only a few irrelevant details. Deer said the omissions “would tend to undermine Ms. Kessick’s credibility,” although my recollection is they mostly had to do with his strangely frequent use of the bathroom.

In addition to his attack on Kessick, he called Isabella Thomas “a spiteful, vexatious lady, who apparently continues to conspire on behalf of Dr Andrew Wakefield in false allegations that evidence exists to suggest that the MMR vaccine causes autism.”

That comment by Deer was contained in an October 23, 2006, letter from Deer to Norman Baker, Thomas’s member of Parliament who had enquired on her behalf about Deer’s reporting.

“I don’t believe that Ms. Thomas has any genuine concern about confidentiality,” Deer added. “In my view, she wants to cause me harm, and to obstruct further inquiry into what happened at the Royal Free Hospital [where the study was conducted] in the late 1990s.”

A number of parents who support Wakefield’s research findings told me they are afraid to speak out for fear of being attacked by Deer as dishonest, or having their words twisted to conform to his viewpoint. In the past Deer has said that he would be the judge of whether a family was entitled to medical confidentiality based on his own assessment of their statements and actions.

He also wrote in his July post that I am “presently grappling with how to leave out a direct allegation of fraud against Wakefield made in another letter by a Lancet 12 parent.”

That is what a literature major might call an idiosyncratic reading of the text. It will be discussed in due course – although Deer, who received the letter in March as a result of my inquiries, is free to bring it up at his convenience, which he has now done twice without describing the content. The BMJ also has a copy, supplied by me in June, and so far has failed to acknowledge its receipt or publish the major correction plainly envisioned by its own editorial policy.


Dan Olmsted is Editor of Age of Autism. He is the co-author, with Mark Blaxill, of The Age of Autism – Mercury, Medicine, and a Man-made Epidemic, to be published in paperback in September by Thomas Dunne Books.


Jeannette Bishop

Thank you, Dan, Rosemary, and Isabella, and Dr. Wakefield. To me, Brian Deer's coverage of this story is actually powerful support of the truth of what you are saying, but to have to be subjected to all that has been involved in trying to protect all our children...I can only say thank you, thank you for speaking up continually!

Angus Files

Deer is not the only one with big trouble brewing...

"Which, in this case, is no Elisabeth; and a clear acknowledgment of big trouble brewing."

Don't listen to the voicemails - look what's happening in News Corp's boardroom



Deer isn't even fit to LOOK AT , let alone touch/carry Dr. Wakefield's shoes!

I am willing to bet since this whole Murdoch scandal broke he is getting a tad bit of his own experience with diarrhea! One can only hope!


Furtive Transactions,

I'm trying to think why Deer would secretly record when he was also ostentatiously recording (but not really). Usually you secretly record when you're trying to get the person to make admissions he wouldn't want memorialized.

But given that Mrs. Kessick described him as disheveled, maybe he was just slipping off for a couple of belts, in time-honored hard-boiled reporter fashion.


With Brian Deer, I can't help being reminded of that creepy 1978 film "Magic". The dummy expresses aloud the evil, normally suppressed, thoughts of its otherwise benign-looking master ventriloquist played by Anthony Hopkins. I wonder whose nasty thoughts the puppet Deer really gives his voice/pen to, GSK? various press publishers? the surprisingly small ruling elite?

Angus Files

Bright Eyes Mr Deer?

Phone hacking: Paul McCartney to contact police over claims Mirror journalist accessed voicemails

Sir Paul McCartney has said that he plans to contact police over allegations that his voicemail messages were intercepted.

Media Scholar

Alleging a conspiracy - in itself - does not make someone a "conspiracy theorist," but rather alleging a conspiracy with no proof. That is why Brian Deer is a conspiracy theorist.

All these so called science writers are little more than flying monkeys for the drug giants. They shrug it off and excuse themselves as "we're just doing what we're told to do."

What does Deer really think he's accomplished? As a scientist you already know you can't trust the trade journals due to the influence of drug companies.

Make no mistake about it, Deer held a shot-gun to the head of every single scientist in the world.

When he took Wakefield in a head-lock as a human shield, he did so for the vaccine-manufacturing drug companies, and that act of terrorism in principle destroyed the credibility of every single piece of scientific literature produced in our time.

It's just wrong for medical journals to take money from drug companies. Ordinarily, we the public don't even read the stuff, but we are smart enough to know that makes them dirty.

Mercury is a base element (Hg). It can not be destroyed, nor can it be reduced to something less than what it is...mercury. How does re-branding bribery make bribery anything less than bribery?

"...We shall pay them on the beaches, we shall pay them at their pools, we shall pay them during their trans-Atlantic flights and pay them at their trade conferences, we shall pay them in the most luxurious ways we know how to 'til the jack flows out of their nostrils; we shall never surrender,"

Jenny Allan

The Analyst:
A few more Deer 'reflections' from that Guardian blog whinging about Nature Magazine expecting him to sign a contract precluding him from using dodgy methods to write libellous rubbish!!
"Invited to write about scientific fraud, I sent them some sharply honed words, assuming the magazine must be plying a new course.
I say this because science writing is mostly PR: various kinds of puff piece about breakthroughs...... In my piece I had opined that scientists are no more trustworthy than restaurant managers – whose kitchens are randomly inspected to protect the public. But my commissioning editor told me I couldn't say that in "the house journal of science". I had the impression they felt it just wasn't a reasonable thing to say."

I love the fact that Deer had plainly already written his article for Nature. I hope it took him a long time!! I expect the Nature lawyers were just too polite to tell him to P*** Off!!

Last month Deer was named specialist journalist of the year in the British Press Awards. Obviously the Nature editors were completely unaware that the 'specialisation' was Deer's vilification of Andrew Wakefield and scientists in general, for which he seems to be 'teflon coated' in terms of legal liability. Perhaps the teflon is beginning to wear off the pot.

I do hope so!!

Jake Crosby

Alleging a conspiracy - in itself - does not make someone a "conspiracy theorist," but rather alleging a conspiracy with no proof. That is why Brian Deer is a conspiracy theorist.

The Analysist

Slowly it would seem that Brian Deer's reputation and credibility as a 'Investigative Reporter" is eroding.

Nature magazine seems to have taken a very protective position of it's own reputation, to which Brian Deer finds exceedingly offensive ?

The point of contention ...

"You represent and warrant that the Article will not be libellous and will not violate the privacy rights of any individual..."

Irony ?

Hopefully now we can all put Brian Deer behind us and look forward to the riddle of autism aetiology being solved by more rational and astute minds.

Wade Rankin

--> "...he called me a 'clown' in his recent post, a mild slight in the Deer lexicon."

As I have told others who have been on the receiving end of Deer's adolescent name calling, wear it as a badge of honor.

Heidi N

I am not understanding why Brian Deer is not being sued? Is there some kind of fear in suing him. I see no other way to stop him.

Furtive Transactions


I think we assume that when Rosemary Kessick agreed to let Deer tape the interview he got into a tangle because he had another secret device on his person in case she didn't agree-and it was this other device on which the interview was recorded (necessitating many visits to the toilet). All in a days work for an intrepid Sunday Times liar, fraudster, receiver of stolen documents...I guess he was probably worried that if he didn't stick to one tape he would get it confused with one of the others.

Angus Files

Wos Brian that did that

Sunday Times bans use of subterfuge

Editor tells reporters not to use misrepresentation or deception,

"As a result, it is understood that the paper's editor, John Witherow, told his reporting staff not to use pseudonyms or alter egos despite the fact that such practices are allowed under law and in the Press Complaints Commission editors' code of practice for stories that are in the public interest. "We have been forced to do it," a source said."


If Mrs. Kessick is right about Deer turning the same tape over again and again, there's no recording of their interview. Mrs. Kessick didn't record it. And she doesn't seem to have refreshed her memory of the events 13 years previous by consulting her red book or other materials prior to her interview with Deer.

If she were in a conspiracy with Wakefield, she would have done the above and more.


In the past 50 years, how many other journalists have filed "medical complaints" against doctors in the UK ???

only one so far ???

Any non-Murdoch journalists filed any medical complaints ?

Brian Deer is not even fit to carry Dr. Wakefield's shoes.


Soooo perdict what is going to happen, is Deer going to self destruct taking no one with him?

IS there a Chance that Deer is going to self destruct and will take Sunday Times with him and embarrass the GSK and the British Medical Journel that ---oh never mine they cannot be embarrassed or they wouldn't be up to their necks in this to begin with; but is there a chance that GSK, and BMJ will receive a public blackeye?

I don't suppose that Deer's "post behavior" will lead to government investigations and arrest and imprisonment and not just for him?

Deer's festering DSM diagnoses

In addition, this will NEVER get him off the hook on "insanity" as this does not cloud his understanding of right and wrong. No, Deer is a personality disorder, a festering boil on the arse of GSK, BMJ and more to be surely named.

He is his own worst enemy and soon- the paranoia will settle in- if it hasn't presently.

tony bateson

Brian Deer is almost certainly a flawed personality. When I was joined by a number of friends at home because I was glued to the television watching his US pursuit of Wakefield some years ago they watched too for a few minutes. 'Who is this person?' they asked, they knew nothing of Brian Deer or Dr Andrew Wakefield, but they said the former has 'all the appearance of a disingenuous individual with a vitriolic spite against something or someone'. How right they were. I was glued to the set because of his disgraceful commentary and since then of course, have observed just how unpleasant a piece of work he truly is. I strongly feel that all of this will rebound upon him as it will the General Medical Coluncil that truly must have been desperate to align itself with this awful man.

Tony Bateson, Cheltenham, Glos UK

Media Scholar

I am “presently grappling with how to leave out a direct allegation of fraud against Wakefield made in another letter by a Lancet 12 parent.”
Sounds a lot like mincing the matters in such a way as to retain sole discretion.

That's deersay, a new word invented by necessity to describe: 1) a by-product of a self-professed free-lance writer attempting to chop up what's 'on the record' with what's 'not on the record', mixing it all together to produce a fuzzy salad deliberately biased to favor his benefactors, 2) a corruption of un-official or illegally obtained statements by a self-professed free-lance writer which are raised up a pole for all to bow to.

Yet when it's Deer, the tyrannical reeve of modern time, everything is intimating.

in·ti·mat indicate or make known indirectly; hint; imply; suggest.
2. Archaic . to make known; announce.

Where are we RIGHT NOW?

We aren't inside the hollows of Deer's skull. We're on a web site devoted in part to exposing what actually happens to people with brains on vaccines and who continues to expose infants and toddlers to THIMEROSAL-containing vaccines.

And what does that make us to people behind the iron curtain in the police state of the UK? What does the secret policeman of mother England think?

Here's a hint:

(Can't be sure, but that sure looks a lot like Dan, John, and J.B. trying to dislodge Wakefield from under-beneath Brian Deer's Volga. Maybe not.)

Angus Files

Deer's festering DSM diagnoses

if you had a few of the boxies ticked you would be dignosed what happens like Deer if you tick them all,and your still on the loose..mind you Murdoch is on the loose also just now..

Deer's festering DSM diagnoses

Reading Deer's comments is enlightening. Some day, a court psychiatrist may be gathering all of them to decide if he is a sociopath with narcissistic tendencies, a psychopath, a compulsive liar, a sadist -- but--most likely he will fall into the Anti-Social Personality. Any who are attached to him better look out.

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders fourth edition, DSM IV-TR = 301.7, a widely used manual for diagnosing mental disorders, defines antisocial personality disorder (in Axis II Cluster B) as:[1]

A) There is a pervasive pattern of disregard for and violation of the rights of others occurring since age 15 years, as indicated by three or more of the following:

failure to conform to social norms with respect to lawful behaviors as indicated by repeatedly performing acts that are grounds for arrest;
deception, as indicated by repeatedly lying, use of aliases, or conning others for personal profit or pleasure;
impulsiveness or failure to plan ahead;
irritability and aggressiveness, as indicated by repeated physical fights or assaults;
reckless disregard for safety of self or others;
consistent irresponsibility, as indicated by repeated failure to sustain consistent work behavior or honor financial obligations;
lack of remorse, as indicated by being indifferent to or rationalizing having hurt, mistreated, or stolen from another;

The World Health Organization's ICD-10 defines a conceptually similar disorder to antisocial personality disorder called (F60.2) Dissocial personality disorder.[5]

It is characterized by at least 3 of the following:

Callous unconcern for the feelings of others and lack of the capacity for empathy.
Gross and persistent attitude of irresponsibility and disregard for social norms, rules, and obligations.
Incapacity to maintain enduring relationships.
Very low tolerance to frustration and a low threshold for discharge of aggression, including violence.
Incapacity to experience guilt and to profit from experience, particularly punishment.
Markedly prone to blame others or to offer plausible rationalizations for the behavior bringing the subject into conflict.
Persistent irritability.

The following condition commonly coexist with antisocial personality disorder:

Narcissistic personality disorder

People who are overly narcissistic commonly feel rejected, humiliated and threatened when criticised. To protect themselves from these dangers, they often react with disdain, rage, and/or defiance to any slight criticism, real or imagined.[10] To avoid such situations, some narcissistic people withdraw socially and may feign modesty or humility. In cases where the narcissistic personality-disordered individual feels a lack of admiration, adulation, attention and affirmation, he/she may also manifest wishes to be feared and to be notorious (narcissistic supply).

With narcissistic personality disorder, the individual's self-perceived fantastic grandiosity, often coupled with a hypomanic mood, is typically not commensurate with his or her real accomplishments.

People who are diagnosed with narcissistic personality disorder use splitting (black and white thinking) as a central defense mechanism. They do this to preserve their self-esteem, by seeing the self as purely good and the others as purely bad. The use of splitting also implies the use of other defense mechanisms, namely devaluation, idealization and denial.[12]

A pervasive pattern of grandiosity (in fantasy or behavior), need for admiration, and lack of empathy, beginning by early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts, as indicated by five (or more) of the following:

Has a grandiose sense of self-importance (e.g., exaggerates achievements and talents, expects to be recognized as superior without commensurate achievements)
Is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love
Believes that he or she is "special" and unique and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people (or institutions)
Requires excessive admiration
Has a sense of entitlement, i.e., unreasonable expectations of especially favorable treatment or automatic compliance with his or her expectations
Is interpersonally exploitative, i.e., takes advantage of others to achieve his or her own ends
Lacks empathy: is unwilling to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others
Is often envious of others or believes others are envious of him or her
Shows arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitudes

Harry H.

"In the past Deer has said that he would be the judge of whether a family was entitled to medical confidentiality based on his own assessment of their statements and actions."

Really? Brian Deer is judge and jury? Who appointed this maniac? Don't they have privacy laws in Great Britian?

Dan E. Burns -

Enjoyable to read. It's a relief to see blagger Brian Deer held to the standards of responsible journalism. My favorite line: “Simply saying, as Deer did, that The Sunday Times approved of his deceit may not carry the Good Housekeeping-like stamp of approval it once did.” Runner-up: "That is what a literature major might call an idiosyncratic reading of the text."

Good work, Dan. In background, knowledge, and experience, and temperament, you are exactly the right bulldogger for this job.

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