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Brian Deer Tries to Cover His Tracks

MMR, the Murdochs and British Medical Journal: Questions Unanswered as Editor Godlee Plans Washington Triumph

Fiona_Godlee By John Stone

BMJ editor, Fiona Godlee, is scheduled to give a presentation under the auspices of the National Institutes of Health in the Washington DC area on Tuesday renewing her and BMJ’s onslaught on the reputation of gastro-enterologist Andrew Wakefield (See NIH news/events). The allegations, made by journalist Brian Deer, which are fundamentally flawed were originally published in the Sunday Times in 2009 days after proprietor James Murdoch was appointed to the board of MMR manufacturer GlaxoSmithKline with a brief to defend the group’s reputation, but were largely ignored in the wider media until they were re-launched by British Medical Journal earlier this year Meanwhile, Godlee and BMJ have despite months of pressure failed to disclose that the journal itself is in partnership with another MMR manufacturer, Merck, through BMJ Learning and Merck’s not-for-profit information arm, Univadis. Contrary to normal academic conventions BMJ have taken a legalistically defensive position over their claims against Wakefield, have blocked legitimate comment in their columns, and not required author Deer to respond to criticisms (See Guardian UK comments and BMJ reply).

The story began in 2003 when a Sunday Times section editor told Deer “I need something big” on "MMR". This editor was Paul Nuki, the son of Prof George Nuki, who sat on a licensing authority committee when MMR was introduced in the United Kingdom in 1988. Shortly afterwards Deer, with support of the newspaper, was interviewing litigant parents in the MMR vaccine damage case under a false identity (an unethical practice known as ‘blagging’ which the paper has recently been forced to abandon under parliamentary scrutiny) (See Age of Autism: An Elaborate Fraud Part 1). Deer was also supported by MedicoLegal Investigations (MLI), a bureau affiliated to the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) which specialises in bringing doctors before the General Medical Council, the UK’s disciplinary body. Unknown to Sunday Times readers or the wider public Deer made a series of expertly drafted complaints against Wakefield and colleagues to the GMC and came to an agreement with GMC lawyers that he would not be named (thus allowing him to continue reporting with an undisclosed interest in the outcome) (See Spectator UK here). In 2010 Dr Godlee refused to allow reference in BMJ’s columns to Deer’s GMC conflict or require Deer to make a correction to his already published BMJ articles (See Age of Autism Godlee Must Go ), although euphemistic reference to the matter is made in his 2011 disclosures.

Deer has stated on his website that “almost all the key facts and documents” in his MMR investigation "are not public domain." When Deer stated in BMJ on-line last year “I know the names and family backgrounds of all 12 of the children enrolled in the study, including the child enrolled from the United States” the journal edited or removed all letters questioning Deer’s access to such confidential material, on the pretext of a legal complaint, but without further explanation. Deer also claims specifically to have studied confidential papers in the MMR litigation without explaining his access to them (see here and here), and published several of the names of children in the Lancet paper on his website between 2004 and 2007. All these apparent breaches of medical and legal confidentiality are known to BMJ, who have chosen to turn a blind eye and stop discussion of them in its correspondence columns.

BMJ’s present raft of fraud allegations against Wakefield derive from 2009 and were published in the Sunday Times six days after proprietor James Murdoch was appointed the board of MMR manufacturer GSK with a brief “to review…external issues that might have the potential for serious impact upon the group's business and "reputation." While there is no proof that Murdoch intervened with the paper to publish Deer’s allegations it would be characteristic of his brash style. Writing about current Murdoch family feuds in the Guardian three days ago Dan Sabbagh commented:

"Now those close to the family worry that the only options are "fratricide or patricide", with critics of James saying that he mishandled power with a series of crude corporate moves such as switching from Labour to the Conservatives in 2009 in the middle of the Labour party conference."

At the very least GSK have pronounced themselves satisfied with Murdoch’s performance – whatever it entailed – and rewarded him handsomely with share payments of $158,000 in 2010 (see Reuters). Deer’s two articles in the Sunday Times (article 1 and article 2) were followed by a succession of overkill pieces in its sister newspaper the Times of London (Times Online columnist David Aaronovitch 1 , Times Online columnist David Aaronovitch 2 and Times Online David Aaronovitch 3 ).

The allegations against Wakefield remain grotesquely flawed.

The most basic objection, which was pointed out by Wakefield early on in 2009 was that there were 12 other signatories to the 1998 Lancet paper who have never repudiated the data and he could not possibly have fabricated it on his own (as Deer and BMJ claimed) has never been answered. In fact Wakefield’s co-defendants at the GMC, Prof John Walker-Smith and Simon Murch, offered detailed defences of the paper’s data, and a third signatory, histopathologist Dr Susan E Davies, wrote a blistering rebuttal to BMJ of Deer’s interpretation of her evidence at GMC hearing. Other systematic flaws in the Deer/Sunday Times/BMJ claims were that the paper’s authors including Wakefield had never had access to General Practitioner notes that Deer had trawled through in constructing his case against Wakefield, but also that Deer had not had access in drawing his conclusion to the parent held developmental records (known as the Red Books) which the Royal Free staff had used in investigating the children. Deer dismissed the issue of the Red Books in a BBC interview, referring to them witheringly as ‘baby books’ (as if the very mention of babies provoked disgust) but a Department of Health pamphlet states emphatically “This is the child’s main health record and should be kept safe."

BMJ also refused to publish or get Deer to respond to more detailed criticism such as those of parent Martin Hewitt who subsequently posted detailed critiques based on the GMC record on Age of Autism (Revisit Deers Claims Part 1 , Part 2 and Part 3). Deer’s interpretations of the record remain substantially unchanged in BMJ from the 2009 Sunday Times reports, have had no apparent expert input and ignored two detailed rebuttals by Wakefield first of all to the Press Complaints Commission in 2009 and then in his book ‘Callous Disregard’ in 2010. Perhaps Deer’s single most egregious error was to interpret the deafness of Child 1 in the Lancet paper at age 10 months as an early sign of autism when the child’s GP had noted an ear discharge and diagnosed Otitis Media. In February Godlee was forced into a statement “The case we presented against Andrew Wakefield that the 1998 Lancet paper was intended to mislead is not critically reliant on GP records” (Why AofA left BMJ and Deer high and dry) which took no account of the fact it marginalised at a stroke what appeared to be the main details of Deer’s article “Secrets of the MMR scare: How the case against the MMR vaccine was fixed." So, we continue to wonder, what is it based on?

A further troubling aspect is that Godlee’s editorial accusing Wakefield of fraud was aberrantly co-signed by associate BMJ editor Harvey Marcovitch who doubles as chairman of GMC panels. While Marcovitch acknowledged the conflict it seems inappropriate that he should have signed, particularly since the GMC findings are still under appeal by Prof Walker-Smith (while Wakefield has been forced to withdraw due to cost). On the other hand Marcovitch failed to disclose initially his connection with United Kingdom Research Integrity Office, where until recently he was director with Richard Tiner a former director of both ABPI and MLI. As chair of GMC panels Marcovitch also failed to take action against the chairman of the Wakefield disciplinary panel, Surendra Kumar, who failed disclose shareholdings in MMR manufacturer GSK, membership of medicine licensing authority committees, and led a debate calling for MMR to be made compulsory shortly after the hearing was concluded.

While BMJ and its editor-in-chief pose as arbiters on research ethics there are many questions about the journal’s involvement in the MMR affair going back to the publication of Deer’s first article in 2004, which concluded with a gratuitous and prejudicial soundbite from the then editor, Richard Smith: "That MMR paper is the best example there has ever been of a very, very dodgy paper that has created a lot of discomfort and misery." The paper, however, reported accurately and made few claims. The time has come, on the other hand, to probe the gigantic smokescreen created to defend the reputation of MMR vaccine on both sides of the pond. If people are really concerned about research and publication ethics they should take a long hard look at BMJ.

John Stone is UK Editor for Age of Autism.

Comments

John Stone

Medical Questions

I have pulled out some more clinically relevant links from the article:-

http://www.ageofautism.com/2011/01/the-big-lie-wakefield-lancet-paper-alleged-fraud-was-not-possible-for-anyone-to-commit.html

http://www.bmj.com/content/340/bmj.c1127.full/reply#bmj_el_235073

http://www.ageofautism.com/2011/02/email-the-bmj-editor-asking-these-questions-re-andy-wakefield-editorial.html

http://www.ageofautism.com/2011/04/brian-deer-allowed-to-bluff-his-way-out-of-trouble-on-bbc-radio4.html#more

John Stone

Medical Questions

There are plenty of links included, notably:-

http://www.ageofautism.com/2011/04/time-to-revisit-deers-claims-that-wakefield-fabricated-his-findings.html

http://www.ageofautism.com/2011/05/time-to-revisit-deers-claims-that-wakefield-fabricated-his-findings-part-2.html

http://www.ageofautism.com/2011/07/time-to-revisit-deer-3.html

Medical Questions

Also give more information here on medical questions and answers so it will be more helpful to all of us also provide more information on that topic here.

John Stone

Hi Theresa

I just decided to take a look. Oddly enough I got to the same webpage by copying the title of the lecture (and no other info - not even Godlee's name) into google. So it looks as if it should appear but hasn't.

I don't think she was too comfortable talking about the issues Jake raised in front of the camera, or the audience but I am sure that wouldn't stop them posting the recording???

John

Theresa O

Does anybody know whether NIH is planning to post the Godlee presentation online? I checked here

http://videocast.nih.gov/PastEvents.asp

but it hasn't been included. Jake, did you embarrass her that badly?

Mark Struthers

It's not just Godlee: the BMJ has form when it comes to playing dirty, very, very dirty, on behalf of its industrial paymasters. The editor in chief before Godlee was a cove called Smith, Richard 'tricky-dickey' Smith. Smith was an editor for the BMJ for 25 years. For the last 13 of those years, he was the editor and chief executive of the BMJ Publishing Group, responsible for the profits of not only the BMJ but of the whole group, which published some 25 other journals. He stepped down in July 2004. In April 2003, Smith, editor in chief and responsible for all the journal contained, published this obituary of David Horrobin.

http://www.bmj.com/content/326/7394/885.1.full

It is difficult to imagine a more spiteful and frankly nasty piece of hack journalism written so soon after the death of a highly accomplished medical scientist. Why did Smith do it? David Horrobin was seen as a threat to the anti-depressant-industrial-complex: he had discovered that natural substances - essential fatty acids (EFAs) - were effective in treating depression. Of course this was anathema to the big-snake-oil salesmen, peddling SSRI anti-depressants to the world, his wife and all their children. Of course, it's still business as usual at the BMJ ... nasty business ... on behalf of their greedy and very nasty paymasters.

Jim Thompson


John and BarbaraJ:

Here are two links to the archives of the BMJ that offer a glimpse of the dark side of conflict of interest.


http://www.bmj.com/content/2/5152/635.2.full.pdf

http://www.bonkersinstitute.org/medshow/thalidomide.html


John Stone

Hi Jim,

Yes, I have been posting on this and related topics in a Guardian blog this morning:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/discussion/comment-permalink/12302287

Jim Thompson

John and BarbaraJ:

Yes. A laundry for those difficult conflict of interest stains. Washed and dried corporate paid for conclusions.

“A conflict of interest occurs when an individual or organization is involved in multiple interests, one of which could possibly corrupt the motivation for an act in the other.”

See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conflict_of_interest .

How else can the current bizarre situation exist, where the USCDC gives grant money for vaccinations (including Afluria flu shots with thimerosal) that profit the former USCDC director/current president of Merck's Vaccine division?

See http://www.cdc.gov/od/pgo/funding/IP08-803.htm

See http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/programs/vfc/

See http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/programs/vfc/cdc-vac-price-list.htm

Mark Struthers

Godlee's performance was awful. That she claimed she didn't know that GSK and Merck make MMR, as an excuse for not disclosing ties to the industry, was unbelievable, pitiful, and pathetic. In my opinion, this sort of disingenuous comment brings British medicine into disrepute. I believe British medicine deserves better.


Tara McMillan

utterly disgusting...when will it ALL just hit the fan?

Austen

Striking how Godlee seemed to be playing the old-fashioned role of intellectually challenged female as an exercise in manipulation much of the time.

Mark Struthers

@Jenny Allan

Thank you for posting your failed response to bmj.com on Godlee’s rank hypocrisy.

I wrote the following response late on the Friday before the end of August Bank holiday weekend. On the following Wednesday I politely enquired of the BMJ letters editor whether I needed to re-post. No, “we are still considering your response” was the reply: my letter had apparently not already been e-jected as I’d expected. I have heard nothing more.

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"Pious hypocrisy and those awkward ties to industry"
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The editor-in-chief commissioned and then chose to publish a series of articles by News International journalist, Brian Deer, on the 'Secrets of the MMR scare'. The editor judged these three articles to be of "high global importance" and made them freely available online. [1] [2] [3] In March, the editor admitted significant financial ties to vaccine manufacturers Merck & GSK and acknowledged that editorial staff employed by the BMJ Group should have declared these ties as a competing interest in relation to the Deer articles.

The editor then chose to publish - online only - a correction to the editorial that had accompanied Deer's articles. [4] No correction was published online, or in print, to the articles themselves.

It was the editor's choice this month to invite views: the editor thinks that strong policies are turning the tide on conflicting interests. My response: I disagree. I don't see the tide turning at all. I believe ties to industry, financial and otherwise, should be fully and honestly declared on all articles commissioned by BMJ editorial staff.

Andrew Wakefield followed the rules on the declaration of conflicting interests. Andrew Wakefield finishes his essay on disclosure, or the lack of it, with the words ...

... "this essay is about what amounts to, in my opinion, hypocrisy, double-standards, and professional retribution dressed in sanctimonious piety." [5]

Then and now, I believe Andrew Wakefield had a point.

[1] BMJ 2011; 342:c7452 doi: 10.1136/bmj.c7452 (Published 5 January 2011).

[2] BMJ 2011; 342:d22 doi: 10.1136/bmj.d22 (Published 6 January 2011).

[3] BMJ 2011; 342:d378 doi: 10.1136/bmj.d378 (Published 19 January 2011).

[4] Correction: Wakefield's article linking MMR vaccine and autismwas fraudulent. BMJ 2011; 342:d1678 (Published 15 March 2011). http://www.bmj.com/content/342/bmj.d1678.full

[5] 'Callous Disregard: Autism and Vaccines - the Truth behind a Tragedy' by Andrew Wakefield 2010. Chapter Eleven: Disclosure.

Competing interests: None declared

PS. Further responding to bmj.com is unlikely: I am currently banned from responding to anything. However, the courtesy of a confirmation and an explanation for my banning has not been forthcoming from the relevant editorial staff. That lack of courtesy is unsurprising based on past performance. Of course, the editor in chief has been so busy preparing to address the NIH in Maryland …

PPS. I was able to watch part of the live webcast from Bethesda. She was the Empress without clothes: the performance was pitiful, truly embarrassing.

cmo

It is beyond amazing what the mainstream media/ BMJ, mainstream medicine & the Murdochs can do with a "five page 1998 paper on 12 children" that concluded that only more research was needed on the MMR vaccine.

As before, these groups (and many, many others) have two basic tactics to retain money and power, "shrug and play stupid" and the "witch-hunt" procedures.

barbaraj

Where does science stand at this point in time with the volumes of research completed pointing toward persistent measles and the development of crohn's disease? Are they taking that away too, or is the noise over autism quieting this truth ,as well? Has all research stopped, or are the corporate paid for conclusions taking over for what once was science?

John Stone

Jim

Yes, indeed, not least because I am sure that the Wellcome Trust is one of those "clean" sources of sponsorship which don't have to be disclosed under ICMJE rules. Perhaps we should call it the laundry: Wellcome Trust; NIH, UK Medical Research Council.

John

Jim Thompson

John:

Once again business profit motivates commercial propaganda while children suffer from vaccine damage. The media (Murdoch and company), the medical profession (Godlee and company), and the USCDC (Gerberding and company),all share a conflict of interest that can never be cast off.

“…she resigned from her [CDC] post on January 20, 2009 and is now the president of Merck's Vaccine division. She is also Director of MSD Wellcome Trust Hilleman Laboratories Private Limited, a joint initiative between Merck and Wellcome Trust.”

See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Julie_Gerberding .

Jenny Allan

http://www.jhsph.edu/bin/a/h/JHVI%20NewsletterSummer2011_23June2011.pdf
The John Hopkins vaccine initiative

Just scroll down and find flyers for lectures by Seth Mnookin and Brian Deer, and photo's of Paul Offit 'pushing' his 'Deadly Choices' book onto another suggestible audience during another lecture. Ah yes, keep it in the family.

What they DON'T tell us is who or what is paying for all this vaccine propaganda and misinformation. As Brian Deer says, 'Follow the money!'

Jenny Allan

Thanks Mark Struthers; please keep writing those BMJ rapid responses and comments on internet threads. It's a great idea to put unpublished comments on AoA. I too have a word file full of them, including two responses to Johns Hopkins following Brian Deer's disgraceful lecture earlier this year!!
This is my unpublished BMJ response to your recent rapid response pointing out the Deer-Murdoch connection:-

"Dr Mark Struthers has pointed out the connection between the Murdoch, News International owned Sunday Times, and James Murdoch's non executive directorship of GlaxoSmithKline. Within a few days of Murdoch Jnr's appointment in February 2009, several News International articles appeared, all attacking Wakefield, including the following Sunday Times, Brian Deer article entitled:-

'MMR doctor Andrew Wakefield fixed data on autism.' Brian Deer 9-02-09.

In January 2011, the BMJ also published an article by Brian Deer entitled, 'How the case against the MMR vaccine was fixed.' This article was very similar to the one published in the Sunday Times. There was also an accompanying editorial, 'Wakefield's article linking MMR and autism was fraudulent', Godlee Smith & Marcovitch 5-01-11.

Brian Deer describes himself as 'an investigative journalist'. He has absolutely NO medical or scientific qualifications, and has always been extremely secretive about whom or what pays HIM.

'MMR doctor Andrew Wakefield fixed data on autism.' Brian Deer, 8-02-09
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life_and_style/health/article5683671.ece


'Secrets of the MMR scare: How the case against the MMR vaccine was fixed' Brian Deer 5-01-11
http://www.bmj.com/content/342/bmj.c5347.full


'Wakefield's article linking MMR vaccine and autism was fraudulent' 5-01-11
Fiona Godlee, editor in chief, Jane Smith, deputy editor, Harvey Marcovitch, associate editor
http://www.bmj.com/content/342/bmj.c7452.full

competing interest:-
An autistic grandson who suffers from the bowel condition as described by Dr Andrew Wakefield in the now retracted 1998 Lancet article which first tentatively mooted a possible MMR autism connection. My grandson was diagnosed and treated at the Royal Free Hospital, London between 1998 and 2002, under the excellent care of Professor Walker-Smith and his team."

Jenny Allan

Well- Today's the day America!!

In the UK Godlee only ever emerges behind closed doors and maximum public excluding security.

Go for it!!

Donna K


My personal impression is that this presentation may have been developed to serve two purposes. First, it is being presented to the U.S. government's professional research scientists, who may have been expressing their misgivings and skepticism about the whole MMR affair reporting amongst themselves behind closed doors. Can't have any more loose cannons like Dr. Healy, responding as a true scientist by engaging in some critical thinking and offering an honest assessment of the facts. Got to keep everyone on the same page with the same message, with the unspoken threat of being Wakefielded if anyone gets off message.

Second, I'm with Angus Files on the idea of a fallguy. Though Fiona Godlee gets to be the medical pointman in reinforcing the MMR message within the U.S. Government health sciences research community, she also becomes responsible for that message when the jig is up. Hold such a presentation to plant/secure a name and face especially now that the Murdoch media are losing their grasp on controlling the message. Now with Godlee/BMJ parading down the most esteemed halls of U.S. health research as the guard of ethics in medical research publication and reliability, and Deer as well having paraded down academia lecture halls as the sole reliable media source for the Wakefield story, they can be the most obvious focus and excuse when the inevitable expose of the MMR deception unfolds. The medical establishment can point to their esteemed professional journals as misleading them on the "science." The US media can lay their blame on the misplaced trust of an "award-winning” journalist working for an ethics-challenged scandal-ridden media empire. Two characters are in place to become the fallguys if and when the need arises.

Mark Struthers

@Jenny Allan

And another response was also cut by the BMJ censor,

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"The cost of "performing professional misconduct", allegedly ..."
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"They said ... we may have to seek them out and destroy them where they live". [1] Andrew Wakefield, in the second episode of 'Science Betrayed' continued,

"This is what happens is to scientists who cross the Rubicon, scientists who question policy and profit.” “It's irrelevant" ... splutters Adam Rutherford desperately...

... "You've been shown, in the largest, most in depth and expensive investigation in the General Medical Council's history ... came to the conclusion that you had performed professional misconduct."

The costs of destroying a committed, cogent, credible, charismatic medical scientist like Andrew Wakefield are obviously immense, as journalist Brian Deer so convincingly outlined at the conclusion of these two BBC radio programmes.

.... "The legal bills alone to get to the bottom of what Wakefield did would have cost ... oh, I don't know ... probably about 8 million pounds ... then there were the costs of my investigation and all kinds of other things which have gone on over these years ... the idea that those kind of resources could be brought to bear on other suspected cases of scientific fraud is just unrealistic ... so if it took all that money to crack what was a five page, four thousand word paper, reporting on twelve children seen at one London hospital, what on earth would it cost to use those kind of procedures to get to the bottom of other cases of misconduct". [2]

[1] The danger of drugs ... and data. Ben Goldacre, The Guardian, Saturday 9 May 2009. http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2009/may/09/bad-science-medical-journals-companies

[2] http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00znb98

Competing interests: None declared

Mark Struthers

@Jenny Allan

You may remember that Dr Michael Fitzpatrick, a wayward GP from Hackney, wrote a BMJ review of 'Science Betrayed', that BBC radio programme disgracefully conducted by Adam Rutherford, in March this year. I was able to sneak three comments past the BMJ editorial censor ...

http://www.bmj.com/content/342/bmj.d2006.full/reply#bmj_el_256915

... but another rapidly fired response fell by the censorship wayside.

-----------------------------------------------------------------
"A view from the twin pillars"
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Adam Rutherford, presenter of 'Science Betrayed', famously described the BMJ and Lancet as the 'twin pillars of the medical establishment'. However, the story behind these two episodes began in February 1998. Richard Horton, editor-in-chief of one of those twin pillars, was taken by surprise at a press conference,

"At that time we had no idea that Andrew Wakefield would say what he'd said at the press conference. Our view was that this was a paper describing a new syndrome: we had a great comment that put it into context … that explained the safety and value of this particular vaccine. We hadn't issued a press release and then he came out and said 'split the vaccine' ... and as soon as he said that at the press conference ... that was the trigger for the difficulties that followed." [1]

There was not a word about the performance of professional misconduct or how and why fraudulent science had been scandalously conducted, or even a word of regret about publishing 'the paper' that had caused such difficulty.

Of course, there is an uneasy consistency here: in 2003, the editor of the Lancet that published 'that paper' in February 1998 and then retracted it twelve years later, wrote,

"But I do not regret publishing the original Wakefield paper. Progress in medicine depends on the free expression of new ideas. In science, it was only this commitment to free expression that shook free the tight grip of religion on the way human beings understood their world. Sometimes the ideas proposed will be unpalatable ... Debate since publication of the Wakefield paper has established that his work opened up an important new field of science - the relation between the brain and the intestine in the etiology of autism." [2]

And Richard Horton went on,

"I worked at the Royal Free from 1988 to 1990 and met him on many occasions. He is a committed, engaging, and charismatic clinician and scientist. He asks big questions about diseases - what are their ultimate causes? - and his ambition often brings quick and impressive results. But his findings sometimes have limited staying power, and are overturned or substantially modified by less iconoclastic colleagues. His reputation unfairly in tatters, Wakefield resigned from the Royal Free Hospital, realizing that he had no future there and that he would be virtually unemployable in the work that he wanted to do anywhere else in the UK. There were rumours, not denied, that he was put under pressure by university authorities to leave. His colleagues, once so eager to pursue their careers on his coattails, mostly abandoned him..."

[1] http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00znb98

[2] Richard Horton glorifies Wakefield, with "no regrets" over discredited MMR paper. In a book, five years after he published a now discredited paper by Andrew Wakefield, Lancet editor Richard Horton, explains why he was glad he did it. In this extract, he asks: "Creating the conditions for a resurgence of measles is bad medicine. Or is it?" Extract from 'Second Opinion' by Richard Horton, Second Opinion, Granta Books, 2003. http://briandeer.com/mmr/horton-wakefield.htm

Competing interests: None declared

Jenny Allan

Official comment thread on BBC Radio 4 Science Betrayed programme:-
http://bioethicsbytes.wordpress.com/2011/04/04/science-betrayed-reflections-on-research-misconduct/

Jenny Allan

Oh and John mentioned the Guardian blog. Deer at his best and worst, definitely foot in mouth disease!!It's been on AoA before-but just in case you missed it!

http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/blog/2011/jan/12/andrew-wakefield-fraud-mmr-autism

"The Lancet once championed him. The BMJ has now nailed him – and commended my contribution. "It has taken the diligent scepticism of one man, standing outside medicine and science, to show that the paper was in fact an elaborate fraud," they wrote in last week's editorial.
Let battle commence, I say. Let doctors expose each other. Let journals compete to get the truth out first. Because 13 years passed before I slayed the MMR monster. And although a single, severed hand may yet come crawling across the floor, for science and public safety 13 years is still too long."

Jenny Allan

You are absolutely right John-and I too have complained to the BBC about several programmes, including the Science Betrayed BBC Radio 4 programme and yes -got nowhere!! This programme, presented by 'professional geek,(his words), Adam Rutherford, was an absolute disgrace. It has all the main players-Brian Deer, Fiona Godlee, Professor Mark Pepys -UCL Medical Director -who admits being the person responsible for sacking Andrew Wakefield-and of course Andrew Wakefield himself, struggling to get a word in edgeways!!

Notable points from the programme:-

Brian Deer's comments on the Lancet children's developmental records which he called 'baby books'.

Godlee stating that Deer 'helped' the GMC with their investigation which resulted in Dr Wakefield being removed from the register.

Pepys stating that he 'didn't like' transfer factor, the ameliorating Wakefield discovery which COULD have helped children with measles virus in their damaged guts!!
http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00zm328

Have a listen -it's only a half hour programme.

Media Scholar

There is a You Tube video posted by Brian Deer himself during an interview aired on CTV, a Canadian branch of the UK pharmo-media empire.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kT7AsXcCeYA

Grab it while you can as Deer's own words stand as an indictment of Brian Deer.

Deer claims he attacked Wakefield to keep him from earning money for MMR research. He acknowledges he attacked Andrew Wakefield because academic researchers always need money.

He also claims he attacked Andrew Wakefield for being a former drug company researcher who had a financial need to prove a theory about bowel disease.

He also indicates he attacked Andrew Wakefield because he was paid for services by lawyers, a vague reference to medical research relating to MMR litigation? We don't know for sure because Brian Deer lives in the realm of deersay.

Oh, and Brian Deer also claims he attacked Andrew Wakefield to keep opposing "medical products" off the market. Spin off vaccines, medical treatments, and diagnostic kits mentioned by Deer prove his attack was related to more than mere envy. As mentioned in these comments numerous times before this relates to Brian Deer's position in the combination in restraint of trade.

Through his own words, Brian Deer should be the subject of a Sherman Anti-Trust lawsuit, if any hath an ear that can hear.

None of Brian Deer's accusations make sense until the old rubber and glue theory is considered.

Brian "Barsad" Deer has fatal conflicts of interests, yet he has lethal competing interests.

The BMJ paper needs to be withdrawn. All of the UK papers that have supported Brian Deer are now liable for damages.

John Stone

Jenny

Yes, BMJ would certainly have been disappointed with the UK reaction but, of course, the Guardian gave Deer a blog (without reporting) and the BBC radio science department also undistinguished itself - a complaint is still in although not much hope attaches to it (apparently deceit is just fine providing there is a consensus). It looks to me like the Guardian and the Telegraph were unwilling to take a a big legal risk on it, while remaining repulsive, disingenuous bullies nevertheless.

John

Robert Hutchins

After the recent Murdoch and Sunday Times scandals, I think that it needs to be pointed out that Deer has credibility issues. They can keep beating up on Wakefield, but I do not believe anything from anyone associated with Murdoch or any of the British news groups.

Bensmyson

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/tony-blair/8740530/Tony-Blair-is-godfather-to-Rupert-Murdochs-daughter.html

Jenny Allan

In the UK, Brian Deer's three BMJ articles on the theme 'Secrets of the MMR scare' went down in the UK press like a well weighted lead balloon. As John Stone points out all of Godlee's public comments have been carefully legally vetted, as have been the rapid responses published in the BMJ by John Stone and others. Only Murdoch's intellectually challenged rag 'The Sun', published a vitriolic anti Wakefield article following these articles. The Telegraph merely published a verbatim report on Deer's first article.

It has been a different story in the US with that now notorious CNN Anderson Cooper verbal Wakefield lynching, and Brian Deer apparently being able to spout as much slanderous vile invective as he likes during his lecture tours of US and Canada. Much of this is complete fantasy, but then Deer never lets the truth spoil his audience impact.

The following is an account, by an AoA reader, of Deer's lecture at that venerable US institution, The Johns Hopkins University.
http://www.ageofautism.com/2011/04/age-of-autism-reader-asks-brian-deer-questions-at-johns-hopkins-event.html

Ah yes!! It seems there is a bit of a link between John's Hopkins and vaccines via the following article:-

Johns Hopkins Vaccine Initiative
http://www.jhsph.edu/bin/a/h/JHVI%20NewsletterSummer2011_23June2011.pdf
JHSPH Students at WHO and GAVI

GAVI -you might remember is that 'charitable' institution recently given hundreds of £millions of UK taxpayers cash to vaccinate children in Africa, by some accounts forcing MMR vaccine on them at gunpoint!! GlaxoSmithKline oh so generously sold vast stocks of their rotavirus vaccines to GAVI at half price. How very generous of GSK-makers of the MMR vaccine, until we found out that this vaccine was already vitually banned in the western world.

Janice Percival

5000 with Autism in Suffolk UK. Times that by all the other counties and it adds up to a lot of people, bearing in mind some counties are more highly populated.
We are at the stage now where everyone knows someone with Autism. The mainstream schools have special autism units, and the condition is treated as "normal" because people have become accustomed to it. 10 years ago you got preferential treatment at Disneyland Paris, so children with Autism did not have to wait (a severe problem for most) now there are so many Disneyland no longer offers this service. What does that tell you!

Jenny Allan

I'm sure this Ginger Taylor article has been on AoA before- but I enjoyed it again!!
http://adventuresinautism.blogspot.com/2011/03/proof-that-brian-deer-has-no-idea-what.html

Bob Moffitt

I am not surprised .. after reading of her extensive efforts to "stonewall" all criticisms directed at her magazine's successful campaign to destroy the professional reputation and personal character of Dr. Andrew Wakefield .. that Fiona Godlee has been scheduled to give a presentation before the United States' National Institute of Health.

Apparently .. in the eyes of the National Institute of Health.. "stonewalling" is not a vice .. it is a virtue that deserves being "rewarded" .. not "prosecuted".

If history is to be our guide .. I suspect it won't be long before Poul Thorson .. presently under federal indictment for allegedly absconding with a million or so U.S. dollars of critical research money .. will be asked by the CDC to give a similar presentation.

Angus Files

I`m sure when the fall guy is needed to role out it will be Deer and Godlee...

Great work John

Look forward to the final paragraph in the lie telling competition which should be soon..

Angus

P.S.
Ex Prime Minister Blair is FAMILY...

http://www.ageofautism.com/2011/09/mmr-the-murdochs-and-british-medical-journal-questions-unanswered-as-editor-godlee-plans-washington-.html

Lisa Blakemore-Brown

This incredible farce belongs to the world of fantasy. If the money making shenanigans of these preposterous pretenders were not so utterly devastating to vaccine damaged children and their parents and to professionals who know full well that some children have reacted in profound ways to vaccines, we could laugh out loud at these charlatans and their performances.

In the fullness of time jokers like Godlee and Marcovitch,Southall and Meadow, working with the likes of Murdoch and Big Pharma whilst prancing with conscience-less money grabbing ghost writers like Deer and Gornall will join the ranks of Alice in Wonderland and the Emperor's New Clothes in the collective conscience.

What a legacy they are leaving to their own families.

Enjoy your moment Ms Godlee.

AussieMum

I was re-reading sections of Callous Disregard today especially page 186 (grey area):-Hidden records show MMR truth. A Sunday Times investigation has found that altered data was behind the decade-long scare over vaccination.

Underneath is Dr Wakefield's response:- The Lancet paper did not "claim that their conditions could be linked to the MMR vaccine." No such claim was ever made in the paper; on the contrary, it was explicitly stated in that paper that no association-let alone a causal association-had been proved between MMR and the syndrome described.

I then had a revelation, if The Lancet is generally a medical journal, then your average 'Joe Blow' wouldn't necessarily read it.

However, how many 'Joe Blow's' would read The Sunday Times?

Therefore, was it really the work of Brian Deer that created the scare with the MMR and Autism?

Elizabeth

Jenny Allan

Establishment betrayed its agenda with MMR vaccine
http://scotlandonsunday.scotsman.com/comment/Establishment-betrayed-its-agenda-with.6029531.jp

This is an old article, but one with a great deal of Scottish common sense. The writer's name is not revealed-presumably for his own safety. Note the comments beneath the article, including mine and the ubiquitous anti Wakefield responses.

JennyA,
Scotland 31/01/2010 18:28:16
"An excellent article and a refreshing one in comparison to the same old medical 'establishment cant' we have become accustomed to.

In a truly democratic society, parents should not be bullied and frightened into having their children vaccinated when they have genuine concerns regarding the safety of this procedure. 'Herd immunity' is merely a concept dreamed up by the doctors and vaccine manufacturers. It does not guarantee any child's safety. For those children who do suffer adverse reactions the result can be catastrophic.

Sir Liam Donaldson was interviewed on TV claiming that the MMR vaccine prevented 'millions' of children getting measles. The 1000+ children who were claimed to have contracted the measles virus last year due to a 'deficit' in the numbers of children vaccinated, are a drop in the ocean compared to the huge numbers diagnosed with autism every year. Remember, autism is a life sentence, not a transient infection.

Sir Liam had similar 'alarmist' comments on Swine Flu but the section of the community most resistent to getting themselves vaccinated were the health care workers themselves. Don't do as we do. Do as we say!!"
Report Unsuitable

nickuk72,
Edinburgh 31/01/2010 20:58:11

"JennyA, you say that the 1000+ children who contracted measles are a drop in the ocean compared to those who were diagniosed with autism. How many were diagnosed with autism? Surely you can tell us? While you're at it, as you correlate those diagnosed with autism with those who recieved the mmr vaccine, can you please show me your data to prove the link? No? Didn't think so.... it doesn't exist. But just you carry on listening to a media that loves a good scare story without actually examining the evidence - quality journalism. I truly expected better of this paper - how wrong is was. Where is your evidence Scotland on Sunday? Measles unlike autism can be more than a life sentence - it can be a death sentence. If one child dies from contracting measles (and they do die today, not just 100 years ago) due to a parent refusing the mmr vaccine because of articles like this, their blood is on your hands."

Blood on MY hands?? Only two or three UK children are recorded as dying from measles during the last decade. They could not be vaccinated due to compromised immune systems due to verious co-morbidities which would have probably killed them anyway. With one child it was not conclusively proven that death was due to the measles virus.

In constrast the dangerous Urabe MMR component almost certainly killed or injured countless numbers of children, many of whom were quietly paid off by the UK and US governments with gagging clauses. Remember, long before MMR was introduced children were successfully protected against measles by the monovalent vaccination.

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