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Evan Harris Distances Himself From Brian Deer But His Position Remains Untenable

Media Standards Trust and Hacked Off Director, Martin Moore, Stonewalls Over Evan Harris and Brian Deer’s Investigation

Hacked-OffBy John Stone

The director of the UK Media Standards Trust  and its purported public support arm for the Leveson media standards inquiry, Hacked Off, is stonewalling over Brian Deer’s MMR investigation, and former MP Evan Harris’s involvement in it - Dr Harris is also an advisor to Hacked Off. Moore’s last word on the matter after an Age of Autism article two days ago was:

‘To date we have not found evidence that Dr Harris’ previous activities compromise his role as an advisor to the Hacked Off campaign.’

These are the points that have been made to Moore and his colleagues on Hacked Off, Brian Cathcart and Thais Portilho-Shrimpton, about Deer’s investigation and it is not clear what their real role in the matter is  if such practices are acceptable to them:-

Deer published on the web without permission the names of children included in the Wakefield 1998 Lancet paper, only available from confidential medical records. Web pages were provided to Hacked Off dated 29 November 2004, 16 February 2006 and 11 November 2006.

Deer has stated also that he has read confidential legal documents relating to the MMR litigation belonging to families:

'Call me old fashioned, but I think JABS should know better than to invoke poor Ms ….. saying - presumably out of ignorance - that "legal aid was mysteriously taken away". There was no mystery, as Jackie surely knows. It followed the exchange of reports. In fact, having read them, I defy anyone with an IQ greater than their waist measurement to study those documents and not come to the conclusion that the Wakefield case was a bust.'

'Even in 2003, my investigation was very time consuming. I hadn’t then looked into Ms Kessick and I didn’t then know that talking to her amounted to talking to Wakefield. The pair of them were in it together. However, I did get from her a detailed account of what she said happened to her son (which broadly squares with her case in litigation), and it was at total variance with what was recorded in the Lancet.' (HERE)

Deer conducted interviews under a false name:

'I 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. The challenge was to get a detailed account of her story, unaffected by any assumptions she might have about the person she was speaking to.'

(See comment HERE)

Deer had a confidential arrangement with the GMC lawyers not to be named as complainant enabling him to continue reporting:

Deer stated that  he was put on the investigation by an editor with an agenda:

'For me the story started with a lunch. So many do. “I need something big,” said a Sunday Times section editor. “About what?” I replied. Him: “MMR?”'

It transpires that Media Standards Trust have had an agenda to defend MMR at least since 2007  and hosted a conference with speakers Ben Goldacre and Fiona Fox last year   who were closely involved in the 2007 story in which the news of the rocketing rate in autism was ruthlessly supporessed.

Well, people can make mistakes but now Media Standards Trust and Hacked Off have to make clear whether they are really concerned about journalistic standards, or only when it is convenient.

(Additional information from Jake Crosby.)

John Stone is UK Editor for Age of Autism.


Jenny Allan

"The reaction in the UK to Deer's article was in contrast to the huge publicity in the UK"

Sorry Folks I should have said " in contrast to the huge publicity in the US"

Senior moment!!


I failed to mention in my last post that I am "hacked off" by all the lies.

Elizabeth Gillespie


How do these "lying" individuals stay in "top" jobs or is "lying" a prerequisite?

Elizabeth Gillespie

John Stone


"Is Dr. Harris actually making a joke about changing hats to get involved?"



Jeannette Bishop

re: Taximom's query and John Stone's added reply to Martin Moore

I wonder if some of the confusion stems from Evan Harris referring to himself (as far as I can determine) when he says, “Hang on a sec,” ... “I’ll get Dr Harris on the line.”

Is Dr. Harris actually making a joke about changing hats to get involved?

John Stone


Here you are:

'"That was when I first encountered investigative journalist Brian Deer. Within a week we were in the Lancet offices explaining to a stunned editorial team what lay behind that fateful 1998 paper.1"'

Harris unambiguously claiming to be part of Deer's investigation.


Jenny Allan


@John Stone: I'm confused by your last sentence. Would you mind very much copying the whole paragraph where you underline the words "we were" and specifying exactly which BMJ article it's from? I couldn't find it, or figure out what you were talking about.

Thanks so much!

John Stone

I have just received the following characteristically tight-lipped communication Martin Moore of Media Standards Trust:-


'Dear Mr Stone,

'Please see the statement below:

'The Hacked Off campaign have been reassured that Dr Evan Harris has never engaged in breaching patients' confidentiality nor was he involved in Brian Deer's MMR investigation. As such we see no reason to believe Dr Harris’ position as an advisor to the Hacked Off campaign has been compromised and he will continue to work closely with us.

'With best regards,
Martin Moore'

I have replied (3.04pm):-

'Dear Mr Moore,

'I would be very glad if you could clarify your views on Mr Deer's investigation. Whether you view it with concern (and the particularly five issues I have highlighted) and whether Hacked Off and Dr Harris should not be encouraging the Leveson Inquiry to investigate the matter.

'Dr Harris was with Brian Deer when he made accusations against Wakefield and colleagues in the Lancet offices 4 days before the initial allegations were made in the Sunday Times (22 February 2004). He contributed an editorial in the Sunday Times accompanying the allegations (22 February 2004) and led a debate in the House of Commons based on the allegation on 15 March 2004. These accusations were to do with the children in the Lancet article. I quote the Sunday Times editorial:

'"At least four of the 10 patients paid for under legal aid were also apparently paid for by the health service."

'In a Science and Technology Committee meeting on 1 March 2004 he alluded to a letter of Wakefield in the Lancet for 2 May 1998 but did not mention that Wakefield had acknowledged in that very letter that he was acting as an expert in the court case - so it is hard to see how it was a revelation 6 years later.

'It is clear that Dr Harris collaborated with Mr Deer in any ordinary understanding of the term. I quote from an article in British Medical Journal only last year:

'"In February 2004 I got a call on my mobile from a journalist at the Sunday Timessaying he wanted to talk to me about the MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccine and autism. I said firmly that I didn’t have any concerns about MMR, I didn’t want to assist a scare story, and if I did want to talk about public health it wouldn’t be to theSunday Times, given the paper’s record on HIV and AIDS coverage. “Too bad,” said the man. “I have an exclusive exposé about Andrew Wakefield’s undeclared conflicts of interest surrounding his original 1998 Lancet paper.” “Hang on a sec,” I said. “I’ll get Dr Harris on the line.”

'"That was when I first encountered investigative journalist Brian Deer. Within a week we were in the Lancet offices explaining to a stunned editorial team what lay behind that fateful 1998 paper.1"'

'If Dr Harris now has doubts about the way Deer carried out the investigation, which until recently he was please(d) to be associated with (and despite warnings), it would be helpful if he would say.

'Very best wishes,

John Stone'

Finally to add that in my letter I underline the words "we were" from Harris's BMJ article.

Jenny Allan

The UK Media Standards Trust, like the Science Media Centre, is just another of those self appointed corporate and politically sponsored 'propaganda laundering' stations.

These organisations are NOT there to protect the interests of the public.


I was heartened today to see that Dr. Wakefield is going forward with his slander, libel, defamation case against Deer, Godlee and the BMJ. While it is never easy to enter into such a contentious suit, this time it will go to a jury. The previous "court" experience will surely stand in stark contrast to the upcoming one. Go, Andy.


Thank you for sticking with this John!

Your last sentence sums it up really well - the power of Murdoch propaganda has brainwashed even those who believe themselves most objective and crowned defenders of high journalistic standards to think of Dr Wakefield and those 12 sick children as Fair Game. They have been properly dehumanised (rule number one when manipulating masses and sensitising them to inhumane treatment of your victims) by the propaganda machinery so even the ‘enlightened’ parts of society will not blink when faced with Anything Goes methods being deployed against the victim.

The lack of action or even concern by the Hacked Off is very hypocritical and quite sickening, but not surprising.


You'd think that if Kessick and Wakefield were "in it together," her litigation case would square with what was in the Lancet intead of being "at total variance." Lawyers usually notice stuff like that.

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