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