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Brian Deer’s BMJ Series Not Peer Reviewed

Peer ReviewBy Jake Crosby

It’s been quite a month. Along with the clearing of Professor John Walker-Smith’s name, the discrediting of the Lancet’s retraction of Wakefield et al. for which he was senior author and the subsequent evisceration of most of the General Medical Council’s (GMC’s) charges “found proved” against Dr. Andrew Wakefield, comes yet more insightful news about the British Medical Journal (BMJ) article accusing him of fraud. BMJ Editor-in-Chief Fiona Godlee has persistently claimed that Part I of Brian Deer’s “Secrets of the MMR Scare” Series, “How the case against the MMR vaccine was fixed,” was peer reviewed. However, she has never been clear about how this was done.

Until now.

If there is anything new from Brian Deer, Dr. Fiona Godlee and the BMJ Publishing Group’s “anti-SLAPP motion to dismiss” Dr. Andrew Wakefield’s defamation lawsuit, it’s that no one other than Dr. Godlee, deputy editor Dr. Jane Smith and associate editor Dr. Harvey Marcovitch reviewed Deer’s stories pre-publication. In other words, Deer’s entire series was never peer reviewed, in contrast to what Dr. Godlee falsely claimed via email about Part I of the series (responding to emails sent by Age of Autism readers):

The article, which was subjected to peer review and editorial checking, was based on enquiries carried out over some seven years, involving, among other things, interviews with parents of children enrolled in Andrew Wakefield's research.

Underneath the Footnotes section of the article in BMJ reads the following claim:

Provenance and peer review: Commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

The motion-to-dismiss cites written declarations from all three editors and from Brian Deer on behalf of the defendants: Brian Deer, Dr. Godlee and the BMJ Publishing Group.

Yet Dr. Marcovitch is not correctly referred to as an associate editor in the motion as he was on the accompanying editorial cosigned by him at the time Part I of Deer’s series was published. Instead, Dr. Marcovitch is referred to as an “external reviewer.” What’s more, Brian Deer, Dr. Fiona Godlee and the BMJ Publishing Group used this false reference to deny actual malice:

Additional Fact-Checking and External Review: Not only did the BMJ fully trust Deer and his reporting, it and Dr. Godlee took extra steps to ensure the reporting was truthful. For Deer, who was ever mindful of Dr. Wakefield's prior litigation and regulatory-complaint history, this meant five months of work to ensure that every word and every citation was verified. (166) For the BMJ, this meant a separate fact-check of the first article by a deputy editor (Smith) and an external review for scientific accuracy by an expert pediatrician (Dr. Marcovitch).(167) Pre-publication review by outside sources constitutes affirmative evidence of no actual malice.

Of course, Dr. Marcovitch was not an outside source as claimed in the motion. Not only that, he was perhaps the most conflicted of all three editorial cosignatories. His conflicts included being the head of panels for the GMC and being a member of a pharma-backed company, the UK Research Integrity Office (UKRIO). There was even a campaign launched by Age of Autism readers last year to complain about him to the GMC.

Although he is still listed as associate editor on the BMJ website’s masthead, Dr. Marcovitch claimed to have left the publication late last year. When contacted by the National Whistleblower Center’s Dr. David Lewis during his investigation of the journal’s institutional research misconduct, Dr. Marcovitch bowed out of the probe with the excuse that he was no longer associated with BMJ Publishing Group:

Subject: Re: NWC Board Meeting


To: lewisdavel



Date: Fri, Oct 14, 2011, 11:15 am

Dear Dr Lewis,

I no longer have any association with BMJ Publishing Group so cannot assist with your query.

Harvey Marcovitch

Yet he has now made a written declaration of support for the motion to dismiss served by the lawyers of Brian Deer, Dr. Fiona Godlee and the BMJ Publishing Group. Throughout the motion, Dr. Marcovitch’s declaration was cited either to repeat the GMC’s discredited findings against the Lancet paper by Wakefield et al., or to dramatically allege the paper started “one of the great public health disasters in the UK in modern times.”

One claim for which the motion did not cite Marcovitch’s declaration was that he was an “expert pediatrician” who “externally reviewed” Part I of Brian Deer’s series for “scientific accuracy.” The declaration that was cited to support the claim of Marcovitch’s independence was made by Dr. Fiona Godlee, herself a defendant in the case as well as editor-in-chief of the medical journal being sued.

But will she stand by that declaration in a foreign court, having traveled all the way from London, England to Austin, Texas so as to perjure herself on her own behalf as well as her current employer’s? I wouldn’t put much past her, but that seems very unlikely.

Would Dr. Marcovitch be willing to travel all the way from London, England to Austin, Texas just to perjure himself in a foreign court on behalf of what he claims are his ex-boss and his ex-employer by lying that he was an “external reviewer” when he was in fact an associate editor of the BMJ? That seems even less likely.

BMJ’s lawyers will say whatever is most convenient in their attempt to quash Dr. Wakefield’s lawsuit and keep it from reaching trial. They did the same when denying Brian Deer received a letter from a parent accusing him of misrepresenting his own son’s case in the BMJ series.

However, I would imagine a motion’s strength depends on whether the arguments made in that motion could be legally made under oath in a court of law. That is not the case here; the BMJ’s argument of external review is not even consistent. The motion’s introduction made an oxymoronic statement about Dr. Marcovitch’s role in the affair when it said Deer’s investigation was:

…subjected to multiple editorial reviews, including an external review by an expert pediatrician.

An external review cannot be included as an editorial review. An editor, like Harvey Marcovitch before supposedly jumping ship, makes an editorial review.

So much for Dr. Godlee’s “peer review” claim, a claim that – if made in court on a public stand – will get her in a whole, new kind of trouble. This time, however, it will be with the State of Texas.

The alternative to committing perjury is not much better. That alternative is Dr. Fiona Godlee and the BMJ Publishing Group acknowledging the journal’s publication of non-peer reviewed charges by a journalist with no medical or scientific background, accusing a medical researcher of committing scientific fraud in a peer-reviewed paper (Wakefield et al.). If that alone does not prove malice on the part of Dr. Godlee and the BMJ, it would certainly prove reckless disregard for accuracy.

Add the fact that Dr. Godlee falsely told concerned readers that Brian Deer’s BMJ article was “subjected to peer review” plus the false claim underneath the article that it was “externally peer reviewed.” Then there is this motion made by all three defendants, including Brian Deer, falsely calling Dr. Harvey Marcovitch the “external reviewer.” The result looks very much like conscious, intentional wrongdoing. In other words, malice.

Jake Crosby has Asperger Syndrome and is a contributing editor to Age of Autism. He has been blocked from Brian Deer’s website ever since investigating for the article “Fresh Fraud” and has been removed from talks by Seth Mnookin and Paul Offit. Jake is a 2011 graduate of Brandeis University with a BA in both History and Health: Science, Society and Policy. He currently attends The George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services where he is studying for an MPH in epidemiology.



It is time to ALL DOCTORS TO DECLARE who they serve and what funding they receive from pHARMA. IT IS TIME TO BREAK AWAY AND DO INDEPENDENT RESEARCH.Maybe it is also time to cancel your subscriptions to BMJ and Lancet.It is time to be a REAL doctor and not a pHarma controlled puppet.It is time to save the children and the future if there is one.Who is this mr.deer??????!!!!!
with no medical or scientific background and he publishes on BMJ?! Please doctors support Dr. Wakefield and REMEMBER what happened to Ignaz Semmelweiss. Future research will give us the answers and shows us the true HEROES.
Please do not let history repeat itself.


Deer's declaration emphasizes that there was only one minor error in his BMJ article, that of citing Andrea Barrow in one footnote and "Anthea" Barrow in the one next to it. I mentioned this mistake here a few months back, but my point was that it was the very opposite of trivial. That mistake jumped out of the page at a glance so either those footnotes were never checked or whoever checked them did such a poor job that he actually thought that there were two Dr. Barrows. (The footnote has finally been fixed.)

Of course, the real issue wouldn't ever be technicalities. Say I write "Isaac Newton was born in 1642. He was interested in alchemy and theology. He died in 1727." Maybe all that is true, but is that a fair summation?


Father 11 believes that MMR caused his child's autism. Obviously, then, there's a connection in his mind between MMR, the boy's 8 week viral infection and the boy's autistic behaviors. There's little or no difference between Father 11's position and the Lancet paper.

Jenny Allan

Parent 11's letter to Brian Deer and Dan Olmstead actually states that Parent 11 SHARED Child 11's discharge summary with Brian Deer. I missed that comment in my previous post, for which I apologise, although my sentiments about Deer's publishing details about the OTHER Lancet 12 childrens' medical notes still stand. In any case Parent 11's letter makes it clear that he is NOT happy about Deer publishing material given to him, presumably in strict confidence.

The mistakes in Child 11's discharge summary, appear to come down to a simple secretarial error, due to the typist, (who will not have been medically trained), mistaking a 5 for a 3, resulting in 15 months becoming 13 months. Doctors' handwriting is notoriously poor!! The information in the discharge summary was presumably supplied to the Royal Free by Parent 11 himself, and his child's medical case, unlike most of the other childrens', was already diagnosed as autism and bowel problems in the US, and was apparently a straightforward example of post MMR vaccine regression.

I assume Parent 11 told all this to Brian Deer at the time of his interview. His request for 'discretion' seems to have been completely ignored!!

Jenny Allan

From Parent 11's letter:-
"Mr. Deer’s article makes me appear irrational for continuing to believe that the MMR caused difficulties which predated its administration, but until the incorrect dates in the discharge summary were pointed out to me this week, I failed to realize that the discharge summary was inaccurate."

Perhaps the REAL question Parent 11 and all of us should be asking is WHERE DID DEER GET CHILD 11's DISCHARGE SUMMARY??? In her responses to AoA readers' questions about Deer's BMJ article 'How the case against the MMR vaccine was fixed', BMJ Editor-in-Chief Fiona Godlee claimed that Deer got all the children's medical details from the GMC transcripts, but Child 11's details, as a US citizen, were excluded from the GMC charges, investigations and hearings.

Justice Mitting, in his written High Court verdict, in favour of Professor Walker Smith confirms this:-
"In respect of the clinical care of the children, Professor Walker-Smith assessed nine of the Lancet children in the outpatients’ clinic, prior to admission and all eleven children were admitted to hospital under his clinical care."
The twelth child was, of course, Child 11.

Deer has claimed he was given the childrens' medical details, in order to prepare a defence against previous litigation, brought by Andrew Wakefield in connection with a Channel 4 television programme. This information will have been given to Deer under STRICT court confidentiality legislation, precluding Deer from 'going public' with ANY of it. In the event Deer was apparently allowed to 'go public' with ALL of the childrens' medical details, picked over and dissected in great detail in Deer's BMJ articles.

This was and is a disgraceful episode, which SHOULD have been investigated by the police, for a clear breach of court confidentiality laws. Why wasn't it??

Jenny Allan

Just to clear up what Deer actually wrote about Child 11 in his BMJ article, 'How the case against the MMR vaccine was fixed', 5-01-11, this is the actual extract. ALL parties are apparently now in agreement that the Royal Free discharge summary got some of the timings wrong. However, this has nothing to do with what was reported in the Lancet paper. Child 11 was NOT identified and the only disputed item appears to have been that short Table 2 entry about the FIRST behavioural symptom onset, and the dispute is about how soon these symptoms occurred AFTER the MMR vaccination at 15 months, NOT BEFORE IT.

Deer's commentary seems to be completely at variance with what Parent 11 wrote in his letter to Brian Deer and Dan Olmstead.

"But child 11’s case must have proved a disappointment. Records show his behavioural symptoms started too soon. “His developmental milestones were normal until 13 months of age,” notes the discharge summary. “In the period 13-18 months he developed slow speech patterns and repetitive hand movements. Over this period his parents remarked on his slow gradual deterioration.”
That put the first symptom two months earlier than reported in the Lancet, and a month before the boy received the MMR vaccination. And this was not the only anomaly to catch the father’s eye. What the paper reported as a “behavioural symptom” was noted in the records as a chest infection."


@AoA Editors and Jake C

Thank you! I appreciate the explanation and the posting of the full text.

The "humans" at LBRB were/are having a field day with this. I believe Mr. Olmsted gave the definitive response by citing Professor Walker-Smith's GMC testimony.

Per High Justice Mitting, Dr. Lewis, and Professor Walker-Smith:

1) The children in the Lancet retrospective case study were referred properly
2) The children were treated based on clinical need
3) Wakefield could not have profited from a transfer factor measles prophylactic as that intervention is suitable only for immunocompromised patients after exposure to measles virus
4) Proper parental consent and ethical clearence was in place for every procedure performed by Walker-Smith's team.

Accordingly, it appears to me that Wakefield was wrongfully persecuted, prosecuted, and punished, as was Walker-Smith.

I still can't figure out why Dr. Offit and his enablers are scared shitless of Mr. Crosby. Does Jake have magic powers or something? I haven't seen anything quite so redonkulous as watching grown men and women panic and wet their pants as Mr. Crosby approaches the podium at NIH (Jake's video).

Jenny Allan

The letter from Lancet Child 11's father, reproduced in full in the LB/RB website contains some pertinent comments. I am assuming this is a true reproduction of the letter and that Child 11 is indeed the 'correct' child reported in the Lancet study.

The Child 11 disputed 'facts' are in 'Table 2' in the Lancet paper, a brief summary of all 12 cases. The paper also states that Professor Walker-Smith took the childrens' medical histories. In the case of Child 11 this was apparently accomplished without the child's US doctors' notes.

Table 2 states Child 11's FIRST behavioural symptom began 1 week after the MMR vaccine. It also reported recurrent viral pneumonia for 8 weeks following MMR vaccine. The onset of bowel problems is marked 'unknown'. As I understand it a FIRST behavioural symptom could have been ANYTHING from persistent crying or restlessness, to perhaps a subtle change in 'awareness' or 'engagement' with family members. In view of the passage of time, Parent 11 might well have forgotten what he actually told the Royal Free clinicians. I do not think this amounts to the Royal Free researchers and clinicians 'misreporting' Child 11's case, even though Parent 11 states his son’s "autistic behaviours started 2-1/2 to 3 months after the MMR, which was administered to him at 15 months". A FIRST behavioral symptom does not necessarily have to be an autistic behavioural symptom.

Deer himself, when writing about Child 9, insisted that deafness, obviously caused by and reported as an ear infection,(otitis media), before administration of the MMR vaccine, indicated autism!! This is very typical of Deer's double standards!!

By all accounts Child 11 has grown up into a fine young man, and I can well understand this family's wish for discretion. It's a great pity that press and media reporting in the US, has sensationalised an issue which was NEVER any big deal in the first place. Parent 11 says, "We know now that the study reported in the Lancet article was a huge and very costly distraction", but without Brian Deer and the Murdoch Sunday Times, not to mention the BMJ, this little Lancet clinical study, 14 years ago, would have been LONG forgotten!! In the UK MMR vaccine rates have long since recovered, with the exception of the London area, which has a high immigrant and transient population.


Ms. Jenny Allan writes:

"Another recent AoA article regarding letters written by the father of Lancet child 11, make it very plain that Brian Deer completely misrepresented this child's history in his BMJ article"-

Are you sure about that?

From LBRB, the accuracy of this post I will not vouch, I am interested to hear from AoA readers and editors their views:

"Daniel Olmstead
Brian Deer
Dear Mr. Olrnstead & Mr. Deer:
I have spoken with both of you regarding my son who may be one of the subjects in the Royal Free Hospital’s “research study” on autism summarized in the 1998 Lancet article.

The main reason I am contacting you now is to reiterate to Mr. Olmstead that we wish for our family to stay out of the public eye, and request that in any further discussions of this matter our privacy and the confidentiality of our son’s medical history be respected. We appreciate that in published work you, Mr. Deer, did that. My son has not consented to any disclosures regarding his medical history, and I hope that whatever information you disseminate will be shared in a manner that is not personally identifiable.

My second purpose in contacting both of you is to clear up some confusion, albeit generating additional questions which, as I explain below, I do not think are worth pursuing. Mr. Olmstead informed me that he believes that my son is Patient 1 I in the Lancet article, a conclusion he seems to have reached due to a violation of doctor patient confidentiality by Dr F. Given Dr. F’s distance, so far as I know, from these events, and his current state, it is hard to know what to make of this purported information. Mr. Deer’s article appears to assume that my son is Patient 11 as well, describing conversations with a father of “Patient 11 ” that appears to be me. However, we have no confirmation that Patient 11 is my son. When we got information during the Royal Free’s investigation, we were told he was Patient 13. Only 12 patients are reported in the Lancet article. I have no way of knowing how many subjects were excluded from the final report, or whether my son was one of them.

In any event, the description of Patient 11 in the Lancet article is not accurate if, in fact, it refers to my son. The Lancet article indicates that autistic symptoms started at 15 months, a week after the MMR, which is completely inaccurate; my son’s autistic behaviors started 2-1/2 to 3 months after the MMR, which was administered to him at 15 months. The Lancet article is a clear misrepresentation of my son’s history. Moreover, the Lancet article is not consistent with the Royal Free’s discharge summary regarding my son, and both the article and the discharge summary are inaccurate. One of the incorrect statements in my son’s discharge report was that autistic symptoms were seen from 13-18 months, while the vaccination was at 15 months. This is clearly inaccurate as his symptoms began several months after the MMR, as reflected in my initial correspondence to the Royal Free requesting my son be included in the research study. Based on the incorrect discharge summary I shared with him, Mr. Deer reasonably inferred that my son’s autistic symptom, predated his receipt of the MMR vaccination, which they did not. Mr. Deer’s
article makes me appear irrational for continuing to believe that the MMR caused difficulties which predated its administration, but until the incorrect dates in the discharge summary were pointed out to me this week, I failed to realize that thee discharge summary was inaccurate. While the inaccuracies in the Royal Free discharge summary may be chalked up to sloppy record keeping, if my son really is Patient 11 , then the Lancet article is simply an outright fabrication. My son’s autistic behaviors did NOT begin a week after administration of the vaccine, in fact they began several months afterwards, with several medical complications occurring in between.

The bottom line is that, if my son is indeed Patient 11, then the Lancet article made a false assertion that his symptoms set in immediately after the MMR; in service of some attorneys’ efforts to prove “causation” that, unbeknownst to me, apparently drove this research. If the sloppy mishandling of patient information and inaccuracies in my own son’s records is any indication of how that research was done, then I am very thankful that the Lancet article has been withdrawn and the “research study” discredited. That brings me to my third reason for contacting you, which is to express my hope that we can all move on from this debacle and search for real causes of the current explosion in autism cases. I have been involved in and have supported serious research into the causes of and effective treatments for this illness. We know now that the study reported in the Lancet article was a huge and very costly distraction. I hope that you will join me in looking, with an open mind, at real explanations of the current situation, as well as in advocating for adequate medical care and educational services for the many people affected, so that outcomes can be positive, as they are now proving for my son. While some autism may be a natural part of the human condition, what is happening now requires explanation. We will not get it if we spend time rehashing old debates.

As for the confidentiality issues, I appreciate and rely on your courtesy and discretion"

Mark Struthers

“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing."
(Edmund Burke)

That unholy alliance - the wicked triumvirate - of Government (DoH), BigPharma (GSK & Merck) and the Medical Establishment (BMJ, Lancet & GMC), has behaved with consummate wickedness (aka actual malice) towards those who have dared investigate sick autistic children and tried to answer valid scientific questions over vaccine safety. In the face of such evil (aka dishonesty, maliciousness, corruption, abuse of power, and greed) the medical profession has shamefully turned its back and done nothing.

I can only hope that resisting evil does not prove to be futile … because resistance is the only valid option … for good men like Andrew Wakefield.

Robin P Clarke (end of comment)

"all should be swept away for the health of the nation"

Which is a dream that I share but how soon could it actually become reality? The institutional charlatanism of Lysenkoism persisted for 30+ years before it was purged by outbreaks of honesty. Authoritycrats seem to have infinite immunity from challenge by any reason and truth, see for example the impregnable charlatanism of both "health" and "justice" professions proven beyond all doubt at http://www.bit.ly/foihg.

If AJW had filed in London his case would surely have been strangled at birth just as mine has been. But maybe he can get justice in Texas, and then what? The problem is that the media are part of the corruption too. The Guardian happily lies to its readers that dental amalgam is harmless, but if you try to post to its "comment is free", to gently warn readers of the horrendous scientific truth, you find your words disappeared without trace within minutes and your account pre-"moderated".

The information alresdy out about the GMC and BMJ should already be sufficient to have them condemned on front pages. But they aren't being. When AJW wins his libel case then Messrs Deer, Godlee & Co could be expected to all disappear down career plugholes, but what if the media just ignores it? Or the charlatans just stand their ground anyway. I found that there are all sorts of systems for complaining or prosecuting, but none of them provide any challenge to the pseudo-expertise, pseudo-justice itself which is at the core of this pathology. Meanwhile, the credibility of the corporatocracy is surely slipping down if not yet out.

Jenny Allan

Robin P Clarke (end of comment)says:-

"They (the BMJ Editors) work to much the same standards of truth-telling as the GMC, FDA, CDC, NHS, COT, DH, MIND Inst, NAS, MHRA, Pediatrics, GDC, Elsevier, Chief Dental Officer, BDA, ADA, etc." He also says:- "No. I didn't there(sic) say anyone was lying and didn't say anything is OK."

I am quite literally SICK of semantics, weasel words and patronising insinuations, from persons whose motives and agendas seem to be more about defending the indefensible. In the UK we have a saying 'Call a spade a spade'. In MY book that means a LIE is a LIE, and if something is NOT right it is NOT OK. This has NOTHING TO DO with logic or the lack of it.

The above article by Jake Crosby explains very well the BMJ editorial lies about Brian Deer's BMJ article 'How the case against the MMR vaccine was fixed being 'externally' peer reviewed, when it was plainly INTERNALLY peer reviewed, a very different matter. I won't even begin to explain the lies and fabrications in the article itself since Justice Mitting's written appeal court judgement exonerating Professor Walker-Smith, makes it very plain the GMC examination of the evidence, mostly based on Deer's investigative Murdoch Sunday Times articles, was superficial and often just plain WRONG!! This Jan 11 BMJ Deer article was a more detailed (and even more fanciful) regurgitation of another Deer Sunday Times article from Feb 2009 entitled 'MMR doctor Andrew Wakefield fixed data on autism.'

Another recent AoA article regarding letters written by the father of Lancet child 11, make it very plain that Brian Deer completely misrepresented this child's history in his BMJ article, again, this looks like a deliberate LIE. BMJ Editor-in chief, Fiona Godlee was informed about this and all the other 'errors' -to give this the benefit of the doubt- and was invited to publish corrections, or better still a complete retraction and apology. NOT HER!!

If Godlee and Deer are not required to explain themselves in Texas, then they will ultimately be answerable to a higher authority. Either way they are 'finished' in their respective careers. May God forgive them. I can't

Mark Struthers

@ Robin P Clarke (end of comment)

What has Godlee's double standard on conflicting interest disclosure got to do with science, vaccines and autism, or the price of fish? Nothing! But Godlee's failures have everything to do with honesty or the simple lack of it. Dishonest doctors are dangerous doctors and a danger to health. That's why I think Godlee must go and the editor of the Lancet should follow smartly. Niall Dickson (CEO GMC and not a doctor) should fall on his sword to preserve the reputation and future wellness of the British medical profession. This despicable triumphvirate has formed an unholy alliance with Big Pharma and a conflicted and corrupt Department of Health ... and all should be swept away for the health of the nation and its children. Down with the BMJ, the Lancet, the GMC, the DoH and this pathetic Coalition Government. Here endeth the lesson ... for now.

Robin P Clarke (end of comment)

@jenny allan: "So, are you saying it is OK for the BMJ Editors to lie and cheat on behalf of corrupt paymasters and political interests, simply because everyone else is 'at it'?"

No. I didn't there say anyone was lying and didn't say anything is Ok.

Actually the notion of people lying about science is a difficult one. An essential feature of science is that people have conflicting views and need to be able to express them without censure. Calling liars on all those you disagree with makes the whole biz fairly ridiculous and hopeless, so should be avoided as far as logically possible. And what does "lying" mean anyway? Occasionally there are instances where the authors cannot possibly have authored their misleadings other than with knowing deceitfulness. One instance was the 1997 uk COT second statement against vit B6 which was carefully contrived to deceive policymakers. A second even worse instance is the Hertz-Picciotto et al 2010 blood mercury autism paper which was VERY carefully contrived to pretend to be a finding that mercury is not associated with autism. Everything in that paper was true, and yet I still consider it the hugest fraud in history (dwarfing bank frauds for instance). They deliberately hid away its irrelevance in the tail end of the paper. That abysmal autism denmark paper was yet another.

But on the other hand, many people do make honest mistakes. Most people, whether establishment or anti-estab, are not very brill at cutting-edge science and very poor at distinguishing sense from nonsense and true from false. Even Priestley who discovered oxygen got in a muddle about "phlogiston" for instance.

Many of the errors in autism pseudo/research are due to mindless faith that their side is correct. And being in denial is not quite the same as lying. I see faults such as these in all sides of the autism 'debate'.

Angus Files

Well said Mark Struthers your posts are always a delight to read ,although the other side dont care for the truth when it is shown to them...keep up the great work..

Angus Files

Jenny Allan

@ Robin P Clarke (end of comment)
So, are you saying it is OK for the BMJ Editors to lie and cheat on behalf of corrupt paymasters and political interests, simply because everyone else is 'at it'?

Robin P Clarke (end of comment)

It seems unfair of Mark Struthers to pick on the BMJ like that. They work to much the same standards of truth-telling as the GMC, FDA, CDC, NHS, COT, DH, MIND Inst, NAS, MHRA, Pediatrics, GDC, Elsevier, Chief Dental Officer, BDA, ADA, etc.

Mark Struthers

The BMJ published their flawed 'Godlee, Smith & Marcovitch' editorial on 5 January 2011. On 14 February Vera Hassner Sharav from the AHRP wrote of the failure by the BMJ editorial team to disclose their highly relevant financial conflicts of interest,


… where she wrote,

"The fact that BMJ and The Lancet-- two of the most prestigious international medical journals would enter into a medical education partnership with the drug manufacturer whose staff drew up a "doctor hit list" to intimidate doctors who dared to discuss the lethal cardiac risks linked to Vioxx--is in itself a betrayal of trust of the worst sort."


"Finally, the Statement about Competing Interests at the end of the BMJ Editorial claims compliance with conflict of interest disclosure requirements of the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors. But the BMJ editor in chief and two deputy editors conceal rather than disclose the most relevant financial conflict of interest."

After John Stone had brought Vera Sharav's pertinent criticisms to the attention of the BMJ editorship, a 'correction' was appended 'online' to the offending editorial on 15 March. On 14 September, Godlee offered a highly unsatisfactory reason for failing to correct the competing interest statements on the libellous Deer articles published by the BMJ Group in the BMJ,


The BMJ stinks. The editor has betrayed trust every which way and loose. The editor is responsible for the BMJ and all it contains. Frankly, her position is untenable.

Mark Struthers

@Isabella Thomas

I see Carol Stott has had a rapid response posted today over the BMJ's failure to declare a conflict of interest on the flawed Godlee, Smith & Marcovitch editorial of January 5 2011.


However, the 'correction' was made on 15 March 2011 - not 2012. I think she's muddled the year and thought this was a recent declaration.

Surprisingly, a year ago, I got a rapid response posted after the BMJ's major omission on COIs.


The point of my response was to highlight the fact that the BMJ declaration was only made 'online' and only over that one infamous editorial. There was no online correction to the Deer stuff. The BMJ has not since 'printed' a correction - or apology - on this article or any of the Deer articles defaming Andrew Wakefield. Godlee and her buddies clearly operate an outrageous double standard. Why should they be allowed to get away with it?

Of course, readers at AoA may like to look again at how Godlee responds to her critics - Vera Sharav, John Stone and I.


Remember too, that Dr Godlee revealed, in her infamous lecture at the NIH last September, that she was not aware that GSK and Merck were manufacturers of the MMR vaccine. All in all, a level of chutzpah - and ignorance - that takes your breath away? It certainly left me winded.


Even if every word and citation is verified, what does that have to do with the issue being treated fairly? Have you ever seen extreme right-wing pamphlets which prove, for instance, that the Beatles were controlled by Moscow? These pamphlets can be heavily footnoted and look authoritative.

What's the remedy for journalism which only includes carefully selected facts?

Media Scholar

For those who don't know 'Piltdown man' started out as two pieces of a medieval skull, a lower simian jaw, an elephant molar, a hippopotamus tooth, and a chimpanzee tooth thrown in. With some finesse (and handy-dandy modeling clay) scientists were able to fabricate an entire caveman.

Manipulation was so easy even a scientist could do it.

Goodlee, years after pinning herself to the issue of what she indicates are long-standing, long-term habitual patterns of questionable scientific integrity, declaring scientific conflicts of interest as sure telltale of " piltdown science" (she "researched" this) amazingly was said to be "struck by a comparison between researcher Andrew Wakefield's fraud (alleged) and 'Piltdown man'".

At the time Piltdown man was a source of nationalistic pride for the UK. They claimed to have found the so called missing link, very important for the UK's evolutionary theory of man's existence to continue.

One problem.

It was a complete fake.

The British Medical Journal's deersay allegations against Wakefield allowed US vaccine court to leap to the wrong conclusion. The medical journal's involvement with Deer had zero to do with "setting the record straight" it has everything to do with cloaking lots of "American babies being shot at dawn" in vaccine court.

Jeff C

John Stone - thanks for the background info on Dr. Godlee. They must think the risk is worth it or perhaps their arrogance has utterly blinded them to the potential consequences of their actions. Oh to have been a fly on the wall during the Walker-Smith announcement.


Fiona Godlee is not profiting in monetary terms. She is hoping to profit in terms of professional kudos. She is an obssessive personality IMO who sincerely believes she is in the process of uncovering massive fraud within the whole of the medical research establishment of the major teaching hospitals in the UK, all funded by the Government NHService. She has staked her whole career on this theory.
Wakefield is where it all began.

John Stone

Jeff C

Godlee was already deeply committed to the cause in 2004 and it likely had something to do with her appointment:


This is not say that she did not get cold feet over the prosecution in 2006 like a few other fellow travellers (Michael Fitzpatrick, Jeremy Laurance) and call for the prosecution to be called off. But since the GMC findings she has been digging herself, the BMJ and it should said its parent organisation the British Medical Association (which is fundamentally our doctors' trade union organisation) in ever deeper, taking absolutely incomprehensible risks. Even should they get away with it the risks are in themselves incomprehensible.

And it has to be said that though we can already fill volumes with the outrageous behaviour of the British medical and political establishment over this episode there are things which are still hidden, and just possibly if we see Godlee, Deer, Marcovitch on the witness stand being cross examined by a proper, well briefed attorney we may begin to fathom some of it. They are taking these risks it is my guess because there is a deeper, dirtier secret which must never be revealed.

Jenny Allan

From BMJ Editorial :-
Wakefield’s article linking MMR vaccine and autism was fraudulent(Godlee, Smith & Marcovitch,5-01-11)
From above:-
"But while the disciplinary panel was examining the children’s medical records in public, Deer compared them with what was published in the Lancet. His focus was now on whether the research was true.

The Office of Research Integrity in the United States defines fraud as fabrication, falsification, or plagiarism.13

Deer unearthed clear evidence of falsification. He found that not one of the 12 cases reported in the 1998 Lancet paper was free of misrepresentation or undisclosed alteration, and that in no single case could the medical records be fully reconciled with the descriptions, diagnoses, or histories published in the journal."

From above again:-
"The Office of Research Integrity in the United States defines fraud as fabrication, falsification, or plagiarism"

So NOW we know- Thanks for the clarification Godlee, Smith & Marcovitch. As Justice Mitting's judgement stated:-

"For the reasons given above, both on general issues and the Lancet paper and in relation to individual children, the panel’s overall conclusion that Professor Walker-Smith was guilty of serious professional misconduct was flawed, in two respects: inadequate and superficial reasoning and, in a number of instances, a wrong conclusion."

We all now know exactly who has been fabricating and falsifying and it was NOT Dr Wakefield who simply recorded the Lancet 12 childrens' histories as previously compiled by clinician Professor Walker-Smith. The paper CLEARLY states this.

Jeff C

It seems clear that Deer is pharma's hired gun with messiah complex thrown in for good measure. What is Godlee's story? She gives every impression of being a simple dolt manipulated by those protecting their empires. I have not followed this close enough but is she profiting beyond keeping her cushy job? She's gone way out on a limb without much of a safety net. It's hard to believe simply being editor pays enough to risk the legal exposure...


".. Well, well, well... If the name was "Wakefield" instead of "Deer" then the mainstream media would have made sure this news circled the globe. Sad how many MSM reporters are willing to defend a crony, even if he's a complete dirtbag, in an attempt to redignify their profession...."

This is just my opinion, but the ONLY reason the GMC's persecution of Andrew Wakefield even got off the ground, was the disturbing complicity of main stream media.

Through an incredibly exhaustive and dishonest campaign, they fooled the public into believing that Dr Wakefiled had actually done something wrong. He clearly did not, but his very real findings, put some very powerful people, in some very hot seats.

The media blitz of January 2011 was a pretty sickening affair, but if you look at just the following simple example, there would appear to be something pretty strange going on:

1. On Jan 5th, at 8:14 P.M., CNN News reported: " Retracted autism study an 'elaborate fraud,' British journal finds" : ( http://www.cnn.com/2011/HEALTH/01/05/autism.vaccines/index.html)

2. On Jan 5 th at 9:16 PM, FORBES.COM reported : " Extradite Andrew Wakefield To Face Fraud Charges In The UK ". ( http://www.forbes.com/sites/davidwhelan/2011/01/05/extradite-andrew-wakefield-to-face-fraud-charges-in-the-uk/)

I guess it IS possible that the FORBES.COM author could have happened upon the CNN article as the instant it was being released, and then written and produced the FORBES.COM article in just 62 minutes. But I think it's far more likely that the FORBES.com author actually saw the CNN article well before it was officially published.

Things that make you go....hmmm.

Isabella thomas


Brian Deer had access to my son's confidential files before the court case started.

Interesting to see this retraction from the BMJ below.

Correction to Wakefield’s article linking MMR vaccine and autism was fraudulent,

The BMJ should have declared competing interests in relation to this editorial by Fiona Godlee and colleagues (BMJ 2011;342:c7452, doi:10.1136/bmj.c7452). The BMJ Group receives advertising and sponsorship revenue from vaccine manufacturers, and specifically from Merck and GSK, which both manufacture MMR vaccines. For further information see the rapid response from Godlee (www.bmj.com/content/342/bmj.d1335.full/reply#bmj_el_251470). The same omission also affected two related Editor’s Choice articles (BMJ 2011;342:d22 and BMJ 2011;342:d378)

Parent of two Lancet children


Well, well, well... If the name was "Wakefield" instead of "Deer" then the mainstream media would have made sure this news circled the globe. Sad how many MSM reporters are willing to defend a crony, even if he's a complete dirtbag, in an attempt to redignify their profession.


Bravo, Jake! It must be getting hard for them to keep the lies straight. Or the truth crooked. Or whatever it is they think they are doing. I am SINCERELY looking forward to the plaintiff's response. I'll bet it makes for delicious reading.

John Stone

Vaccine Explorer

No, Deer had published the names of children on the web between 2004 and 6 prior to the court ruling, which btw only gave him access to documents for the strict purpose of defending that action. Any statement that he has made about special knowlledge on the basis of that judgment would I would have thought abused the terms of the judgment.

Jake Crosby

Thank you, everyone, for your comments.


Deer was already posting confidential information about the Lancet children well before that ruling. Plus, he could only use the access he was granted to defend himself in the previous libel suit.


Thank you for your hospitality, but I have family in Austin.

Jeannette Bishop

Thanks for pulling all these details together.

Personally, I think they would have convened a panel of lawyers to "review" the article, if they weren't a little too blinded by their unrecognized COIs.


Jake, great work!

I read some of the Anti-SLAPP doc (the 63-page one).
Have you noticed this sentence (bottom of page 13, PDF page 22):
"After this ruling, the defendants won access to the underling medical records for the Lancet children".

It seems like Deer claims he got the Lancet 12's medical records lawfully.

Any thoughts?


Jake, if you need a place to stay, I live in Austin and would be happy to have you.


Thank you again Jake for all your insights.

Do you plan to travel to Texas to cover the proceedings?
I would suppose no one from the mainstream media will be on site.

I am sure you will be allowed in the courtroom. You won't even need to ask questions as the proper questions will be asked... and even answered... with anyone being thrown out.

Mark Struthers

David Lewis got the brush off in October last year. I had a similar exchange with Marcovitch in the September.
- - - - - - -
Sent: Monday, September 05, 2011 1:20 PM
To: Mark Struthers
Subject: Re: "Pious hypocrisy and those awkward ties to industry"

Dear Dr Struthers,

I no longer have any role with BMJ Publishing Group so you may wish to delete me from copy emails to BMJ.

Harvey Marcovitch
- - - - - -
Marcovitch was listed as a BMJ ‘Associate Editor’ at that time … and is, even now,


Do these editor types know no shame?

PS. Great work, Jake! You make them look like idiots ... which of course they are.


oooh, I love it. Fantastic, Jake. Also, who is paying Brian Deer, a journalist with no scientific or medical background?

Katie Wright

well, well, well.....
It seems like Deer and Godlee don't like it when they are the ones put under a microscope.
It seems to me that people claiming to be acting in the public interest would welcome any scrutiny of their work. Wasn't the point of Deer's reporting- that misinformation and sloppy publications hurt the public. Didn't Godlee claim to be scrupulous in her fact checking of the Deer pieces?
Now it seems like Godlee was Deer's advocate and peer reviewer?
I guess Deer's Mom wasn't available? I mean if friends are allowed to review each other's work, what is the point of peer review at all.

Amazing work Jake!

Joan Campbell

Imagine Dr Fiona Godlee of the BMJ relying on information from a journalist Brian Deer to prove herself. Crazy times.

Robin P Clarke (end of comment)

If the BMJ et al were genuinely acting without malice then they would have made certain that they sent the Deer articles to Dr Wakefield himself for prior review and potential rebuttal. This is the norm with any majorly critical publication in a scientific journal, indeed even just a short correspondence letter. Absence of such seeking of response by Dr Wakefield would in my reckoning be strong evidence of malice (as if we aren't already aware of enough).

Three Strikes ... and counting

I am greatly concerned in a number of areas -

1. The ethical handling of confidential medical records.

2. The non disclosure of conflicts of interest

3. The non disclosure or publishing of material provided by the accussed that may lead the general public to have a different viewpoint on the matters portrayed in the BMJ articles and editorial.

4. The use of confidential materials in articles.

5. The non correction of errors in accompanying editorials.

6. The admission by the senior editor that she was unaware of even some basic issues such as which companies manufacture vaccines in the UK (this was related to Conflicts of Interest statements)

7. ...and now finally the peer review process seems to have been clearly misrepresented.

I believe this latest one was the subject of commentary by the deputy editor Smith in a UK newspaper in which there was a denial thence referral to legal action ?

Perhaps someone with a better memory on this incident could clarify it for the general public.


Why should a journalist who thinks he is a gastroenterologist think that his work should be peer reviewed ,it has already been proved that Professor Walker-Smith has done nothing wrong , as a parent has said when the said journalist visited them why oh why does,nt anybody say anything against Andrew Wakefield i will tell him why because John Walker-Smith and Andrew Wakefield have been caring , understanding ,ultimately professional and are expert in their field , i always thought that a PROFESSIONAL medically would be peer reviewed by other professionals in their field ,


All I can say Jake is that I am glad you are on our side. I love the way you can dissect and eviscerate an argument to get at the truth. Well done again!


If every citation was verified, how come Andrea Barrow was "Andrea" in one footnote and "Anthea" in the next one?

Jenny Allan

My goodness Jake you are a 'terrier'. What a brilliant well researched analysis.

Monkey Business

None of them have the medical qualifications to review it either.

And Jake, go back an have a look at your discussion with Godlee at NIH. She got a lot wrong. And she does not seem to know much and seemed to just parrot in her presentation what Deer says.

The Mikado

The Lord High External Peer Reviewer, anybody?


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