Prof Walker-Smith Cleared and the Beginning of the End for Allegations Against Andrew Wakefield
The exoneration of John Walker-Smith – a great and good man - is the best news our community has had for years. For years Prof Walker-Smith, himself, has stayed well clear of the MMR controversy but the truth is that he was drawn with Prof Simon Murch into politically motivated allegations against Andrew Wakefield by journalist Brian Deer and Liberal-Democrat politician Evan Harris under the auspices of the Sunday Times.
Deer, himself, recollected in the British Medical Journal being approached by Sunday Times section editor Paul Nuki to find something “big” on MMR, and was later to come to an exotic arrangement with the General Medical Lawyers not to be named as the complainant against the three doctors while continuing to report on the matter. Nuki was apparently the son of a doctor who sat on Committee on Safety in Medicines when MMR was introduced, and he was eventually to leave the Sunday Times to run the UK National Health Service’s main website, NHS Choices. It was the misconstruction of events by Deer, Harris and the GMC which has led to years of purgatory for not only Walker-Smith, Wakefield and Murch but for thousands of children denied proper medical investigation and treatment as a result of the witch-hunt. It is worth noting that the UK Leveson Inquiry, set up to look into media abuse and particular the affairs of News International has so far refused to look in to any of these matters.
Meanwhile, the BBC in an act of doublethink of which only it could be capable has pronounced the 1998 Lancet paper still “discredited” on the day that along with Prof John Walker-Smith it has been completely exonerated.
There is no doubt that the lies and hypocrisy will continue, and of course now it is not only the Murdoch owned media that is implicated. But it is a huge victory.
John Stone is UK Editor for Age of Autism.
Janice says "Sadly, I do not believe that this will lead to the exoneration of Dr. Wakefield."
I think the role of High Court Judge, Justice Mitting, has been misunderstood by some of Andrew Wakefield's supporters. Professor Walker Smith's appeal was against the GMC verdict, which found him guilty of 'subjecting' the Lancet 12 children to unnecessary and invasive clinical procedures. Of course, Prof Walker-Smith and his colleague Dr (now Prof) Murch were clinicians doing their very best for the sick children referred to them, including my grandson.
Dr Wakefield was NOT clinically involved with the Lancet 12 children, but was based in his research laboratory. Most of the parents signed a form which gave permission for Dr Wakefield to receive some EXTRA biopsy and other samples obtained via clinical scopes and scans.
The charges against Dr Wakefield were similar to those levelled against Profs Walker-Smith and Murch, but differed in several crucial ways. In any case, Justice Mitting had NO remit to exonerate any of Prof Walker-Smith's GMC 'co-defendants', nor was it any part of the judge's remit to pronounce on the MMR vaccine issues. However, Justice Mitting's FULL written judgement and conclusion is very scathing about the GMC's "inadequate and superficial reasoning and, in a number of instances, a wrong conclusion". Justice Mitting also states this applies, "both on general issues and the Lancet paper and in relation to individual children"; he made it plain to the GMC's Counsel "This must not happen again" http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWHC/Admin/2012/503.html
Many of the Justice Mitting's criticisms of the GMC can also be applied to their handling of the evidence against Dr Wakefield, in particular Justice Mitting's expressed disapproval of the 'inadequate and superficial' way in which the GMC examined the evidence, but unfortunately Dr Wakefield's insurance company refused to cover the costs of his own proposed High Court appeal against the GMC verdict, so his unfair GMC deregistration still stands.
I think it is up to those of us who support Dr Wakefield to study Justice Mitting's written judgement(above) and present verbal and written arguments based on this to lobby our politicians and the GMC to provide a 'pardon' for Dr Wakefield. How about a petition? The GMC has been forced by a number of unjust scandals to reform its procedures. Not before time.
Posted by: Jenny Allan | April 11, 2012 at 02:08 PM
Sadly, I do not believe that this will lead to the exoneration of Dr. Wakefield. The plan all along was to let the others off and use Wakefield to frighten any other 'truthtellers' from challenging the vaccine industrial complex. Forget about the 'conspiracy theorist' label - I'm afraid these conspiracies are all too real. Since the beginning of time greedy people have destroyed anyone who gets in the way of their profit.
Posted by: Janice | April 11, 2012 at 12:54 PM
Fiona Godlee must now step down as editor after completely ignoring the parents and disabled children , some now adults.
Particular concern focusses on the BMJ not obtaining ethical approval from those parents in regards to a number of issues pertaining to the release of medical records.
This was a professional judgement lapse that has serious ramifications for the continuing integrity of the BMJ and collaboration with members of the general public and the disabilities community.
Letters should be addressed-
BMA House, Tavistock Square, London WC1H 9JP
Telephone: 020 7387 4499
Posted by: Fiona Godlee time madame. | March 08, 2012 at 06:42 AM
The Governments MMR wall shall fall one day sooner the better for all..delighted for JWS ..WE FIGHT ON!!
Posted by: Angus Files | March 08, 2012 at 04:45 AM
Hear! Hear! Deborah - my feelings exactly. Congratulations to Prof. Walker-Smith, his family, patients and their families. Judge Mitting is a beacon of hope that justice can prevail and that the 'truth will out' even if it is long, hard road.
Posted by: Sil | March 08, 2012 at 02:51 AM
Thanks John for keeping on top of this saga.
The outcome was brilliant and no doubt there will be quite a bit of rejoicing on your side of the world,(there is in our household).
Much appreciate it!
Posted by: AussieMum | March 08, 2012 at 02:39 AM
Justice Mitting has 'done a Deer' in his published judgement. He has taken each of the Lancet 12 childrens' cases as 'judged' by the GMC and totally demolished the GMC's conclusions!! He has accomplished this in a few short weeks as compared with the GMC's three convoluted years.
In finding Professor Walker-Smith innocent of all the GMC charges, Justice Mitting has also 'exonerated' the 1998 Lancet paper. It states VERY CLEARLY in the paper that JWS compiled the childrens' medical histories. Dr Wakefield, as a laboratory based research scientist, had no imput into any clinical decisions regarding these children. Jake Crosby is correct in stating the Lancet should now 'unretract' this paper.
The BMJ also now must do the 'decent thing' and retract Deer's 'Secrets of the MMR scare' articles, along with all the Godlee & Co vindictive editorials alleging fraud by Dr Wakefield in his reporting of this early study, and latterly 'scientific misconduct' by all or most of Dr Wakefield's co authors.
Posted by: Jenny Allan | March 08, 2012 at 02:17 AM
This is the turning point for the Autism children and their dedicated parents .. it has taken a lot of effort by so many people to get the wagon through the mud .. now you are rolling .. How nice to see the under dog throw the bully .. God bless you all.
Posted by: Ivor | March 08, 2012 at 01:19 AM
John Thank you for all your digging and keeping all of us informed.
A quote from a post that you, John, made earlier today:
"Just to say, which I didn't above is that people who did this to Prof Walker-Smith and to our children are some of the most disgusting and vile who have walked the earth. They do not care about anything apart from their power, their pockets and their backs."
My Comment: "You sure have a way with words"
Posted by: Paul Shapiro | March 07, 2012 at 10:26 PM
So good to hear this news.Let this be the beginning of a better future for our children.
Posted by: oneVoice | March 07, 2012 at 07:14 PM
There is still a quibble by the judge over ethical approval. He says the statement is wrong, which is highly debatable. Individually, the investigations had ethical approval but the paper did not and did not need it. However, it is a very different position from saying that ethical approval needed to be obtained under protocol 172-96 - a very serious matter had it been true, but wasn't.
If the Lancet was to use that as a pretext for not restoring the paper it would of course be deeply pathetic, but I wouldn't put anything beyond them.
Posted by: John Stone | March 07, 2012 at 05:55 PM
Love the picture for this story. Very fitting! Now on to clearing Dr. Wakefield.
Posted by: Mary | March 07, 2012 at 05:44 PM
Time for the editors of The Lancet to retract their retraction, now that their reasons for it have been proven to be false:
"Following the judgment of the UK General Medical Council's Fitness to Practise Panel on Jan 28, 2010, it has become clear that several elements of the 1998 paper by Wakefield et al1 are incorrect, contrary to the findings of an earlier investigation.2 In particular, the claims in the original paper that children were “consecutively referred” and that investigations were “approved” by the local ethics committee have been proven to be false. Therefore we fully retract this paper from the published record."
Posted by: Jake Crosby | March 07, 2012 at 05:26 PM
Sour grapes from the GMC's press release.
Delighted with our victory, Thanks again John
Posted by: Joan Campbell | March 07, 2012 at 04:07 PM
Huge victory for our children and their good doctors. Thank you so much John for your continued reporting.
Posted by: Theresa Cedillo | March 07, 2012 at 03:57 PM
You of all of us here have no need for despair. Your work on this site is proof of a man who cares and a man who does something about injustice. Thankyou once again.
Posted by: Patricia | March 07, 2012 at 03:33 PM
Yippeee!!! The sun is shining a bit brighter today. So glad to wake up to such good news for the children on the planet. John, you often don't post my comments since we don't always agree on how things will resolve out in the futre.... But please hear and feel my mutual and deeply felt sigh of relief that something is going in the right direction today. Let the floodgates open.
Posted by: maggie | March 07, 2012 at 03:29 PM
Yes!!! Thank you for keeping us up-to-date.
Posted by: Birgit Calhoun | March 07, 2012 at 02:51 PM
The court found that, contrary to the GMC, the procedures done on the children were clinically indicated and undertaken for the benefit of the patients. But the court did find this statement in the Lancet paper to be untrue: "Investigations were approved by the Ethical Practices Committee of the Royal Free Hospital NHS Trust, and parents gave informed consent."
According to the court, no Ethical Committee approval was granted, but on the other hand, no Ethical Committee approval was needed because the investigations were clinically driven. Walker-Smith was at fault for failing to ensure that the offending sentence was removed.
To my American mind, that seems like pretty small beer indeed.
Posted by: Carol | March 07, 2012 at 02:38 PM
On May 25, 1987, Ray Donovan, a former high level official of Ronald Reagan's administration .. was acquitted of all charges that he had been accused of by the Bronx District Attorney's office. After his charges were dismissed .. Ray Donovan was famously quoted as asking, "Which office do I go to get my reputation back?"
The question that Donovan then asked still resonates whenever someone has been unjustly prosecuted in the United States .. and .. John-Walker Smith has every reason to ask the same question of both .. the media and GMC .. who collaborated in ruining his reputation in the U.K.
Posted by: Bob Moffitt | March 07, 2012 at 02:29 PM
Just to say, which I didn't above is that people who did this to Prof Walker-Smith and to our children are some of the most disgusting and vile who have walked the earth. They do not care about anything apart from their power, their pockets and their backs.
Posted by: John Stone | March 07, 2012 at 02:15 PM
Thank you for your excellent reporting and updates. This is truly wonderful news. What a great day for truth and justice.
Posted by: Stop Big Harma | March 07, 2012 at 02:15 PM
A great day indeed John. And a proud day for all supporters of integrity, truth and Justice. Thankyou John for all your fine reporting.
Posted by: Patricia | March 07, 2012 at 01:19 PM
I hope when people read about this they realise there is something very sinister and fundamentally wrong about any politically motivated allegation against any innocent individual.
It should be a signal that the whole issue must be investigated further!
Posted by: Deborah Nash | March 07, 2012 at 01:19 PM