Read the Full UK Court Decision in John Walker Smith MMR Autism Appeal
Thank you to our friends at Child Healthy Safety for providing the full Court decision at their site.
English Court Exonerates MMR/Autism Doctor – UK General Medical Given Sound Thrashing
Here is the full judgement of the court today: Neutral Citation Number:  EWHC 503 (Admin) Case No: CO/7039/2010 IN THE HIGH COURT OF JUSTICE QUEEN'S BENCH DIVISION ADMINISTRATIVE COURT Royal Courts of Justice Strand, London, WC2A 2LL 07/03/2012 B e f o r e : MR JUSTICE MITTING ____________________ Between: PROFESSOR JOHN WALKER-SMITH Appellant [...]
Read the full Decision at Child Health Safety
[sorry I do not know where to ask this question about Dean Zuckerman 's role ; and since his name appeared in this not too old article , I dared post here ]
"Count III alleges that then Dean Zuckerman falsely denied his knowledge that Dr. Wakefield would, if asked at the press conference accompanying publication, recommend the single (monovalent) measles, mumps, and rubella vaccines as a precautionary measure until the safety of MMR could be further examined. Dr. Zuckerman's claim that he was unaware that vaccines would be discussed at a press conference accompanying publication was false because he had specifically instructed Dr. Wakefield to urge continued use of the monovalent measles vaccine as a safer alternative to MMR. Attachment 2 is Dr. Zuckerman’s Jan. 22, 1998 letter instructing Dr. Wakefield to recommend the monovalent vaccines at the post-publication press conference (“It is vital, in your own interest and that of children, that you state clearly your support for monovalent vaccination.”)."
Since A. Wakefield did have such a letter from Mr Zuckerman , It should have been easy [ ???] for him to prove the lies of dean Zuckerman . I have not heard this happened [ or it did?] What happened ? That seems very important to me .
Posted by: Fever | August 10, 2012 at 11:46 AM
I just want to say goodbye, and thanks for your considerate replies. I do feel as if I have received an enlightening trip to a place that I would not normally find myself. It may be the rhythm of this blog space does not support extended conversations of this kind, and my postings are no longer sent through.
Best wishes in the personal journeys that you have shared with me.
Mark Bell, Middle School Science Teacher
Posted by: Mark Bell | April 20, 2012 at 07:56 PM
Quoting from _Deceit and Denial_ by Gerald Markowitz and David Rosner:
"In addition to withholding information, some industries, including lead and vinyl, have reassured the public that their products are benign by controlling research and manipulating science. Throughout much of the twentieth century, most scientific studies of the health effects of toxic substances have been done by researchers in the employ of industry or in universities with financial ties to members of that industry."
Posted by: Carol | April 18, 2012 at 06:03 PM
"Critique of the 6 epidemiological studies used to exonerate thimerosal containing vaccines
That's a pretty good link. I read through it and it suggests that orthodox studies on thimerosal safety can be impeached. It's by a bio PhD, which cannot hurt.
I'm still alert to the chance that someone has data showing autism has decreased post-thimerosal. With changing definitions of autism, that looks a little harder than I thought. Perhaps someone can use a consistent definition and find out that way. With the numbers as large as they are you'd think that would be fairly straightforward.
"I wonder how he reconciles this in his own mind with injecting vaccines containing thiomersal, almost 50% Hg by molecular weight, into tiny babies with developing immune systems."
This is an example of scary phraseology that doesn't relate. I did see the "50% Hg" posted, perhaps on Bolen. But the percentage of mercury is not relevant. What's relevant is how many micrograms are injected and how strong the evidence is that those micrograms are a danger to the tiny baby.
In my lab I do not actually have any mercury but the data sheets do describe it as causing nerve damage. The symptoms of mercury toxicity are significantly different from autism. That doesn't, by itself, invalidate the postulated thimerosal-ASD link but it does show how simply arguing that mercury causes nerve damage doesn't establish the connection by itself.
Posted by: Mark Bell | April 17, 2012 at 06:25 PM
It's gratifying to receive compliments from a 'Quackwatch' delegate. Mark Bell's question is, "are there any studies, preferably refereed in journals, that show an attendant decline in autism? That is what I would expect to see, and I would expect it to be newsworthy."
Well, as Mark Bell appears to acknowledge, since he includes a separate link in his post, Tim Bolen is something of an expert when it comes to dissecting so called scientific and epidemiological studies purporting to 'debunk' any autism/ vaccine links. I commend the following for Mark's (any anyone else's) appraisal:-
Critique of the 6 epidemiological studies used to exonerate thimerosal containing vaccines
Mark Bell calls himself "a member of Orthodox Science" whatever that means; perhaps it's some kind of club. Some very notable scientists including Darwin, Einstein and Semmelweiss were all, at some time, widely vilified for their 'unorthodox' discoveries. Mr Bell will be well aware of the dangers of mercury; his school science laboratory will have a raft of health and safety regulations pertaining to the use of any chemicals containing this element. I wonder how he reconciles this in his own mind with injecting vaccines containing thiomersal, almost 50% Hg by molecular weight, into tiny babies with developing immune systems. This still happens with influenza vaccines and a whole raft of vaccines flogged off to third world countries.
As for the press and media reporting any 'newsworthy' adverse vaccine news, forget it!! Pharma advertising revenues and sponsorship ensures this does not happen. Poul Thorsen, very much involved with instigating and collating the Madson et al epidemiological autism/vaccine research, was indicted in the US on more than a dozen charges of fraud and money laundering, involving cash from US taxpayers and the charity 'Autism Speaks'. This attracted almost no news coverage; as yet the US prosecuting authories appear in no hurry to extradite Poul Thorsen from Denmark to face the charges.
Posted by: Jenny Allan | April 17, 2012 at 04:58 AM
We cannot be held responsible here for every loose statement that's ever been made from our side. Rather more to the point is that you have adopted a position and now you are trying to think "on the hoof".
There are many problems with Taylor paper and one is that it does not test anything Wakefield said. Wakefield never said that all autism was caused by MMR but we have no evidence from Taylor's data that none of it is. But also, of course, epidemiology - even if it was more plausibly conducted than this - cannot show that the vaccine is not causing it in a subset of cases.
Of course, Wakefield wanted to investigate what might be happening in a subset of cases, and look what they did to him.
I think you are just proposing a general hypothesis that people who have concerns about these issues are bad or inadequate people (quite unlike you): on the other hand they may know a lot more about it than you do with your "worldview".
PS It may not be so polite if you just go round regarding people as stupid. They may have more practical experience, thought longer about it, know more about the chemistry and the biology, or the data than you do.
Posted by: John Stone | April 17, 2012 at 04:42 AM
Question, in my normal polite vein: I noticed a link (see below) from this site that said
"If you think about it, there are only two questions that need to be answered to solve the Autism problem: (1)What's really causing it? and (2) how do we fix it? Of course we know the answer to the first question (vaccines), and we are working on the second one."
He goes on to say this is due to thimerosal.
He goes on further to say that thimerosal has been removed from many vaccines worldwide.
My question is, are there any studies, preferably refereed in journals, that show an attendant decline in autism? That is what I would expect to see, and I would expect it to be newsworthy.
Posted by: Mark Bell | April 17, 2012 at 12:35 AM
"Good luck with it.
And after you have it all figured out--- what do you plan on doing with this knowledge?"
Thanks. Of course, as a member of Orthodox Science, I will never have it "all figured out!" But I know you said that in a kind way and I appreciate the question.
I look at probabilities. With the issues we've been discussing, it's necessary to look at the cultures too, since there are so many studies, graphs, data sets, anecdotes and beliefs that I find myself disappearing down the rabbit hole.
Stepping back, can the anti-vaccine culture persuade me that orthodox science (also a culture) has been twisted in a vital way, tearing it from its ethical roots in the service of financial gain? That's the question.
I'm a contrarian. I love discovering things, that the mainstream believes, that aren't true. But I do invest a lot of effort to validate those discoveries. I worked the JFK conspiracy circuit for a while and could personally test some of their claims. I stood in the window next to Lee Harvey Oswald's and studied the scene below: "Could I make those shots?" With a similar rifle (out in the desert) I could. Some conspiracy folks could not accept that so I was freed from having to spend further time on them.
The nice thing about that example is I could easily falsify some claims. Of course, that doesn't prove there was no JFK conspiracy, but at a minimum it makes it possible that Oswald could have done the deed alone.
Wakefield is a tougher case because I have to study the data in the Taylor paper and see if Wakefield's counterclaim can be true. Should I find I can defend the Taylor data personally, then I can probably dispense with Wakefield and support Quackwatch.
I doubt that would carry the day here but I'd have reached a personal mastery of one corner of the data, enough to do work with.
And your question! What would I do with this?
I have no one that has autism. I do have students from time to time who are spectrum. I've thought of taking certification in autism education since I've been able to entrain my mind with some of those students and do good work. (But I have no experience with severe.)
I'm a science teacher, so what I do is take what I find and harness it in my work. These dialogues may become an important part of that - an example of how such conversations can flow, of how clashes of cultures have some hope of resolution, of how there can be a coming-to-terms of emotion, anecdote, evidence, studies and scientific analysis. And how following the money - on both sides - helps explain the interface between politics and science.
"A path with heart - searching, searching breathlessly..."
Posted by: Mark Bell | April 17, 2012 at 12:03 AM
Good luck with it.
And after you have it all figured out--- what do you plan on doing with this knowledge?
Do you have someone that has autism?
Do you have someone you think might have been injuried by a vaccine?
I will take it as a compliment to John Stone, and Jenny Allen, and Angus because they are thoughtful and intelligent people that have had their children damaged.
As a matter of fact there is a wide range of people on this site, for vaccine injury knows no social class. We even have a senator called Dan Burton that witnessed a vaccine injury to his grandson. Senator Dan Burton had a lot to say about how people float out of government agencies (CDC, NIH, HHS, FDA) into big paying pharma jobs.
There is a lot going with vaccine that is crooked.
A true thinking humanbeing would have to wonder if they really are that slow, esp when we are telling them what we have seen and yet are being ignored, and Dr. Wakefield railroaded.
Posted by: Benedetta | April 16, 2012 at 09:16 PM
OK, those are some good links - a clean Wakefield posting with references and a link to the critical Taylor article. So I'll look at them with care.
Thanks for rolling with me that I wasn't that other guy.
I've yet do do any ad hominem, I think - I'm not saying people who disagree with me are stupid. I did use words like "alternative." And I did say Conspiracy, but painted my side with the same brush of Significant Capitalization.
Moreover, I acknowledged that there is persuasive stuff on the anti-vaccine postings, both here and in the abundant internet sites dedicated to the topic. I have found the persuasion most often is based on visual graphs with postulated correlations, emotional videos and testimonials. The anti-vaccine community almost always speaks of conspiracies, or are at most one click away from sites that do so with vigor. Can you really say I'm wrong on that?
The anti-vaccine community has also become something of an economic engine, with costly diet therapies, books for sale and abundant moneymaking opportunities. I have personally witnessed these at the recent Long Beach Health Freedom Expo, with many vendors and Wakefield as a speaker.
Do I say they don't work, or are frauds? No, I cannot - too broad a brush. But they are assuredly as linked to the financial world as is Big Pharma, although not at the same scale.
Now, switching to a serious compliment: your recent postings are as close as I have seen to actual, traditionally-validatable scientific responses to my concerns with the anti-vaccine community. Quoting Wakefield, in Lancet, as a response to me is solid and thoughtful. Wakefield in turn had references in the traditional scientific world. Assessing those will take me a little time and may in fact tax my skill.
So again, I am heartily against the broad anti-vaccine community as represented on the Internet. But you have produced something of consequence which I must now deal with.
I hope you take that as a compliment.
Posted by: Mark Bell | April 16, 2012 at 08:06 PM
It does indeed look as if I owe Mark Bell an apology over confusing him with a namesake.
As to the rest, he really must stop engaging in ad hominem and telling other people what they think in a way which suits him.
Posted by: John Stone | April 16, 2012 at 06:50 PM
It is always helpful to ensure that links to scientific papers actually work!! My attempts to activate your Taylor et al link brought me (via Google) to Andrew Wakefield's response via his letter to the Lancet published 11th September 1999:-
MMR vaccination and autism
Andrew J Wakefield
"Hypothesis testing and presentation of the outcome—either positive or negative—is a fundamental part of the scientific process. Accordingly we have published studies that both do,1 and do not2 support a role for measles virus in chronic intestinal inflammation: this is called integrity.
Brent Taylor and colleagues (June 12, p 2026)4 have ignored the rules. They are inappropriately didactic in their conclusions, despite the weakness of their method and the contradictions in their data.......(and the last bit)......In a timely BMJ newspeice,5 Begg who is described as a leading virologist, calls for MMR research to be terminated on the basis of Taylor and co-workers' report and a non-peer-reviewed so-called analysis in Current Problems of Pharmacovigilance. Clearly there are some things that may end-up being terminated as a consequence of these events: research into the possible link between MMR, autism, and bowel disease is not one of them."
For those interested, here is the link to the Taylor et al Lancet paper:-
It's interesting to read that 13 years ago the BMJ was also attempting to stifle debate and research into possible MMR vaccine/autism links. Dr Wakefield seems to have been rather too optomistic in his then assumption that such research would continue. Meanwhile, autism cases continue to rise exponentially!
Posted by: Jenny Allan | April 16, 2012 at 06:42 PM
Sorry - I forgot to mention I'm not the same Mark Bell person cited in a February posting. I'm a different guy - so I hope that helps clear up that problem. At least it means I'm consistent.
If you don't like the Taylor paper, I got it from Quackwatch, so again, that may shed light on my worldview. That word again - but it does have predictive value for how one approaches data of the sort we're describing.
Responding to John Stone's links (thanks), the vaclib site offers graphs visually showing vaccine-ASD links. While these do not contain R values (statistical degree of correlation), they are visually persuasive. Yet following a link from there gets me to the statement "… rubella (congenital rubella syndrome) is one of the few proven causes of autism.“ How an anti-vaccine crusader derives support from that requires a measure of faith. Congenital. That means the mother had rubella. That then means vaccines for the child cannot be the cause of *that* case of ASD. But, so goes the logic, if rubella can cause ASD for the foetus, then a vaccine with that ingredient plausibly could cause it in toddlers. Yes, worth investigating. But studies don't seem to bear that out as a cause.
The anti-vaccine sites frequently present graphs and other persuasive evidence. But so far I haven't seen one that continues through to answering the kind of questions I'm mentioning here.
And to the ad hominem. My critics have been pretty good, but I'm now getting accused of "hot air." That might just be the confusion between me and the February posting. Yet here, my tone has been gentle and respectful, though with a measure of persistence. And when I spoke of Conspiracy Theorists, I capitalized just as I did for Orthodox Science People. Therefore that's not ad hominem either. The great majority of anti vaccine people I encounter hold that the actions against, say, Wakefield are a conspiracy, differing only on the size ascribed to it.
Remember, great and growing profits are also being earned by the Wakefield believers and others delivering alternative autism treatments. You cannot deny that there is money being made on that side too.
Posted by: Mark Bell | April 16, 2012 at 06:27 PM
More posturing hot-air from Mark Bell, who offers no explanation of his comment two months ago saying the precise opposite: obviously some intent to ingratiate himself as part of a project which never came to fruition. Of course, he isn't even embarrassed. Why does someone who behaves so deviously then come out with the ad hominem about conspiracy theorists? He may be a small player but he does not stop at the most blatant dishonesty. As we know from his February post he knows quite well what this is about really.
The Taylor paper is not a good example of anything and if Bell knew anything it is the last paper he would cite. The most fundamental problem with it is that there is no control group. As Cochrane 2005 stated:
“The study demonstrates the difficulties of drawing inferences in the absence of a non-exposed population or a clearly defined causal hypothesis”.
Among the confounders in the exponential rise (off the top of my head 24 times in 14 years) not listed are the rise in uptake for measles and pertussis vaccines betwen 1979 and 1988, retrospective MMR campaigns post 1988, the accelerated DPT schedule with 150 micrograms of thimerosal in 1990, and HiB in 1992.
Posted by: John Stone | April 16, 2012 at 05:43 PM
"but no one here is saying the Walker-Smith exoneration also exonerates Dr Andrew Wakefield." I respect that statement. Thanks. I've seen the Wakefield exoneration made a number of times on other sites that cite the Walker-Smith judgment. This site plays host to a more thoughtful level of discussion.
"Bell uses 'worldview' too much." It is a fair assessment of what I'm saying that one's conceptual framework has an important effect on how one interprets the evidence we're discussing. "Worldview" is a nice shorthand, for it is a short hop from there to Believing in Orthodox Science, or Battling the Pharma Conspiracy.
I did try to be helpful by mentioning what my worldview was. Showing my colors. Sometimes, that is sufficient for people to skip my comments entirely since I might be coming from an unwelcome quarter. Others work with the things I've said, and I appreciate that.
If you're looking for a reference from my conceptual framework (reproducible, and yes, orthodox, refereed research), here's a Lancet paper that held that there isn't any MMR-ASD connection, with a good large sample size and solid methodology: Taylor B and others. Autism and measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine: No epidemiological evidence for a causal association. Lancet 353:2026-2029, 1999.
Posted by: Mark Bell | April 16, 2012 at 04:49 PM
I think we can all agree that Mark Bell uses the word "worldview"...too much.
Posted by: Carol | April 16, 2012 at 11:33 AM
More about the Golden Calf from the BMJ (Clare Dyer 2 April 2012):-
'Collaboration with drug industry won’t affect clinical decisions, says new guide
'Doctors are being urged not to be “tempted to accept the negative myths about cooperating with industry” in a new guide to promote collaboration between healthcare organisations and the drug industry to improve care of patients in the United Kingdom.
'The guidance is supported by organisations representing the industry and by healthcare bodies including the BMA, the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges, and the royal colleges of GPs, physicians, and psychiatrists. The Department of Health for England, the NHS Confederation, and the governments of Scotland and Wales also back the guide, which is aimed at … '
So, I am sure that it is gratifying, after expressing his reservations two months, Mr Bell is gleefully joining in the obscene dance.
There is btw an excellent response just published from a group of Australian academics.
Posted by: John Stone | April 16, 2012 at 10:47 AM
I note your comment on AoA just two months ago:
'Thank you for the kind invitation. I cannot make it on this occasion but I hope and the event will be successful in contributing to the effort of restoring Dr Wakefield and his colleague's reputation which was strangely and worryingly seriously undermined by a media representative and the British medical council causing great personal suffering on the part of these medical professionals who were merely doing their noble work as medical professionals. However, we know that when your work crosses the path of the large financial golden calf of drug companies and their minions in media and political circles then there is hell to pay. Yet truth in the end always prevails and light disperses the darkness.'
So, we wonder what is going on here. Has money, in fact, changed hands?
Posted by: John Stone | April 16, 2012 at 06:36 AM
Mark Bell says:-
"It follows, emotionally, that if Walker-Smith is exonerated, that the Wakefield worldview should therefore be correct. But the judgment does not say that."
Mr Bell, I assume from this you are implying that those of us who dispute the statements and philosophies of 'quackwatch' are reasoning with our emotions; but no one here is saying the Walker-Smith exoneration also exonerates Dr Andrew Wakefield. I think it CAN be assumed rationally, that Justice Mitting's scathing assessment of the 'superficial' 'inadequate' and on occasions just plain 'wrong' GMC panel's examination of the so called 'evidence' and the conclusions drawn, could equally apply to the evidence against Dr Wakefield, but this would require another judge to deliberate over, what in many cases, were separate charges and evidence. Dr Wakefield was employed by the Royal Free as a researcher, NOT a clinician.
As John Stone pointed out in his earlier post:-
"A more important question that we could reasonably ask of all these events is why was it nececessary for the GMC to find a host of things against the three defendants which had no basis in the evidence, and could be dismissed out of hand by an experienced High Court judge?"
In one of my earlier posts I have called for a UK Government Inquiry into the issues surrounding this scandal. This has about as much chance of being implemented as that proverbial biblical camel going through the eye of the needle, but in a TRUE democracy the issues of WHY the GMC was prepared to waste an estimated £7million on this three year convoluted hearing, is very much in the public interest to know. Who picked up this huge tab? If this was paid for via registered doctors' annual subscriptions, then this was surely a wasteful misuse of the money? If the medical insurance companies paid for this then every doctor and surgeon in the land faces increased subscriptions...and it's NOT over yet. Professor Walker-Smith's insurance company will be looking for all their expenses back, and compensation for the distress caused to this distinguished elderly physician. No doubt Professor Murch's insurance company will be looking for similar expenses and compensation, since the charges were the same and Prof Murch was admonished by the GMC.
Why 'drag' these two excellent clinicians before the GMC at all? This was PURELY on the evidence and complaints of Brian Deer. No parent complained; most were profoundly grateful for the treatments and care received by their children. This is the 'crux' of the matter, since the GMC is SUPPOSED to be purely about maintaining patient safety, and Dr Wakefield, as a researcher with NO clinical access to the children, could not be 'struck off' by the GMC purely on the basis of his research methodology and findings.
Yes it's very significant that Dr Wakefield is the ONLY one of the three GMC 'defendants' to question the safety of the MMR. I think we are all entitled to 'unemotionally' draw our own conclusions!!
Posted by: Jenny Allan | April 16, 2012 at 06:25 AM
Everything that was actually being tested in the Walker-Smith appeal was found to be untrue, and although these things were only being tested in respect of John Walker-Smith, it is very hard to see how they could be true about Simon Murch or Andrew Wakefield either. Not everything that was found by the GMC was tested - Simon Murch did not appeal because the panel let him go and Andrew Wakefield did not appeal because the insurers would not support it.
Nevertheless if the panel came to so many unsupported conclusions, it is pretty reasonable to ask what they were about, and clearly in inception Walker-Smith had been drawn into an attempt by a certain journalist and a certain newspaper to take down Andrew Wakefield, and it is evident that this involved a great number of spurious claims about a research study which was never done, alleged unauthorised investigative procedures, claims the sick children were in fact healthy. In order to make these utterly bogus claims against Andrew Wakefield they had to be made against Walker-Smith and Murch too, since the subjects in the paper were their patients and not Wakefield's (and they were signatories to the paper). And now a judge has ruled what many of us here always knew, which was in respect of the things being tested in the appeal they were virtually all found to be untrue.
Of course, it does not surprise me that there are people like you trying to have their cake and eat it: that somehow you can continue to stick all this stuff on Wakefield although it has no factual basis, but it is a shabby and hypocritical exercise. Someone who was concerned about something as opposed to BS, waffle about Western culture and hiding behind wretchedly conducted epidemiology - in fact a whole fatuous evercise in grandstanding - would actually want to know what the hell was going on. They would want to know why they have been lied to, they would want to know why the GMC had to make out that sick children were well, they would want to know why the father of the discipline of paediatric gastroenterology was hung out to dry for 8 years, for just doing his job.
The only thing to be said about Western culture is that it does not on the whole behead, burn or gas intellectual dissenters anymore, it just ostracises them. But the real victims are our children because instead of free and open scientific discussion about what has happened to them and what they need, we have had institutional shiftiness, an inquisition and everyday coercion and lies. They are the ones suffering the barbarity.
Posted by: John Stone | April 16, 2012 at 05:12 AM
Let's see if I can help out a little. I can't help with the emotional concerns that surround theories about ASD. I cannot help a full-blown conspiracy theorist, for anything I say would be construed as Coming From One of Them. So for you I can only leave you in peace.
If you're still with me, I first of all thank the moderator for Age of Autism for letting me be here. I realize I offer a worldview that may be in a minority in this forum.
1. I am not getting paid for this. I do come from the conventional scientific world. While not a medical researcher, I have for the last five years been a middle school science teacher. Before that I was in high tech for a couple of decades. So this means I do not possess any sophisticated credentials! My words - and references - must therefore stand for themselves.
2. My point in my earlier posting was to warn against those in the alternative community using this judgment as an exoneration of Wakefield's point of view. It is not that, and the quotes I cited were to make that point. The judge stipulated that there isn't any conventional scientific support for Wakefield's MMR-ASD thesis.
3. So, as I'm admonished that "It is hard to cover up the truth ain't it," I want to summarize what truths have emerged from this judgment and our commentary:
A. Walker-Smith was exonerated, for reasons fairly summarized in other comments. His practice was ruled ethical and the proceeding against him overruled. Those who ruled against him were criticized.
B. No exoneration whatever for the MMR-ASD link has happened here. It follows, emotionally, that if Walker-Smith is exonerated, that the Wakefield worldview should therefore be correct. But the judgment does not say that.
4. Other postings were "And lets face it this is all about the MMR, which must on no account be criticised or perhaps more important questioned." and "I hope this legal decision paves the way for future research which will prove the vaccine/autism connection."
MMR has been questioned in depth, in many countries, and continues to be. Questioned? Of course, and criticized too! I'm sure that this research has been intensified because of Wakefield and the appeal that testimonials and videos hold on the popular mind. This certainly extends to politics, and hearings before legislators in the US and elsewhere.
What conventional science has found, alas, shows no demonstrable link. Speaking succinctly of MMR vaccine and ASD, no differences are found in ASD incidence before and after the introduction of widescale vaccination. Those who hold that ASD is on the rise cannot correlate it to the onset of these vaccines.
5. My focus is the difference between testimonials and epidemiology. Testimonials are direct. Should you witness one, they communicate purely and emotionally. Should you have personal experience, that is of course stronger still. But epidemiology is almost the antithesis of that - abstract, numerical, unemotional, uninvolving. What unfortunate combatants they make.
6. It is in the nature of the scientific enterprise, as a human enterprise, to act in error, sometimes in stupidity, and perhaps sometimes in outright evil. However, the essential thing about this enterprise, and why it has come to nearly define Western culture, is that it contains within it the means to correct these errors. Thus, after the fits and starts, it does make progress, although sometimes painfully.
7. Finally, let me leave a word for those who focus on conspiracies. Wakefield's wife said "My husband has been persecuted by extremely powerful forces for asking questions that his research findings made it morally and ethically essential for him to ask." The conspiracy worldview energizes that statement, animates it, and in turn draws strength from it. Yet I ask this: is it not true that many, many studies have asked the questions he's asking? Yet those that are reproducible, those that withstand intense scrutiny, haven't found what he said he found. So either the conspiracy is breathtakingly powerful and thorough, or she's describing the feelings that result from being on the losing end of an argument.
8. Again, I thank the kindness and courtesy of the moderators of Age of Autism. I will offer references for any statement here, but you should know they might come from Quackwatch and the like. (Just trying to save you time and help you assess my contribution.)
Posted by: Mark Bell | April 16, 2012 at 01:26 AM
Of course, it was the manufacturers that withdrew the vaccines, not Dr Salisbury or the government - not to mention the JCVI and the CSM.
To me it is beyond comprehension that none of the defence lawyers at the GMC took him up on his claims at the GMC. Too gentlemanly by half.
Posted by: John Stone | April 15, 2012 at 08:02 AM
The following may be of interest,
Quotes by Carmel Wakefield from an article entitled, 'Vilified by the MMR zealots', published in the Mail on Sunday in October 2006,
"My husband has been persecuted by extremely powerful forces for asking questions that his research findings made it morally and ethically essential for him to ask" ... "I used to believe that this country was a bastion of academic integrity and intellectual freedom. So this whole sad process of attrition, isolation and vilification, on a very personal level, has sickened and disillusioned me" ...."The endless stream of lies told by powerful people in positions of great public trust is horrifying."
And the stream of lies, from those powerful people in positions of public trust ... went on ...
... and on ...
Quote from Andrew Wakefield in the opening of this clip:
"The two of the three vaccine brands that were introduced in 1988 had to be withdrawn for safety reasons and yet Dr Salisbury in his statement to the GMC sums up by saying this is a vaccine with an exemplary safety record. Well, if that is his idea of an excellent safety record then we have a very different perception he and I of vaccine safety."
Posted by: Mark Struthers | April 15, 2012 at 07:53 AM
This in his own words,is how Justice Mitting came to his conclusion regarding Professor Walker-Smith. As I stated in my previous post the clinicians were simply doing their jobs, diagnosing and treating sick children. My grandson was part of a later batch of children so treated. My family has nothing but praise for the excellent care provided by the Royal Free clinical team led by JW-S.
From the written Mitting conclusions:-
"It (the GMC panel)had to decide what Professor Walker-Smith thought he was doing: if he believed he was undertaking research in the guise of clinical investigation and treatment, he deserved the finding that he had been guilty of serious professional misconduct and the sanction of erasure; if not, he did not, unless, perhaps, his actions fell outside the spectrum of that which would have been considered reasonable medical practice by an academic clinician. Its failure to address and decide that question is an error which goes to the root of its determination."
Posted by: Jenny Allan | April 15, 2012 at 07:47 AM
I think again the judge was giving a superficial narrative of matters that he did not need to make his mind up about. The reality is that AW was co-operating with head of the medical school, Ari Zuckerman, a staunch defender of the vaccine programme, in taking part in the conference. What Zuckerman wanted was for AW to endorse single vaccines which were at the time an option on the National Health, though the issue was politicised and the option withdrawn in the months which followed. But it was Zuckerman's press conference. I am not surprised that JW-S and SM stayed clear, and AW was just being helpful.
Posted by: John Stone | April 15, 2012 at 07:36 AM
"... However, Walker-Smith specifically advised Wakefield to not take the public stand he did against the vaccine since the evidence did not support it" ...
This is a curious statement from 'Mark Bell'. In the context, what can he have meant by it?
In recommending single vaccines at the press conference after the Lancet Paper was published in February 1998, Andrew Wakefield apparently defied Professor Walker-Smith's advice ... because he had an 'opinion' about the safety of the MMR vaccine in general and its inadequate safety record. I guess the point is that Andrew Wakefield was put on trial, and Walker-Smith along with him, for having an 'opinion' about the safety record of the MMR. Because of their 1st Amendment protections, Americans will have found all this very difficult to understand, as Andrew Wakefield explains in this extract from Alan Golding's interview during the GMC trial (2007 - 2010).
Of course, the evidence that Andrew Wakefield's 'opinion' had a strong basis in fact, goes to the very heart of the matter. I suspect that John Walker-Smith sensed the dangers ... and the dark forces that lay behind those dangers.
Posted by: Mark Struthers | April 15, 2012 at 07:09 AM
Mr Justice Mitting was giving background information to the case. The literal point is that this was not a 'disputed fact' in the case. Mitting asked the Walker-Smith's attorney what the position was, and it is unlikely that he had any special knowlege, particularly given his following remarks on the autism gut hypothesis, which were not particularly well-informed or up to date. So, anyhow, Mitting was not being asked to make up his mind about that, and presumably if he had have been he would have had to look at the issue more deeply.
A more important question that we could reasonably ask of all these events is why was it nececessary for the GMC to find a host of things against the three defendants which had no basis in the evidence, and could be dismissed out of hand by an experienced High Court judge? And lets face it this is all about the MMR, which must on no account be criticised or perhaps more important questioned. What is it about this product which has elevated to its sacred quasi-theological doctrinal status (supported by a professional inquisiton)?
The hypothesis is puerile. Why should we all have to believe? Personally, I would be much more inclined to trust medical products where public discussion hasn't been brutally suppressed by professional persecution, pseudo scientific discourse, bad journalism and orchestrated public relations bullying.
Posted by: John Stone | April 15, 2012 at 03:57 AM
Mark Bell says :-
"It is quite complex to describe why he (Prof Walker-Smith)was exonerated - you almost have to read the judgment to get that".
No Mark Bell, I have read Justice Mittings written judgement and the issues are perfectly simple. The Judge's decision accepted Professor Walker-Smith's contention that the treatments and diagnostic scopes and scans, carried out on the Lancet12 children, were all clinically indicated.
In other words, Professors Walker-Smith and Murch were simply doing their jobs which involved making clinical decisions. These decisions did not require ethical approval. Eleven of these children were all referred via their GPs for investigation and treatment of their bowel problems. (The twelth child was from the US).
Posted by: Jenny Allan | April 15, 2012 at 03:30 AM
When exactly did Dr. Wakefield hypothesize that MMR/autism/entercolitis casually linked? Not Lancet 1998. Au contraire. So Mitting got that tiny sidebar wrong. Big deal.
What have you done today to mitigate vaccine injury, and/or determine etiology of ASD? Nothing, right?
Until you figure out where all this ASD is coming from, you are paving the way for pseudoscience. It's on you, SFB.
Posted by: Ottschnaut | April 15, 2012 at 01:31 AM
Walker Smith did not go through the pretend (BMJ) court system like Dr. Wakefield did - but a real sure enough one!
It is hard to cover up the truth ain't it.
It just keeps popping up don't it, no matter how hard you stomp it out.
You gettin paid for this, Mark Bell?
Posted by: Benedetta | April 14, 2012 at 10:08 PM
The judge did exonerate Dr. Walker-Smith, who had lost his license over the Wakefield MMR affair. But I think many of the autism-vaccine people are seriously misrepresenting what the judge did.
It is quite complex to describe why he was exonerated - you almost have to read the judgment to get that. However, Walker-Smith specifically advised Wakefield to not take the public stand he did against the vaccine since the evidence did not support it.
In a section of the judgment called "Undisputed Facts," the judge says "Dr. Wakefield’s statement and subsequent publicity had a predictable adverse effect upon the take up of MMR vaccine of great concern to those responsible for public health. There is now no respectable body of opinion which supports his hypothesis, that MMR vaccine and autism/enterocolitis are causally linked."
Posted by: Mark Bell | April 14, 2012 at 08:28 PM
I hope this legal decision paves the way for future research which will prove the vaccine/autism connection. I am sorry that Professor Walker-Smith and Andrew Wakefield have had to suffer so much for being nothing but honest and professional. Maybe we will look back at this case in 10 years and be able to say "This was the turning point." I applaud the integrity and bravery of the judge in this case as well.
Posted by: Jean | March 10, 2012 at 10:19 AM
After this (brilliant) decision, do you think that there is hope for a UK Government Inquiry?
From my perspective from "down-under" this has opened the flood gates for further inquires, so it makes you wonder, what is "BIG PHARMA" plotting for a come-back!
Posted by: AussieMum | March 08, 2012 at 02:46 AM
Based on the finding that the GMC's entire premise, that the case study was related to a Legal Aid Board funded protocol (172-96), was incorrect,it seems it sets a president that, for the most part, would have to lead to the same decision for Dr. Wakefield if he were to appeal.
Posted by: Pamela | March 07, 2012 at 11:35 PM
Wow. Thanks for posting the actual decision. It makes one wonder just how much bloody, loose, pale, and watery diarrhea containing undigested food particles a child (with or without autism) must experience in order for a gastroenterologist to be able to justify doing a colonoscopy procedure in England. Seven times per day with severe pain apparently isn't enough to ring any alarm bells in the UK. Shameful. All of it.
All the best to you, Professor Walker-Smith. You have been through more than I can imagine. May you have wonderful, gleefully happy days ahead.
Posted by: Not an MD | March 07, 2012 at 01:29 PM
I'm still ploughing through the transcripts explaining the reasonings behind Justice Mitting's verdict, which exonerated Professor Walker-Smith of all the GMC charges against him.
In just a few days of court hearings, followed by several more deliberating the evidence, this judge has delivered an extensive very well reasoned and expressed written judgement, which I thought was a very damning indictment of the GMC's so called 'due process'.
In view of the fact that the GMC hearings took three years and cost an estimated £7million, there are VITAL questions to be addressed regarding WHY this hideously convoluted 'trial' was ever convened at all, and WHY were the words of a Murdoch hired journalist preferred by the GMC, to the words of an internationally renowned pediatric gastroenterologist? This merits an URGENT UK Government Inquiry.
Posted by: Jenny Allan | March 07, 2012 at 01:27 PM
I love this part of the judgment:
"It is in its findings on the clinical issues in the individual cases of the Lancet children that the most numerous and significant inadequacies and errors in the determination of the panel occur. In no individual case in which the panel made a finding adverse to Professor Walker-Smith did it address the expert evidence led for him, except to misstate it. The issues to which this evidence went were of fundamental importance to the case against him. Universal inadequacies and some errors in the panel’s determination accordingly go to the heart of the case. They are not curable. Unless the remainder of the panel’s findings justify its conclusion that Professor Walker-Smith was guilty of serious professional misconduct, its determination cannot stand."
Drink that in: "In no individual case in which the panel made a finding adverse to Professor Walker-Smith did it address the expert evidence led for him, except to misstate it."
Posted by: Carol | March 07, 2012 at 11:58 AM