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UK's Leveson Plays Cat and Mouse with Public Interest Over Murdoch MMR Investigation

Lord-Justice-LevesonUK's Leveson Inquiry plays cat and mouse with public interest over the Murdoch press investigation into MMR

By John Stone

When it comes to the MMR affair the UK’s inquiry into the conduct of the press and Rupert Murdoch’s News International media empire seems to have been biased, have hidden historical connections and to be anything but transparent. Four family members of vaccine damaged children who submitted evidence to the Inquiry have found themselves arbitrarily rebuffed at News International’s behest. Their concerns, based on publically available information, were:

-    The obtaining of confidential medical records by Sunday Times hired journalist Brian Deer  

-    Deer’s use of an alias when interviewing parents   and  Brian Deer's Use of an Alias Part 2,  

-    The circumstances in which Deer was hired by the Sunday Times to find something “big” on “MMR”  Open Letter to Sunday Times Editor 

-    That Deer and the Sunday Times did not make clear in the newspaper that he had personally initiated the prosecution against Wakefield and colleagues with a series of complaints whilst continuing to report the GMC hearing  

-    That Deer received advice from MedicoLegal Investigations, an agency with close connections to the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry 

-    That the Sunday Times/Times launched a new raft of articles  against Wakefield following the announcement of the appointment of News International boss, James Murdoch, to the board of MMR manufacturers and defendants GlaxoSmithKline in February 2009 

Faced with these important issues the Leveson Inquiry has simply chosen to draw a veil over the matter, while happily taking evidence that the press abused its role by reporting concerns about MMR safety in the first place. It is a remarkable and unhappy coincidence, therefore, that Lord Leveson and lead attorney for the Inquiry, Robert Jay QC , were both involved in blocking litigant families’ interests in the MMR proceedings.

Below is the joint statement of the four co-authors of the submission (which cannot be reproduced for reasons of confidentiality):

A key question of the UK Leveson Inquiry into press ethics is how independent will the inquiry be in the face of powerful press corporations such as News International and their media outlets. Set up last summer after revelations of a decade of phone hacking by the press, the Inquiry into the Culture, Practice and Ethics of the Press, chaired by Lord Justice Leveson, has come to be seen as a potential solution to unbridled press powers to intrude into private life. Whether it succeeds in establishing a new system of press regulation and legal rights against intrusion must await the publication of Leveson's report later this year. But our experience as four parents of autistic children who submitted a detailed account of the Sunday Times’ 7-year investigation into the 1998 Lancet paper by Dr Andrew Wakefield et al, demonstrates NI’s continuing power to influence the evidence submitted to the Inquiry and its agenda.

The Sunday Times investigation by journalist Brian Deer began in 2004 with the highly questionable act of obtaining without the consent of parents or the Royal Free Hospital the confidential medical records of eleven sick children whose anonymised clinical conditions the Lancet paper had studied. An act which was repeated in 2006 by another News International  paper, the Sun, who obtained and published confidential medical records of former UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown's son, Fraser. The Sunday Times investigation raised further questions which we put to the Inquiry. Given these events, The Inquiry’s initial response to our submission in November 2011 was to arrange for one of us to sign it as a statement of truth and then to call him to appear before the inquiry to give oral evidence on 6 December. But we, like other parents who have witnessed the press’ ongoing disregard for our cause, didn’t hold our breath. One week before his appearance, the parent was told the Inquiry no longer required his attendance.

On asking why, he was told by the Inquiry solicitors that the Sunday Times had exercised their right as 'core participants' to object to the witness statement. In fact they had successfully convinced the Inquiry that their version of events was different from the parents' submission and that Leveson would need to establish which version was accurate. However, assessing the veracity of competing statements was not within Leveson’s terms of reference and so the Inquiry rejected the statement and refused to publish it as part of its large body of evidence. The Inquiry moved in the space of a week or so from calling a witness to give oral evidence based on his statement of truth to rejecting his evidence in total.

The role of core participant was introduced under the 2006 Inquiry Rules and entitles a core participant to be designated a "person [who] played, or may have played, a direct and significant role in relation to the matters to which the inquiry relates", or has a direct interest in these matters, or is likely to be subject to significant or explicit criticism during the course of the inquiry. "In line with natural justice" (in the Inquiry solicitor's words when explaining the rejection of our submission), core participants have advanced sight of witness statements that refer to them. Nowhere does legislation mention the right of core participants to challenge evidence they are entitled to see. It appears that Justice Leveson has introduced this practice as a rule to be followed in his own Inquiry following arguments from News International’s lawyers. Having gained this new right, News International is now exercising it.

The Inquiry solicitors asked News International lawyers if they were willing to share their submission with the parent; but they refused. In sum, News International lawyers, supported by the legal nonsense of natural justice, have sight of the parents' evidence and then get it thrown out. The parents on the other hand are not allowed to see New International's argument for rejecting their evidence.

This travesty of legal rights is further compounded by Leveson's rhetoric about transparency. In his opening remarks on 28 July 2011, he referred to "the spirit of complete transparency which I intend should be one of the principal objectives of all of our work".

What is also surprising is that many of the 500 witnesses so far submitting statements or  appearing before the Inquiry have given evidence based on accounts that News International newspapers and other press outlets might object to. Yet these witnesses were given the opportunity to submit written evidence and be examined by Inquiry lawyers on their evidence. This raises a key question: how often have core participants successfully argued that the evidence of written submissions should not be accepted by the Inquiry? How many other potential witnesses have been excluded because NI or other core participants objected? Whilst the public continue to be deeply alarmed by the Inquiry's mounting revelations, they have no idea what other evidence of press misconduct is being kept from public view by legal manoeuvring behind the hearing.

Whilst Leveson has deemed the parents' evidence inadmissible, well-known witnesses have been allowed to publically criticise press reporting in the early 2000s of parents' and others' legitimate worries about MMR safety. Alistair Campbell, former Prime Minister Tony Blair's press secretary, said the media were "grossly irresponsible" in reporting the 1998 Lancet paper. Ian Hislop, editor of Private Eye, having published several investigative reports questioning the safety of MMR, recanted and "ran a mea culpa" retracting their earlier investigation of its alleged dangers . Ms Fiona Fox, for the Science Media Centre, referred to the MMR as "the best known example of how poor media reporting can cause harm" ,  . No mention in their accounts of the genuine worries parents have about MMR safety, the experiences of parents of autistic children who witnessed their child's regression closely following the jab, and of medical calls for a more cautious approach to vaccinations.

The involvement of individuals who have misrepresented the children's case in the media goes beyond these witnesses to Dr Evan Harris, the adviser to ‘Hacked Off’, the anti-Murdoch organisation formed in the wake of the media hacking scandal. Hacked Off has refused to explain the presence of former MP Evan Harris as its advisor . Dr Harris – who was also a member of the British Medical Association ethics committee at the time – accompanied Brian Deer to the Lancet offices on 18 February 2004 to ambush Wakefield and colleagues with Deer's findings from the confidential medical records of children obtained without consent. Harris wrote an editorial in the Sunday Times, accompanying Deer’s first allegations against Wakefield on 22 February 2004, and led a debate against Wakefield under cloak of privilege in the House of Commons on 15 March 2004.

When it comes to both the chairman and lead attorney for the Inquiry, Lord Leveson and Queen’s Counsel Robert Jay, it is troubling in this context that they have both played a role in denying the claims to justice of the MMR litigants. In October 2005, Leveson refused the parents' application for a judicial review of the decision of the Legal Services Commission to withdraw legal aid from their children's class action against MMR manufacturers  ,while the  Commission was represented at the original hearing before Sir Nigel Davis by Jay (‘R (Williams) v Legal Services Commission [article 6 and reasons challenge to LSC's decision to withdraw public funding for the MMR…]).  The judgments of both Davis and Leveson remains embargoed to this day, leaving the roles of Davis's and Leveson's thinking and Jay's evidence  obscure in this matter.

Martin Hewitt, John Stone, David Thrower & Bill Welsh (Links in the text have been added by AoA)

Related links:

Sir Crispin Davis and James Murdoch No Longer on GSK Board

Melanie Phillips, ‘A Deer in the Headlights’ Spectator

In Memoriam Paul Foot: Private Eye in an Ethical Tangle Over MMR

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

Hacked Off Boss, Martin Moore, Sat on UK Government Panel with Editor who Hired Brian Deer

Open Letter to Sunday Times Editor John Witherow: ‘We wouldn’t do fishing

 Brian Deer Hired to "Find Something Big" on MMR

Brian Deer Lords it at a Pharmaceutical Conference in France

Autism: the 64 billion dollar a year question for Simon Baron-Cohen, Ben Goldacre, Fiona Fox and Autism Speaks UK

An Elaborate Fraud, Part 1: In Which a Murdoch Reporter Deceives the Mother of a Severely Autistic Child

An Elaborate Fraud, Part 2: In Which a Murdoch Newspaper’s Deceptive Tactics Infect the British Medical Journal

Newsletter: MMR and MLI – MMR Sunday Times Investigation 22 February 2004



if this continues on for another 60 years, there will be no future generations


"Down the pipe,"for sure 16 years on..can`t be long now ...Thalidomide 20 years ..hey so what!!were here for the long term..20,40.60,years.... whatever!


Autism is the crime that will eventually bring down this insidious house of cards.

Big pharma, and their little media minions can play cat and mouse all they want. The truth about vaccine damage is out there, and it's too late to take it back. The number of victims is huge, and it is growing larger every day. Their pathetic lying ways might postpone things for while, but there is no way for them to avoid their day of reckoning.

It's coming down the pipe whether they like it or not. And the longer they cower in hiding, the worse its going to be.


Hi John,

Due to my health in the last year I have missed reading some of your recent articles, but as usual, I can always count on you to provide such excellent investigative journalism. I am just wondering if you have ever considered or tried to post your articles on Huffington Post or other news websites online? Especially since mainline "news" organizations are not going to publish anything related to vaccines and autism...even the ones that are not owned by Murdoch are still under the financial control of the pharmaceutical industry. IF ONLY THE PUBLIC COULD LEARN THE TRUTH!!!!

John Stone

So, according to this report in the Mail on Sunday Lord Leveson got very upset when the government's Education Secretary, Michael Gove, suggested that all that really needed to happen was for laws to be properly enforced.

Now, there's an original idea!


Cheers John for all that Leveson is no better than the rest of the crooks at the hearing quote Cameron on Leveson apointed to conduct the hearing" a safe pair of hands" truer words have never yet come from Cameron..



Brian Deer is a weak, cowardly man who pretends he's a journalist, when really he's nothing more than a puppet. A truly weak and pathetic man who has no mind for the truth, but is willing to sell his soul for a few thousand pounds (dollars).

Jenny Allan

From John Stone's article above:-

"In sum, News International lawyers, supported by the legal nonsense of natural justice, have sight of the parents' evidence and then get it thrown out. The parents on the other hand are not allowed to see New International's argument for rejecting their evidence."

John this "nonsense of natural justice" gets all 'dressed up' as a 'public interest' issue; this is something that Leveson et al have pontificated on from the start of the Inquiry. Basically, the press can publish almost anything and governments can suppress almost anything if this can be justified by 'public interest'. In the case of the MMR vaccine it seems that public confidence must be maintained at all costs in order to protect children from the 'dangerous' measles and mumps viruses. The following is an extract from Health Protection Scotland's reply to me in response to my letter expressing concern about the Scottish Governments MMR vaccine 'Catch Up' campaign in Scottish Secondary Schools:-

"MMR – risks and side effects

All vaccines carry the risk of side effects however this risk is significantly less than the risk from childhood diseases such as measles. It is a common myth that childhood diseases like measles, mumps and rubella are not harmful. 1 in 20 children who contract mumps will develop viral meningitis – a dangerous swelling of the brain, the risk of developing this as a side effect of the vaccine is less than 1 in 1,000,000. The complications of measles affect one in every 15 children and can include chest infections, fits, and brain damage. In very serious cases, measles can be fatal. Before the introduction of the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine in 1988, mumps was responsible for 1,200 hospital admissions a year in England and Wales. Although rubella (German measles) is generally a mild disease, when caught by pregnant women it leads to damage to the unborn baby in 90% of cases. This can include blindness; deafness; heart problems; and brain damage. The Centre for Disease Control in the United States has estimated that if measles vaccination was stopped worldwide about 2.7 million deaths a year could be expected."

This 'official line' contrasts greatly with the UK Government's 20 year press suppression of the terrible damage caused by the Urabe Mumps containing MMR vaccine, introduced into the UK in 1988, by a negligent health department which ignored warnings from Canada. This vaccine caused Robert Fletcher's terrible disabilities. It took his mum Jackie, founder of JABS, more than 18 years to win compensation for Robert. Information about the extent of this damage is still being suppressed. As for the 'dangerous' measles, there have only been 2 official measles child deaths following MMR introduction and these children both had serious co-morbidities which precluded them from being vaccinated.

There are safer single vaccinations available for all three diseases. This was the 'play safe' policy advocated by Dr Wakefield in 1998. Ignoring this sensible policy will go down in history as one of Mankind's biggest mistakes.


John this is an excellent article.
Moral, ethical, respecting the rights of others do no apply when it comes to autism and vaccinations.

What is frustrated is you dutifully put this all together - list the stuff that is wrong, explain it in detail ---

-----and then some boozooooo idiot cocks his head to one side and says: "My fahter when he was real young, from Finland - well his brother suffocated to death with diptheria."

And that boozooo idiot is a doctor.

John Stone

Angus - thanks, I had not seen this document. It is worth pointing out its breathtaking dishonesty. The reality is that in the 1990s the UK did not have lab capacity to confirm cases, so although confirmed cases certainly went up this is not in any sense a scientific measure. Indeed, from 2006 - prior to the GMC hearing - the public drive to detect cases was closely interwoven with anti-Wakefield rhetoric.

In this BMJ letter Hilary Butler quotes a c1997 report in which a UK health official, Roger Buttery, describes under-capacity for confirming cases in relation to the unreliability of reported statistics:

Another valuable review of the available UK statistics was performed by Ed Yazbak.

What Wellcome Trust are doing - quoting statistics completely out of context to manipulate public policy - is vile beyond words.

PS A websearch suggests that the article quoting Dr Buttery appeared in the Daily Telegraph of 8 January 1997.

Angus Files

Can anyone hold Leveson responsible for a faulty hearing ,cosy and chummy like,whith huge double standards .. can we complain ...

It seems the boot can be put in by WELCOME...but not us ...

6. Scare stories: There have been a number of examples in which some (though not all) sections of the press have promoted scares about matters of public health which are not well grounded in science. These have the potential to cause great damage. Such stories can seed public concern about medical interventions of proven and significant benefit over risks that are small or sometimes even illusory. They can also cause fear that is out of proportion to threats, which can itself cause stress and needless worry.
7. The most egregious example of such a scare was the prolonged misreporting of an alleged link between the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine and autism, following a press conference given by Andrew Wakefield in 1998. The result was a serious setback for public health: vaccination rates dropped as low as 61 per cent in some parts of London, and the number of cases of measles in England rose from 56 in 1998 to 1,370 in 2008.2 While Mr Wakefield shares the blame, the newspapers which championed him did much to stoke concerns.
8. Hype and false hope: The flipside of the health scare is the overcooked breakthrough

Deb Nash

Surely all your evidence makes a mockery of the Leveson Enquiry and all involved.
Corruption rules in this country.

Bob Moffitt

What deserves the greater "investigation"?

Media crimes that threaten an individual's privacy .. or .. media crimes that threaten the public health?

John Stone


Yes, unfortunately - or fortunately - I never got around to writing about Private Eye's snide handling of the John Walker-Smith appeal, which ignored the massive malfeasance and the obvious fact that Walker-Smith had been targetted to take out Wakefield in orde to emphasise the judge's not well-informed remarks about MMR which it printed in bold type. There were two reports in Private Eye at the time of the GMC findings, of course, and Judge Mitting's findings pretty much torpedoed the commentary of their medical correspondent Phil Hammond.

There is no doubt, however, that Hislop would have lost out massively at a professional level if he had continued to follow the Paul Foot line after Foot's death. On 'Have I Got News For You' he is one of the BBC's biggest and brightest stars, but it could all go...

Jenny Allan

I too wrote to Leveson about Murdoch's Sunday Times and the BMJ fabrications, lies and misinformation concerning the Wakefield et al/MMR/autism issues. I was very angry about Leveson's refusal to take account of the parents' concerns, whilst apparently giving credence to the anti Wakefield mutterings of ex-Communist Revolutionary party and now neo marxist, Fiona Fox, whose Science Media Centre is in existence to 'push' government and corporate agendas including nuclear power and GM foods. The ravings of- unseated by his constituents- ex MP Evan Harris, were also given preference by milord. The unfortunate Ian Hislop was effectively bullied into his 'mea culpa' admission over the Wakefield reporting:-

This is from the Greenslade Guardian Blog:-
"Is this as close as Private Eye ever gets to a mea culpa?
Friday 5 February 2010
“In its print article (not available online) the Eye briefly summarised the GMC findings but focused to a curious degree on the reaction of the parents to the verdicts.
"Several parents of the children who featured in the team's original research papers, which was at the centre of the GMC case, stormed out of the hearing in angry protest at the findings – particularly the suggestion that their children's tests were not clinically necessary. Others were in tears."
The Eye goes on to point out that the parents of the children had never complained about Wakefield and that they were not called to give evidence. Why is this such a prominent part of the story?”

Well, Ian Hislop plainly showed both fairness and compassion in his Private Eye reporting and he should be commended. In view of Lord Justice Mitting's verdict following Professor Walker-Smith's appeal against the GMC verdict, which found the 1998 Lancet children were all diagnosed and treated in accordance with clinical need, and the scathing comments by the Judge concerning the 'inadequate and superficial' examining of the evidence by the GMC, I think Leveson should take another look at this issue in the light of this new evidence.

I intend to write to Lord Leveson after all the present political hubris, which has put Prime Minister Cameron 'on the spot' has died down a bit.


I'm trying to imagine a parallel in American justice. It seems UK inquiries and Congressional hearings have in common that they are not true court proceedings and can make up their own rules. This was done during the Clarence Thomas hearing in the US as well as the Watergate hearings. The Watergate hearings were obviously very politicized, nailing Nixon and co-conspirators with trivial charges and crimes which were peculiar to Nixon and friends but playing a tablecloth trick and leaving untouched the true crimes of the administration related to illegal invasions, bombings and massacres-- the things which could have landed Nixon and Kissinger at Nuremberg charged with crimes against humanity. The reason these much greater crimes remained untouched was to leave the option to future administrations to commit the same illegal acts (and they have) and to leave unindicted past administrations which had done in kind.

Clearly there were secret meetings regarding the parents' claims to the Leveson Inquiry and it was decided that, as some kind of vague government operative, Deer was not to be touched. I assume that, like in the US, vaccination has been brought under the protective mantle of defense from bioterrorism and national security-- a nice shield for all devious, depraved little rats to hide behind.

John Stone


We were not, of course, grateful to Hislop for his hugely gratuitous and ill-informed contribution on the MMR issue, but on the issue of legality a government minister, Michael Gove, discomforted Leveson the other day by making exactly the same point. In fact, the bits of Gove (who I had previously not much cared for) that I saw were rather impressive.

However, the trouble is that the police and the Information Commissioner seemed to be able to turn a blind eye when it suits them, and that is not legality, particularly where private medical records and legal documents are concerned. It is executive abuse.


What is the true purpose of the Leveson Inquiry?

According to Brian Gerrish - and (Common Purpose exposed):

"More dangerous in my opinion is the ongoing Leveson Inquiry which clearly seeks to introduce state controls over the media, and many believe, all free press and web media besides.

If such state media control were to be imposed, then our ability to expose the corruption, criminality and warmongering of this treasonous Westminster would be greatly reduced, if not prevented.

All dictatorships like to do their dirty deeds in the dark and the LibLabCon is no different. Leveson has loaded his 'independent' panel with Common Purpose cronies, who have already set up their 'independent' Media Standards Trust (MST) to police the media and press.

Intimately hidden in politics, police, Information Commissioner's Office, Audit Commission, Cabinet Office, Local Government and Courts, and more besides, Common Purpose is now poised to control our media by the MST. We allow this corrupt step at our peril. Warmongering against Iran or not.

Credit where it is due, Private Eye's Hislop is correct in saying....
“I do think that statutory regulation is not required. Most of the heinous crimes that came up and made such a splash in front of this inquiry have already been illegal.

Contempt of court is illegal, phone tapping is illegal, policemen taking money is illegal. All of these things don't need a code, we already have laws for them.

The fact that these laws were not rigorously enforced is again due to the failure of the police, the interaction of the police and News International - and let's be honest about this, the fact that our politicians have been very, very involved in ways that I think are not sensible with senior News International people.

Hislop said he hoped that inquiry chairman Lord Justice Leveson would call Prime Minister David Cameron and his predecessors Tony Blair and Gordon Brown to give evidence.

Of course the UK Column would rather Cameron, Blair and Brown were called to face treason charges. "

who is really behing the leveson enquiry:’s-common-purpose
To understand the behavioural modification based political charity that is Common Purpose :

John Stone

Just to emphasise that approaching the Leveson Inquiry was a big collaborative exercise on the part of the four of us, involving a meticulously prepared and documented submission, which cannot alas be coherently reproduced because it has so much confidential material in it. What I did do was author the introductory paragraphs of this report to sketch in what the exercise was about, but the hard work was collective.

Mark Struthers

Billy Bragg's quote …

"It would shine a torch into the dirty little corner where the BNP defecate on our democracy, and that would be much more powerful than duffing them up in the street - which I'm also in favour of."

…. was quoted in Jonathan Freedland's Guardian piece in February 2004,

Long Live Billy Bragg!

Mark Struthers

Thank you for your enlightening investigations, John. As you know, the Leveson Inquiry is destined to be disappointing in the real extent of its enlightenment. Lord Leveson should be shining a torch into that dirty little corner where Murdoch and his disciples defecate on our democracy … and that would have been much more powerful than duffing them up in the street - which is what I would like to do - and which is the only real alternative that his Lordship is likely to give us. *

* Paraphrasing a quote by left wing rock star Billy Bragg, whose plan to reform the ‘House of Lords’ would likely have admitted the British National Party (BNP), a bunch of fascist racists, to the House.

Victor Pavlovic

The Inquiry has become yet another coverup, in a series of coverups when it comes to vaccine injury.

Joan Campbell

I agree with Seonaid, it is atrocious that our children are once again being brushed under the carpet. The older I get the more injustice I see, It's a cruel world for lots of us left with our vaccine injured children. Add your voice to my site of over 1,200 voices of vaccine injury at

John Stone


The whole think is utterly unaccountable: the problem is pretty much that the journalist himself has bragged about all this stuff so it is fair to ask what is New International could say in its defence.

Of course, the other critical point is the public interest defence but when you see what Mr Justice Mitting made of the GMC prosecution (which he noted at the Walker-Smith hearing was driven by a Sunday Times journalist) then you wonder what good can really come of unqualified person accessing this material. But I think it is correct to say that Leveson also had the opportunity to consider Mitting's judgment before final refusal.

Alli Edwards, UK

I would also like to draw attention to the fact that in 2011 the UK Govt under David Cameron committed £815m of UK tax payer's money at GAVI the Global Alliance of Vaccination and Immunisation Conference Along with other countries, this IS a nice big earner in hard times if you're a chum on the Board of vaccine makers, ie GSK!


Brilliant thank you John, and Martin Hewitt,David Thrower & Bill Welsh! Having a son who was damaged by MMR and MR vaccines, I have been waiting with baited breath for the Leveson enquiry to reach the point where investigation would be carried out into the parts played by Brian Deer and the Sunday Times and all the other personalities involved in the MMR cover up. It is becoming increseaingly obvious that this 'enquiry' has no intention of going there. We are expected to tolerate yet another cover up and altenative agendas, but why? For the 'greater good'? To maintain take up of MMR vaccine? To protect reputations? To ignore all damage done by this vaccine? This enquiry is fast losing all credibilty.


'Four family members of vaccine damaged children who submitted evidence to the Inquiry have found themselves arbitrarily rebuffed at News International’s behest.'

Laying the responsibility for the decision at the feet of NI is entirely in keeping with the government modus operandi.


Did anyone mention any "conflicts of interest?"

"It's not what you know, but who you know!"

Thanks John.

Elizabeth Gillespie

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