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She’ll Have a Good Life

University College London Pulls out of Holding an Inquiry into the Wakefield Affair

MMR-doctor-andrew-wakefie-001By John Stone

Eighteen months after University College London, the parent institution of the Royal Free Hospital, announced their intention of holding an inquiry into the “Wakefield affair” in a controversial BBC radio documentary they have finally backed down according to a report by Zosia Kmietowicz in British Medical Journal. The decision represents a particular defeat for BMJ and its editor Fiona Godlee, who had been pressing for the inquiry after long delays in setting up. At one point Godlee – in November 2011 - appealed in vain to the UK House of Commons and Science and Technology Committee to take over from UCL, but UCL insisted that a chairperson would be appointed and terms of reference published by the end of the year. This never happened.

Now Kmietowicz reports:

“In a paper on the development of its new framework, UCL said that after taking advice from the UK Research Integrity Office and “a senior legal figure” it concluded that “the net result [from an investigation] would likely be an incomplete set of evidence and an inconclusive process costing a substantial sum of money.”

However, she fails to mention that this follows the complete exoneration of John Walker-Smith, the senior author and clinician in the 1998 Wakefield-Lancet paper, in the English High Court earlier this year. Sir John Mitting threw out all the findings of the General Medical Council against Walker-Smith hearing where he had stood accused with Andrew Wakefield and Simon Murch – while Murch as the more junior clinician had been allowed to resume his career after the three year hearing, Wakefield was not funded as Walker-Smith had been to pursue his appeal, and it presently lies in abeyance. The charges against all three were entirely based on accusations by journalist Brian Deer whom the Sunday Times had originally sent on a fishing expedition against Wakefield.

Though only Walker-Smith was cleared Mitting established with legal force that many of the accusations of Deer, which had subsequently been re-hashed by him as fraud allegations against Wakefield in BMJ, were without foundation. It was shown that the children in Wakefield paper had been seen and investigated purely on the basis of clinical need, that the paper had not been funded by the Legal Aid Board, that it was as described an early report and not based on a research protocol and that the histories were accurately reported, as had been the means of referral. These findings were accepted by the GMC, and not challenged by the Council in the Court of Appeal.

This must surely have been the final unspoken nail in the coffin of the UCL inquiry but things were obviously already beginning to unravel last November when BMJ refused to publish the report of into Deer’s allegations by distinguished US scientist David Lewis of the National Whistleblower’s Center and the matter was taken up in Nature News by Eugenie Samuel Reich. Lewis forwarded his investigation  both to UCL and UK Research Integrity Office, mentioned by Kmietowicz in her report. While Lewis has been subjected to shameful abuse by Deer and others there is no doubt that he has won the day.

John Stone is Contributing Editor for Age of Autism.



Jenny Allan

Just for your interest:-
Along with quite a few others I complained to the BBC about THAT UK Science Betrayed Radio 4 programme. This is from the reply I received dated 15-04-11:-

"Thanks for contacting us regarding "Science Betrayed" broadcast on BBC Radio 4 ON 24 March I understand that you feel this programme was inaccurate in that new documents have come to light which suggest Dr Wakefield was innocent.

While I appreciate your concerns, all our programmes are carefully considered in advance to ensure their content is suitable for broadcast, accurate and informative. At the time of broadcast the allegations against Dr Wakefield which led to him being struck off by the General Medical Council were still, technically, correct. We were simply covering the story from this perspective but I'm sorry you found this inappropriate."

What a cop out!! These fraud allegations were all made by Godlee and Deer NOT the GMC. Godlee also attempted to 'smear' all of Dr Wakefield's co-authors during the programme. In view of Judge Mitting's scathing comments regarding the GMC's 'superficial and inadequate' and often just plain 'wrong' examination of the so called evidence against the three doctors, I think an apology should be made by the BBC and presenter 'professional geek' Adam Rutherford, who accused Dr Wakefield of paranoia, but pronounced 'irrelevant' the notorious Merck e-mail directing the pharma 'flying monkeys' to "seek out and destroy where they live" any researchers who dare to raise concerns about medications or vaccines!!

Rutherford was recently seen on a BBC 'Horizon' programme on genetic engineering, which featured goats whose milk was stated to contain silken threads from spider genetic material and a bunch of university students mixing up assorted DNA in test tubes!!

This rubbish reeked of Fiona Fox from the Science Media Centre and her UK Government 'brief' to promote GM foods and technology. I don't know whether to laugh or cry!! So far Europe has resisted allowing GM food into the human food chain, but Monsanto is very poweful and, like big pharma, money talks.

Mark Struthers

For Wayback Machine

I guess we can assume that the BMJ had archived this resource before the editor-in-chief had had a chance to read it.

Wayback Machine

The Wayback machine reveals all ...


Mark Struthers

Those who have listened to 'Science Betrayed', the execrable radio documentary ...


... put out in March last year, will have noted that Dr Ben Goldacre (aka Bad Ben of Bad Science) was absent from the gang of medical establishment goons put up by the BBC to further demonise Andrew Wakefield in the eyes of the general public. This was odd because Bad Ben had recently declared his undying devotion to Deer ...


... and everything he'd done to Andy Wakefield.

Mark Struthers

For 'Visitor'

Trish's libel link doesn't currently link to any treatise on libel at the BMJ. There is no policy on libel. The perceived threat of libel is simply a device the BMJ editorship use to excuse the non-appearance of negative comment about their nefarious hypocrisies, double standards and canoodles with corrupt corporations. I think Trish should follow her leaders along the gang plank ...

Fan of Jake

Brian Deer’s BMJ Series Not Peer Reviewed


"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."

On the BMJ webiste Marcovitch is listed as http://www.bmj.com/about-bmj/editorial-staff/harvey-marcovitch

Harvey Marcovitch

"Harvey Marcovitch was an NHS consultant paediatrician for 25 years and is an honorary fellow of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, for whom he was Press and Public Relations Officer for 15 years. Previously a gossip columnist and features writer on the now defunct World Medicine, he was editor of Archives of Disease in Paediatrics, from 1994-2002, syndications editor for BMJ Publishing Group from 2000-2008 and is currently an associate editor of BMJ."

I could not find any mention of peer review in terms of expertise in autism spectrum disorders , gastroenterology , immunology , neurology ...

Nor could I find any research articles at PubMed.

I also searched for Godlee and once again came up empty handed.

Perhaps I'm missing a logical explanation for all that has been noted ?


Trished - Guardian UK - 15 January 2011 8:44PM


Just a few clarifications:

1. Brain Deer's articles for the BMJ were commissioned and peer reviewed, as stated clearly at the end of each article. For instance see http://www.bmj.com/content/342/bmj.c5347.full which says at the end "Provenance and peer review: Commissioned; externally peer reviewed."

2. The accompanying editorial was not peer reviewed - and that's usual practice for in-house editorials.

3. Here is the BMJ policy on libel:

Competing interest: I'm a deputy editor at the BMJ.


Why did Trish Groves not tell readers the following information ?

"Before joining the BMJ I trained in medicine at London’s Royal Free Hospital School of Medicine and then specialised in psychiatry, gaining MRCPsych in 1989. In 1998 I was an honorary research fellow at the School for Public Policy, University College London."

Mark Struthers

Those who have listened to the appalling BBC radio documentary entitled 'Science Betrayed' ...


... will have noted that Fiona Godlee co-starred with such medical establishment notables as Brian Deer, Lancet editor, Richard Horton and GSK business superstar, Professor Sir Mark Pepys.

In 2001, Sir Mark founded 'Pentraxin Therapeutics Ltd' (UCL spin out company) with extensive support from GlaxoSmithKline, "one of the world’s leading pharmaceutical companies" ...


... and the UK-based corporation that recently accepted fines of $3 billion, after admitting three counts of criminal behaviour in the US courts.

Pepys is precious. At 22:00 minutes into the documentary Professor Pepys pompously prattles thusly,

"One of the activities he [Wakefield] wished to pursue was in relation to a company he himself set up, together with others ... and as far as I could gather, the role of this company was to commercialize various treatments for complications of measles vaccination and MMR vaccination ... including treatments which in my opinion were not scientifically robust, for example the use of transfer factor, something which was always very controversial ... comes from an earlier era of immunology, certainly not the current era, and which has long been discredited as something which is a viable scientific or medically acceptable procedure. So I wasn't at all happy that anybody in my department should be involved with that, or try to promote it, particularly in the context of an alarm about safety of vaccination, which had originated from the same source."

You really can't make this stuff up ... and I didn't. Listen for yourself! What do you think? Rubbish? Of course it is! But is it possible that Pepys has simply shaken hands with the Devil?


Those are very good questions.
And let's us know just how "little" we are to the big people.


Did not one of the BMJ editors 'threaten'legal action against people asking for transparency of the BMJ peer review process.

One that now seems to be highly problematic for those that signed their names to it.

Perhaps someone could ask Richard Smith this interesting question of using 'legal action' to squash transparency.


It may be an opportune moment to remind fellow professionals that the 'persecuted' also have rights in law.

No more poignantly emphasised that "investigative journalism" is sometimes devastatingly in error than when all GMC findings against Professor John Walker-Smith were quashed by the UK High Court.

"I particularly applaud the introduction of indepth investigative journalism."

Just some quick questions for Richard then

How many medical articles has the BMJ published, that would assist doctors and other medical professionals in furthering the knowledge and care of children diagnosed ASD since 2005 ?

How many of these related to new discoveries in the gastrointestinal aspects of ASD children ?

How many related to findings relating to neuroinflammation and associated neurological findings ?

How many related to immune system dysregulation ?

How many related to epilepsy and outcomes in ASD children ?

How many to other co-morbid conditions ?

Here's a hint - Do your own search at BMJ and you'll be unpleasantly surprised

Mark Struthers

Smith was BMJ editor before Godlee, and Richard Smith was always "sensitive" about libel. However, Smith has just written that,

... "some of what was defamatory was about a dead person, and you cannot libel the dead—except in Utah."


... which I guess was why he threw caution to the wind ... and disgracefully defamed the name of the late David Horrobin.*


Beam him down, Utah!

* Wikipedia = http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Horrobin

Mark Struthers

"I don't want to sound holier-than-thou about this - we all make mistakes", said Fiona Godlee at 14:17 minutes into the BBC's disgraceful radio documentary called 'Science Betrayed',


Of course, the editor-in-chief at the BMJ had thrown caution to the wind, knowingly defamed Andrew Wakefield, and probably made the biggest mistake of her life.

However, Godlee's predecessor as editor is an insensitive character called Smith. Smith has just written a blog about the BMJ's apparent "sensitivity" to libel,


You just have to laugh out loud! Dr 'TrickDicky' Smith writes,

"Editors thus need to be very careful to avoid publishing something that could lead to a libel action. Caution is appropriate."


"There is no doubt that the consequences of a libel action can be disastrous for a journal ... Even if the case is won the journal may not be able to get its costs back. In short, a successful libel action could destroy a journal."

Doing drug deals with the Devil? Why has Godlee been so foolish and behaved so incautiously?

Media Scholar

Perhaps another chapter in Dr Wakefield's life someday, to be completely exonerated.

Actually, he has been completely exonerate provided one scour the medical history of the past. Simply put no one dares to read the literature...friend nor foe.

As George Orwell wrote, "He who controls the past controls the future. He who controls the present controls the past."

Exercising "self" control is always the key. Rather than reading the book, let the book read you.

Long before Dr. Wakefield came along doctors knew precisely that co-infections or too closely-spaced infections by any of the neurologically-active viruses (Measles, Mumps, Rubella, Chicken Pox, etc.) increases the risks of developmental delays (Autism).

They also knew the set-backs would not necessarily be spontaneous and are often difficult to detect the younger the subject's age is.

People are learning that we really need to put vaccines behind us. The drug companies know their days of legitimacy are already finished. World-wide they've lost their ability to produce any more scamdemics. Laws that outlaw vaccines are next.

Wouldn't it be nice to shop with the peace of mind that you no longer had to walk through the wall of Influenza infection to get in the door?

Happy Flu Shot Season! Let it shed! Let It shed! Let it shed!(Yack, Yack)

Jeannette Bishop

Thank you, Mr. Stone, for explaining these events in more detail.

Perhaps, someday, some of these people will explain how coming to the truth about the disabling and suffering of hundreds of thousands of children and efforts to prevent and relieve such suffering somehow was lost in all these considerings.

Thank you to the few like Dr. Wakefield, Professor Walker-Smith, Sir Mitting.


It is interesting to note that-"Wakefield was not funded as Walker-Smith had been to pursue his appeal, and it presently lies in abeyance"

Perhaps another chapter in Dr Wakefield's life someday, to be completely exonerated.

Elizabeth Gillespie


Yes Mr Deer seems rather quiet these days are his lies catching up with him , the gmc did not go to him he went to them and that is well documented you should see the film Selected Hearing it comes with the book SILENCED WITNESSES 2

John Stone

It looks as if Liz Wager has recently left COPE - probably very recently since the site biog still credits her with being Chair, nor does the history page yet mention her successor Virginia Barbour of Plos (which publishes Seth Mnookin's blog).


Wager is still on the BMJ ethics committee and an advisory board member of UKRIO:




I feel like a child who has suffered abusive parents, and still holds out some hope that they will turn around and apologize. Of course, abusive parents don't apologize, and the abusive medical/media establishment doesn't seem to be ready to do that either. Ahhh it is so painful to realize we are orphaned. If not for Wakefield no one would have ever even questioned vaccines. I am eternally grateful to him that I looked in the direction of biomedical causation. Wakefield, John Martin of USC, and a few others led us in our darkest hours. When everyone else was encouraging us to "get real" and to turn our children over to the special education establishment or to big pharm where everything is remedied by ever larger doses of Adderall; they put us in the direction "gut/brain" and viral overload. It's still to wee hours of the morning, and dawn seems like it will never break.

John Stone


I fear I only turned up the UCL and UKRIO material after seeing your comment (now gone) in Dan's column this morning. I thought of holding back the article, which was already written but in the end decided it was simpler to add some comments later (being pressed for time).

Of course, the UCL report is little better than a professional foul. Whether anything in it is actually untrue they are obviously falling over backwards to be unfair and damaging. They mention in detail the findings of GMC but do not say that they are true.

Of course, they don't mention Lewis or Justice Mitting's High Court judgment, anymore the Kmietowicz did. They mention the ludicrous Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) chaired successively by Fiona Godlee, Harvey Marcovitch (who signed the BMJ article against Wakefield) and now pharma ghost-writer Liz Wager (a long time associate of Godlee who sits on BMJ ethics committee as well).


If these people were really interested in publication ethics they would be prime candidates for investigation, bearing in mind their straight commercial and professional conflicts and that Marcovitch somehow turned out as the external peer reviewer of Deer's BMJ article alleging fraud against Wakefield.





As to UCL, what can you make of the science which comes out of such an institution, committed to unfairness and prejudice?

PS I should perhaps mention also that after two days BMJ have not posted my mild mannered letter on the matter.



Thank you for mentionning the UCL press release and report ( and the news release and statement from the UKRIO which are far more careful indeed ).

I wish you would comment more precisly UCL's report. Sure , this is a real work that requires time. For the moment, could you just say if the section N°2 ( Brief rehearsal of the incident ) seems fair to you ?

Wouldn't it be usefull to ask Zosia Kmietowicz why she kept silent on Pr Walker Smith ? Waiting for a comment from David Lewis too !

Deborah Nash

I was so impressed by Justice Mitting's understanding of the GMC's complete failure to hold a proper and just enquiry into what went on at the Royal Free Hospital. Of course, if they had have done all three doctors would have been cleared of all charges. For that reason a UCL enquiry would have been no better than the GMC's witch hunt, knowing their need to come to the same wrong conclusion.
One has to think that if the GMC panel chose/cherry picked the 'evidence' to accept without any reasoning with regard to Professor Walker-Smith, then one can assume that it was exactly the same for Dr Wakefield and Simon Murch.
It would be nice to think that the GMC panel sent Professor Walker-Smith a letter of apology for their misdemeanours, for which they had been exceptionally well paid!


Curious to know what "changes" were actually made, and whether those changes would have made any material difference to Wakefield/Murch/Walker-Smith's original study or the paper that resulted from it.

John Stone


There is quite a lot wrong with "a fishing expedition" as the Sunday Times editor recognised.


Nor is it surprising that if you engage in this sort of thing that you end up with all sort of false and malicious constructions. Deer's investigation was a fishing expedition - he has said so - and so was the GMC's. This is not a proper way to conduct public affairs: Witherow knows that - he's just not admitting anything. And GMC prosecution was a crass violation of the rights of the three doctors.


Kim No-Vac

Bye Bye Brian . It wasn't nice knowing you .
And Godless too .

Why did people pull me back from giving that reporter from the BMJ a right tongue lashing ?

Destroy our kids will ya ? And then tell us we are lying ? mmmmm .....contempt


It wasn't a true "fishing expedition". It was a couple of ambitious bloodhounds inciting each other to gain self glorification by producing the bloodied remains of one Andrew Wakefield to the world's press.
And not content with the entrapment and ruination of Wakefield, they wanted to go to even greater heights and expose what Godless Godlee went on to melodramatically refer to as wholesale Institutional Fraud throughout Research departments in all NHS Hospitals.
Well she has been firmly put in her place by a weedy self serving Institution that undoubtedly knows in the light of Judge Mitting's decision re Walker Smith, although they would never dare to admit it, that it would have been on extremely shaky ground had it gone ahead with such a proposed investigation.
It appears to have decided that it needs some "robust" restructuring of Hospital procedures instead, which is probably long overdue and all it really needed.

Godlee and Deer are Press. They need constant drama. If there isn't any, they will invent it.

John Stone


I hadn't noticed that Pepys had been ennobled too. Sir Andrew is also lead non-executive board member of the United Kingdom Department of Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), a combination of what we used to call the Board of Trade and the governance of higher education.


John Stone

It looks as if Zosia Kmietowicz may have been being 'economical with the actualité'. In fact it seems to have had nothing to do with recommendations for research practice as in her title 'University College London issues new research standards but says it won’t investigate Wakefield' but only a gives shoddy recital of public events up until the official findings of the GMC, and a few miserable pieties. It doesn't engage with the further allegations of BMJ but more despicably it does not mention the exoneration of John Walker-Smith in the High Court, which has subsequently doubts over the entire proceedings, let alone David Lewis's report. It should be vastly troubling that a report about research ethics should itself engage in innuendo and half-truth: far better to have said nothing at all. These are the links for the UCL press release and report:



A related news release and statement from the United Kingdom Research Integrity Office are far more careful:



Mark Struthers

It may be of interest to know that 'UCL Business' chose Professor Mark Pepys to be the very first GSK 'academic superstar'.


Of course, it was Professor Pepys who started up 'Pentraxin Therapeutics', a "UCL-spin out", designed to cash in on possible treatments for dementia and other lucrative disorders.

Last year, GSK was fined $3 billion by the US government for drug safety dodges and dodgy drug dealing. However, such criminal wrongdoing did not stop its CEO, Andrew Witty ... and its business superstar and 'chosen one' ... finding themselves on the New Year's list of knighthoods. Arise Sir Andrew ... arise Sir Mark ...

Give me strength!

Mark Struthers

John Stone referred to a 'controversial BBC radio documentary' that heralded a 'new' inquiry into the "Wakefield affair". Star of the show turned out to be Professor Mark Pepys, head of medicine at the Royal Free and University College Medical School in London.


At about 23:45 mins into the show, Pepys said,

"I'm happy to tell you that UCL is undertaking now a formal, very thorough, forensic investigation in relation to these current allegations of scientific fraud, both into this paper and its underlying data, and also other publications by Wakefield”.

Rutherford then went on to remind Pepys that the events had taken place a long time ago and that there might now be difficulty in establishing the truth.

No matter ... and the professor pompously went on to say...

"as I've explained to you before: from the moment I arrived I had my doubts about the quality of this paper; but I think in all of this UCL has performed ... you know ... admirably, in the sense that when this man was in the department which I headed, we dealt with it very robustly, and now with the allegations of fraud, which was not an issue earlier, there is going to be a proper, comprehensive investigation thereof”...

In my view, Dr Godlee, editor in chief at the BMJ, who also starred in this shameless show ... is not the only hot-shot member of the medical establishment to be a profound disappointment.

Angus Files

You don't see Deer publishing his spin ,and lies anywhere these days looks like he is to hot to handle and been dropped like the hot spud ,that he is..

Great John thanks


In 2008 - Zosia Kmietowicz wrote this for the BMJ...

"GlaxoSmithKline is to limit the advisory payments and honorariums it offers to doctors in the United States to $150 000 (£96 000; €120 000) a doctor a year. The company has also said that it will publish the amount of money it offers to doctors “without exception,” although doctors’ names will not be published.

Andrew Witty, chief executive of the company, told the Financial Times, “It’s appropriate that we have a limit on what we pay. In the past, whatever has happened has happened, but in the future there will be strict adherence to these caps, which will be clearer to everybody” (23 Oct, p 22)."

The alternative strategy was financial partnerships with the British Medical Association publishing empire.


Where is Brian ?

Not writing ... not blogging ... last seen at ...


Maybe there's nothing wrong with a fishing expedition--as long as you produce fish at the end. If you come up with an incompetent drawing of a fish, then your expedition has been an epic fail.

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