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David Aaronovitch Loses Exchange About Wakefield & MMR: Then it is Deleted

AaronovitchNewly appointed Index-on-Censorship chairman David Aaronovitch loses on-line exchange about Wakefield and MMR in the London Times: then  it is deleted.

By John Stone

With British journalists running relays to resuscitate the dead story of the Swansea measles epidemic  the former Communist Party activist, David Aaronovitch – newly appointed chairman of the “human-rights” organisation Index-on-Censorship  -  has come off worse in an exchange with me about Andrew Wakefield and MMR in The Times of London, which was after some hours deleted.

I had written under his article:

It is very unclear that Wakefield cheated bearing in mind the complete exoneration in the High Court last [year] of the senior author and clinician in the Lancet paper Prof John Walker-Smith, who unlike Wakefield was funded to appeal. Walker-Smith was equally responsible for [the] paper and it’s reporting, and more responsible for any clinical decisions regarding the patients in it. The GMC findings, which were based on Brian Deer's allegations, cannot be considered reliable: indeed were highly flawed.

However, an over-riding problem with MMR is that irrespective of Wakefield it is used despite any scientific certainty as to safety. The conclusion in abstract of the Cochrane review of MMR in both 2005 and 2012 is:

"The design and reporting of safety outcomes in MMR vaccine studies, both pre- and post-marketing, are largely inadequate. The evidence of adverse events following immunisation with MMR cannot be separated from its role in preventing the target diseases."


Perhaps by some Orwellian sleight of hand "largely inadequate" for the professional has become "adequate" for the layman, but in my opinion being lulled to sleep by official truths is not being a good journalist.

To which Aaronovitch responded:

@John Stone You have a dog in this fight, John. Brian Deer's "allegations" as you call them concerned Wakefield's methods, his undeclared financial interest in single vaccinations and role as paid expert to anti-vaccination litigation, his doctoring of case histories and the ethics of his research on his subjects. And obscure the facts as much as you will, you cannot come up with credible evidence of an autism link to MMR, either correlative or causal. It would have been much better for those dealing with autism had this whole MMR farrago not distracted from the business of research into causes and help to parents.

For those who want it here is the link to Brian Deer's website…

Aaronovitch, it should be noted was the London Times commentator who followed up Brian Deer’s 2009 allegations against Wakefield with two attacks on Andrew Wakefield in the space of a week, just after Times newpaper boss James Murdoch was appointed to the board of MMR manufacturer GlaxoSmithKline with a brief to help protect the group’s reputation.

Anyhow, I answered:


It is an issue which of Brian Deer's allegations regarding the Wakefield Lancet paper can any longer be held to be true after Mr Justice Mitting's ruling in the High Court.

Was there mis-reporting about referral? No.

Were there unauthorised or inappropriate investigations? No.

Was there mis-reporting of clinical data? No.

Was the paper funded by the Legal Aid Board? No.

Was the paper based on a research protocol, rather than early report of cases seen on the basis of clinical need as stated? No.

If any of these things had been true Walker-Smith would have lost his appeal.

As to Wakefield, he plainly stated in a letter to the Lancet (published 2 May 1998) that he was acting as an expert in the litigation, but the Lancet had known about this for a year at the time, and it was not in those days the convention to disclose court work as a competing interest. Also, Wakefield 's job (he was contracted to the Royal Free Hospital) was to research treatments (which was what the "vaccine" was) but in February 1998 he advised the use of single vaccines on the NHS (which was then an option removed by the government in the succeeding months) in which he had no financial interest. This happened because the dean of the Royal Free medical school had asked Wakefield to do a press briefing supporting the vaccine programme, which is what he did (the policy was changed later).

You accuse me of "obscuring" things, which deftly moves the attack from the things that I am saying to me.

Very plainly there have been court cases in the US and Italy in which governments have conceded that vaccine damage (including MMR) resulted in autism. Vaccines cause encephalopathies - this is not seriously disputed, but we don't know how often because the fundamental official response to reporting is the bare-faced antagonism which your article buys in to.

To which I added a postscript pointing out that the two histopathologist co-authors of the Wakefield paper had repudiated Deer’s claim that Wakefield had tampered with biopsy results.

All this stood without answer for several hours before being quietly removed. 

Another extended comment of mine which was removed read:

@Paul Hayward
Yes, I am aware of most of these studies. The problem with the Japanese story is that actually their autism statistics declined as citizens boycotted MMR but shot up when separate vaccines were introduced but administered close together. When the co-author of the Honda paper was quizzed about this in Private Eye he blustered somewhat:

 "One of the co-authors of the Honda paper was Professor Sir Michael Rutter, of the Institute of Psychiatry, who had prepared a draft report for GlaxoSmithKline, one of the defendant drug companies in the UK litigation but who was not retained by them. He told the Eye that as he was not an immunlogist he could not comment on the suggestion that giving three separate vaccines a short time apart was the same as administerng the MMR triple vaccine. But he added that although it was unfortunate there was little relevant material published on any possible interference between vaccine components, immunologists whom he had consulted doubted that this was a significant issue"
Cochrane also pointed out there was no proper control group in the Smeeth study. Also, they were discovering insufficient autism cases from their database (from memory ~0.1% as against a figure of >1% in the school population).

 Any paper by DeStefano is hopelessly conflicted because as a Centers for Disease Control official he has responsibility for the policy in the first place. Of a contemporaneous DeStefano paper Cochrane said:

 “The conclusion, however, implied bias in the enrollment of cases which may not be representative of the rest of the autistic population of the city of Atlanta, USA where the study was set.” (Re: DeStefano 2004)

Perhaps an even more fundamental problem is the [that] epidemiological studies - even better conducted than these might be powerless to detect significant sub-groups as former NIH boss Bernardine Healy pointed out in 2008.

Of course, the 2001 winner of the Orwell prize could have contested the detail of what I had said, or agreed that the issues were more complex than he had previously acknowledged but The Times took the totalitarian line and just pulled everything.

John Stone is UK Editor for Age of Autism.


Shiny Happy Person

Jenny Allen - yes, the hitchensblog post is brilliant.

Mark Struthers - the "matchbox" quote has my morning coffee on the screen - thanks for the needed Friday chuckle.

John Stone - I'm still searching for the appropriate word(s) - for now, I hope "thank you" does it.

Media Scholar

"A nation can survive its fools, and even the ambitious. but cannot survive treason from within. An enemy at the gates is less formidable, for he is known and carries his banner openly. But the traitor moves amongst those within the gates freely, his sly whispers rustling through all the alleys, heard in the very halls of government itself. For the traitor appears not a traitor; he speaks in accents familiar to his victims, and he wears their face and their arguments, he appeals to the baseness that lies deep in the hearts of all men. He rots the soul of a nation, he works secretly and unknown in the night to undermine the pillars of the city, he infects the body politic so that it can no longer resist. A murder is less to fear." - Marcus Tullius Cicero, Roman Statesman, philosopher and orator

Angus Files

I doubt we seen the whole of the moon ..thats enough..thanks!

Mark Struthers

Well done, John for exposing the rank hypocrisy of Aaronovitch and his Murdoch mobsters. Caught with his hypocritical knickers around his knees, Mr. Aaronovitch is certainly not an impressive sight.

John Stone


It was a very small alteration (in fact none to main text) but the guy looks utterly ridiculous, the more so for complaining.


It is very important to state that an unconfirmed case of measles is not a case of measles. Health official for Swansea were telling the media at the end of March that they had 4-500 cases but secretly they were only able to confirm a single one. I quote from letter by Dr JK Anand in BMJ Rapid Responses yesterday:

"1. 1996 edition of Immunisation against Infectious Disease, HMSO states, on page 125, para 22.1.2 that 'recent experience shows that FEW cases notified according to clinical diagnosis are measles'. My emphasis.

"2. Para 22.1.3 of the same publication says that whenever possible saliva samples should be taken from all notified cases."


This is explained in a report in the Daily Telegraph (8 January 1997):

"London (Europe Today). – "97.5% of the times that British doctors diagnose measles they are wrong", says a publication of the Public Health Laboratory service. The mistake being made by National Health GP's was found when the services tested the saliva of more than 12,000 children who had been diagnosed as having measles. Roger Buttery, an adviser on transmissible diseases at the Cambridge and Huntingdon Health Department, said that the majority of doctors "say they can recognize measles a mile off, but we now know that this illness occurs only in 2.5% of the cases." Buttery says that doctors classify as measles, many other viruses that also cause spots. He found eight different viruses during the survey in East Anglia. One of them, parvovirus, gives symptoms similar to German measles. The reason for the high rate of error puzzled Buttery. "Doctors are neither vague nor careless," he said. The solution is to defer the diagnosis until more detailed information can be got. There are 5,000 to 6,000 cases of measles registered each year in the United Kingdom, but these findings now call most of them into doubt."

So it looks as if people are being told they have measles when in fact they have some lesser infection (and presumably the authorities know this).

You can read more here:


A friend wrote to me yesterday:

'There is something really wrong going on or should I say evil?'

To which I replied:

'It is some of the most grotesque and blatant media manipulation I have ever seen.'

Mark Struthers

Jenny Allan said,

"Peter Hitchens, from The Mail on Sunday, has quite a lot to say about Mr Aaronovitch, The Times, and the MMR vaccine promoting 'mafiosi':-


Read the rest. It's brilliant"

And it was Peter Hitchens’ brilliant brother Christopher, who said:

“If you gave [David] Aaronovitch an enema he could be buried in a matchbox.”

Anna Watson

I wonder how the press will present the latest data from Wales... That in nearly 450 reported cases of measles only 26 were confirmed in the first quarter of the year. in fact in March there was just one case of measles confirmed in 302 reports by doctors. Will the catch up program still go ahead, putting at least one child at official risk of encephalitis (1 in a million) or will there be a public enquiry?

Holding my breath

Can't wait for the outcome of Aaronovitch's spitfire internal battle to ensure dissenting voices and inconvenient facts are returned to print. After all, he's such a free thinker and exemplary champion of open media. I'm quite sure he'll quit in protest if the censorship is not corrected ............................................
...................................................................................................Still waiting...

Jake Crosby

"I am not responsible for comment moderation on The Times."

Not even that of his own column?

John, I think it's safe to revert back to the old text.


I've just seen this post. I most certainly did NOT delete your comment as you allege. I am not responsible for comment moderation on The Times. I think you should retract your allegation.


You lost the exchange , and the comments were deleted. That's not an allegation, it's a statement of fact. Matters not who did your deleting for you.

I think you should grow some balls, and stop trying to blame your cowardice on un-named subordinates

Angus Files

Whilst all employees languish in Jail …I am doing fine JACK !

Rupert Murdoch: will receive up to $28.3m in the year ending June 2014. Photograph: Ian West/PA

Rupert Murdoch will receive almost $30m (£19.4m) for running the two companies that will emerge later this year from the separation of News Corporation's publishing and entertainment businesses.

For the year ending June 2014 he will receive up to $28.3m in remuneration from the two businesses, with a base salary of $8.1m, a target bonus of $12.5m and long-term incentives of $7.7m. This is 15% more than the $24.6m total remuneration he is eligible to collect at the end of June this year as News Corp's chairman and chief executive.

News Corp, which will be split in two in the summer, revealed in a filing with US financial regulators on Friday that the billionaire's pay is "competitive and appropriate given Mr Murdoch's responsibilities associated with two separate public companies".

Most of Murdoch's pay will come from running 21st Century Fox, by some distance the bigger and more profitable of the two News Corp businesses that are to be floated separately in New York later this year.

But the pay rise did not go down well with News Corp's dissident shareholders, who have lobbied for Murdoch to be replaced as chairman and for greater independent oversight at the company.

"Mr Murdoch the chairman gave Mr Murdoch the CEO a substantial bump to what was already an excessive pay package while the board looked the other way. The fact that the board approved it demonstrates a lack of effective oversight and disregard for the best interest of all News Corp shareholders," said Julie Tanner, assistant director of socially responsible investing at Christian Brothers Investment Services.

Murdoch is to be chairman and chief executive of 21st Century Fox, which encompasses the Fox film and TV studios, the eponymous US TV network, cable channels including FX and Fox News, and News Corp's 39.1.% stake in BSkyB.

Just $5m of his $30m total remuneration package comes from his role as executive chairman of the newspaper and book publishing business, which is retaining the News Corp name and includes assets such as the Times, Sunday Times, Sun, Wall Street Journal, the Australian and HarperCollins.

Murdoch will receive a base salary of $1m, a $2m target bonus and a $2m target long-term incentive opportunity for his News Corp work.

The company said that Murdoch's pay regime has been overhauled to introduce a much larger element of bonuses dependent on performance-based targets, with his overall base salary staying at the current level of $8.1m.

"A significant portion of [Murdoch's] target total direct compensation [will be] at-risk and linked to performance ... which will further align Mr Murdoch's compensation with the interests of stockholders," News Corp said.

Murdoch's total compensation is likely to be higher than the target amounts outlined on Friday when factors such as pension contributions and other benefits are included. In the year to the end of June 2012 he was paid almost $30m.

• To contact the MediaGuardian news desk email [email protected] or phone 020 3353 3857 . For all other inquiries please call the main Guardian switchboard on 020 3353 2000 . If you are writing a comment for publication, please mark clearly "for publication".


Angus Files

Aaronovitch might see himself as in a position of power and no need to keep good account of his blogs... but like fellow mates at The Times ...soon to be in-mates, more than ever..


White Rose

The whole vaccine holocaust in the UK to me from start to finish , is a "State sposnsored poisoning of our children , and then the state censorship via corrupt media (the BBC & London Times) to deny these crimes have taken place" .
The Nazi's have nothing on the orchestrators of this crime .
Perhaps I'm wrong there , actually , it looks like the perpetraitors (sp.) of the vaccine epidemica are Nazi's.

Hg-enocide is what we are looking at here , lets not pretend this is some tragic accident anymore , because it cannot be when the numbers of just the autistics alone are clearly in the millions alone (and not a word about it anywhere.)

So if you are protesting like me , stop with the whingeing and speak up from a position of strength . Make the accusations with an absolute 100% certainty .Dont talk about compensation , talk about criminal prosecutions for crimes against humanity . We need to concentrate on isolating the fall guys (Salisbury - our day is coming - for you are the fall guy !) .


At the base of Aaronovitch's, Deer's and other dismissals of Wakefield are disputes about science. It troubles me that Wakefield is maligned by claims that have no scientific basis, eg that many people have tried unsuccessfully to replicate Wakefield's findings. Untrue, there have been only 2 partial replication studies unable to find the same findings, ie Hornig (2008) and D’Souza (2009). A conference presentation by Walker (2006) did replicate Wakefield's findings. Other studies that don't count as replication studies, but are treated as if they are, are studies of the blood of autistic children and epidemiological studies.

Likewise we should be troubled by statements that there is overwhelming evidence for the safety of MMR. Untrue, the Cochrane Collaboration (2005, 2012) concluded that design and reporting of safety outcomes in MMR vaccine studies were “largely inadequate”. As a consequence they concluded that “The evidence of adverse events following immunisation with MMR cannot be separated from its role in preventing the target diseases”, in other words these conclusions were reached by bracketing out questions concerning MMR safety.

We have a right to insist that journalists addressing the Wakefield issue are more adequately informed.


My concern is that the critics of Wakefield do not seem to realize we are not just talking about the 1998 Lancet Research paper of 12 children. There are many children some now are adults who have the severe bowel symptoms as well as regressive autism. These children are in many cases very ill and it affects their lives and their families lives. We are not just talking about those 12 - there are many more children damaged - time has moved on and no research means no treatments which means sick people getting sicker in desperate pain, unable to eat properly day after day. How on earth do you get through such ignorance, it gives me a feeling of deep concern that supposedly intelligent people just don't seem to have the ability to look beyond their ignorant rant. There are the judgements in Italy and USA settled by the Governments taking responsibility for MMR vaccine damage. In addition the UK damages for MMR damage, We will continue to battle on as this is about our vaccine damaged children whose lives were blighted following the MMR Vaccine. We will not stop until we have this matter resolved. Our children deserve better than denial and insults.

John Stone

Well, it does not seem to be hugely dignified or courageous if the new chairman of Index-on-Censorship allows his own blog to be censored by others in such an arbitrary way, and then complains that he is not responsible.

In the meantime, I note (1) that he has not used his good offices to ensure the exchange is put back up, (2) he has not responded to my comments here.

So, a very unconvincing performance I would say.

PS And what a snivelling example to the rest of the world!


Regarding Wakefield's supposed distortion of the children's medical histories, I can see why Aaronovitch is confused. In Child 3's case, for instance, Deer presents the parents as unsure, a little greedy, ripe to be manipulated by Wakefield into claiming their child's regression followed MMR. The problem here is that Deer more or less agrees that Child 3's regression was precipitated by MMR as evidenced by the chart accompanying his article.

Deer omits to tell us that Child 3 developed a fever and a rash and started banging his head two days after receiving MMR from a batch later discontinued due to adverse reactions. Isn't this important information? And shouldn't we then be on alert for other omissions and distortions in Deer's reporting? We should.

Jenny Allan

"I am not responsible for comment moderation on The Times."
So says David Aaronovitch, even although John Stone's deleted comments were on the comment thread of his own article.
That's the problem these days. No one wants to be 'responsible' for ANYTHING. Do you feel the teeniest bit responsible for the autism epidemic Mr Aaronovitch?


I too am surprised?
What is the deal with that?
How did that happen?
And in the end there was censorship?
A mistake?
I don't understand?


"I most certainly did NOT delete your comment as you allege. I am not responsible for comment moderation on The Times."

Are you saying you have absolutely no influence over comment moderation on an article that has you named as its author?

If you are not allowed to reply to Mr. Stone's comments at The Times would you do so here?

(*whispering* Reply with "I don't have time, I have to wash my hair" if you are being held against your will at the Times and your name signed to articles you didn't write) :D

John Stone


Okay, I have altered the text and I apologise unreservedly for any false inference but it remains a problem does it not that I offered well-mannered and informed comment and it was deleted (including your response to me). It should be obvious to you that none of this should have been taken down and that actually if it does not raise important issues about you have said, we ought to have a proper discussion as to why not, rather than just consign the whole thing to the memory hole.

In my first comment I had already pointed out the problem of the Mitting judgement (which is apparently deadly to Deer's claims), and in my second comment I was a lot more specific. There could be no reasonable doubt that if we are going to have a public discussion about this matter we should be able to discuss a High Court judgement and other things relating to it. You ducked this with your original response and subsequently the exchange was removed (I am surprised that no one would consult you about the removal of your own comments).

Of course, if you were happy for the comments to be removed and don't take steps to have them replaced then there is not very much difference. I would be very much more impressed if you responded to the detail of what I had said (perhaps you were completely unaware of it).

Steve Michaels

All should read this.


Whilst not completely relevant, it shows how shills take over forums and try to become moderators to censor opposing views.


I think this article is a little unfair to Michael Rutter. He probably hadn't yet read the Honda paper so how could he be expected to comment on it?


Thanks, John! Aaranovitch is a coward.

Isabella Thomas

Great article John, what would we do without you. The Sunday Times will never acknowledge the truth as they would have a lot of questions to answer. They have ignored my complaints and others about Brian Deer. Here is the e-mail address of David Aaronovitch if anyone wishes to contact him

[email protected].

I would be very interested in his response to you all. Go for it!

David Aaronovitch

I've just seen this post. I most certainly did NOT delete your comment as you allege. I am not responsible for comment moderation on The Times. I think you should retract your allegation.

Jim Thompson


So the "Orwell Prize winner of 2001" chose to censor your on-line discussion with him? Was this a tactic to preserve his previous incorrect statements in the minds of those reading the London Times?

"How could you have a slogan like 'freedom is slavery' when the concept of freedom has been abolished? The whole climate of thought will be different. In fact there will be no thought, as we understand it now. Orthodoxy means not thinking -- not needing to think. Orthodoxy is unconsciousness.” Orwell, 1984.


Superb. First time on your site. Behaviour like this (deleting arguments these scumbags lose) deserves maximum publicity. What a weasle.


Excellent piece.

And here explained simply is why all the tobacco science statistical "studies" cited to date as evidence of no link could never find an association between just MMR vaccine and autistic conditions.

The reason is that vaccines IN GENERAL and not just the MMR can cause autistic conditions [as US government officials confirmed on US national broadcast TV and news a number of times following the Hannah Poling case which went coast-to-coast in the US and was in the top ten stories in 2008].

As MMR vaccine is not the only cause, studies looking at all autistic cases to pin it on the MMR will reveal nothing.

This is because the MMR vaccine caused cases are "buried" in the "noise" from all the cases caused by the other vaccines.

The necessary studies are those on ALL vaccines compared to completely unvaccinated cases - like the 32,000 in Chicago of Mayor Eisenstein's patients.

These are the studies the CDC will not have carried out and if they did they would get a Poul "most wanted fugitive" Thorsen look-alike to carry them out.

Get Aaronovitch to explain why he engages in journalism which will result in hundreds of thousands of children needlessly developing autistic conditions from vaccines.

[And of course vaccines cause a lot more besides].

Jeannette Bishop

Thank you for impeccably presenting the truth once again.

Jenny Allan

Peter Hitchens, from The Mail on Sunday, has quite a lot to say about Mr Aaronovitch, The Times, and the MMR vaccine promoting 'mafiosi':-

The MMR - a Reply to Some Critics
Extract-Read the rest. It's brilliant:-

"I reproduce below a long (and rather snappish) attack on me, published by Michael Ward, a person I’ve never met (but who seems to dislike my views on illegal drugs) and much-posted on Twitter. I am responding to it because the ‘Times’ columnist and BBC favourite David Aaronovitch, who has pronounced that I am ‘wrong’ on the MMR subject, but cannot say why despite many challenges to do so from me, seems to be relying on this document as his justification.
Therefore the author of it has had the misfortune to have become a proxy for Ex-Comrade Aaronovitch. David is a former enthusiast of the late unlamented Communist Party of Great Britain, and has not, as far as I know, devoted much time to repudiating his past affiliation to the Party of Brezhnev and Andropov. He was also (to me unsurprisingly, as both projects were utopian, globalist, self-righteous, deluded, dishonest and violent) a keen supporter of Mr Blair’s idiotic and disastrous war on Iraq. A number of other people have also claimed that Mr Ward’s essay ‘demolishes’, ‘dismantles’ or ‘takes down’ my position. People often say this sort of thing, when what they mean is that they agree with my critic. This is one of those occasions, but because the MMR issue is still so important, I feel it necessary to respond where I otherwise wouldn’t bother."

Mr Hitchen is one of the few - the VERY few journalists to question all the media and other vilification and blame heaped upon Dr Wakefield and any media outlets which DARE to publish both sides of the MMR vaccine controversy. The Daily Mail has been publicly castigated for this, by those journalists like David Aaronovitch, who work (like Brian Deer) for Murdoch's Times and that other left wing newspaper The Guardian, which relentlessly promotes Big Pharma and other political and corporate propaganda.

Like John-I've had comments pulled from UK news threads, but no matter. The fact that our well reasoned and factual statements are being pulled, shows we are slowly winning the arguments. The UK government can do nothing about internet websites registered in the US. So keep commenting John and post your pulled comments HERE!!

John Stone

Hi Benedetta,

I suspect it was because certain powerful people were determined to bring him down whatever, but it wasn't anything about the birthday party that led to my comments being removed yesterday.



It is not that Dr. Wakefield found a something new and different in the stomachs of kids that had autism
It is the fact that he used kids at his son's birthday party.

And Dr. Wakefield has to defend himself for that.
Ohhh sigh and slap hand to forehead.

That is their arguements.


Thanks John,

They really have no argument once you present them with the facts.

Then they have the audacity to call you "Anti-this" or "Anti-that."

Elizabeth Gillespie


Thank you, John Stone, for your ongoing stellar commentary.

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