“Not a convincing job Prof Reiss. What you are ducking is that the central 172-96 allegation (made originally by Mr Deer) was a fabrication without a scrap of documentary evidence -if you really want to brandish it around as still valid please say so. I note, btw, many of the other findings against Wakefield hinge on this central one, not to mention the highly prejudicial nature of the hearing that could make such grotesque errors.”
The above paragraph at the time of writing – more than 24 hours after it was posted is the culmination of an exchange in the Forbes blog in which Andrew Wakefield’s principal accuser Brian Deer made a now rare appearance last week. It seems even prolific vaccine lobby polemicist and blogger Prof Dorit Rubinstein Reiss was lost for words: Deer’s key allegation against Wakefield and his two Royal Free Hospital colleagues Profs John Walker-Smith and Simon Murch – the subject of his first hidden denunciation to the United Kingdom’s General Medical Council, three days after his first article in the Sunday Times in February 2004 - was proving indefensible. Pinned down – even with the perpetual game of innuendo that there was something in it despite Mr Justice Mittings High Court ruling two years ago – she disappeared into the ether.
The answer is that it is time for them to stop pretending: Deer can’t answer it (he disappeared when things got hot last week) and Reiss – the vaccine industry’s main apologist - can’t answer it. The GMC hearing against Wakefield, Walker-Smith and Murch was a fraud and a farrago. If anyone wants to defend those findings now they deserve to be laughing stocks. The investigation and hearing took more than six years and it is a heap of proven bureaucratic lies. That is the inescapable conclusion.
Below is the sequence of letters which began with an intervention from the excellent David Foster:
Brian Deer I have to ask, did it ever occur to you that it might have been a good idea, indeed even ethically responsible, to announce the fact that it was in fact you that submitted the initial complaint about Wakefield to the GMC?
You submitted the complaint, and then proceeded to cover the story representing yourself as an objective, dispassionate journalist. None of those three words describe you sir. You propelled your own career while covering a story you helped to initiate, based on a series of lies and misrepresentations that you continue to pile on even today.
And while I am at it, how do you explain your unprecedented access to highly sensitive medical records? You have made several and various claims about this, and within these comments pages you claim that you worked with BMJ to obtain the records. Now why would it be ethical for either you OR another professional journal to have access to children’s medical records? And how do you explain the complaints from some of the parents of the children who were studied in Wakefield’s 1998 Lancet paper, who said that you misrepresented your identity when interviewing them?
You are very lucky for now, in that the medical establishment on both sides of the Pond have a vested interest in propping up your fantasies as fact, and supporting your conclusions. But history and truth both have a way of flushing out the rats, and you sir will be swimming soon enough.
One has to ask: what point are you trying to make here? If Brian Deer had announced that he had initally brought Wakefield’s unprofessional conduct to the attention of the GMC, would Wakefield be any less guilty of committing those offenses? Would the retracted 1998 Lancet paper somehow become something other than an instance of scientific fraud?
jgc56: Simple answer is yes. The findings of the GMC were flawed and they were based on Deer’s allegations, reporting and conflicts (which were shared by the GMC). There are perfectly good reasons why certain basic journalistic ethics ought to be observed and the question why they were not is totally germane. To begin with was the allegation about the paper being the LAB project which was Deer’s first complaint (undisclosed), it was supported by the GMC prosecutors and panel but without citing any material evidence. The charge was against all three doctors and in 2012 it was dismissed by Mr Justice Mitting in the High Court. It should never have happened and the whole process was tainted and untrustworthy. Worth mentioning that the head of panels at the GMC, Dr Harvey Marcovitch, was also the alleged external peer reviewer of Deer’s 2011 BMJ articles against Wakefield although a BMJ editor as well. All roads lead to Rome, as it were.
Nonsense, John. it’s been explained to you multiple times now–including by a qualified attorney–that the John Walker Smith ruling does nothing to invalidate[sic] the GMC findings against Wakefield. In his opinion re: Walker-Smith’s appeat[sic] Justice Mitting dismissed absolutely no GMC findings against him and in fact concurred with the GMC’s ruling, stating that there is no doubt Andrew Wakefield’s intent was to conduct research.
If you mean Dorit Reiss, she isn’t a qualified attorney (as she was pleased to confirm to me recently I think on this very blog): “I wrote an academic paper on it; as a non-lawyer, I am not going to – or able – to bring a lawsuit…Mr. Stone, I never presented myself as a lawyer. I’m an academic”. The allegation that the Lancet “early report” was actually commissioned by the Legal Aid Board and was project 172-96 is simply a proposition that cannot stand and for which there is no evidence – it was made up by Deer and rejected by a High Court judge. It simply was not true. Let us be clear that Deer made this allegation against all three doctors in his first complaint, not just Wakefield. The fact that John Walker-Smith had to endure eight years of misery because of this is also no feather in Deer’s cap. It was not true for John Walker-Smith – it was just not true at all. Those people who go on maintaining this falsehood by twisting the words of a High Court judge do themselves no good at all. The judge suggested that there might be some different professional motive on the part of Wakefield but that is not enough to refloat the ridiculous 172-96 allegation.
As explained above in detail, and as highlighted multiple times, Judge Mitting’s ruling does nothing to exonerate Andrew Wakefield from the charges against him. Charges that include hiding conflicts of interests, inappropriately ordering invasive tests on children for research purposes, misrepresenting an ethics committee approval. Andrew Wakefield was found guilty of multiple serious ethics violation. Reading Judge Mitting’s decision shows that that verdict is left untouched.
Not a convincing job Prof Reiss. What you are ducking is that the central 172-96 allegation (made originally by Mr Deer) was a fabrication without a scrap of documentary evidence -if you really want to brandish it around as still valid please say so. I note, btw, many of the other findings against Wakefield hinge on this central one, not to mention the highly prejudicial nature of the hearing that could make such grotesque errors.
It remains a fact that the paper was a review of data obtained in the first place for clinical reasons but published for scientific interest. Wakefield was a researcher and Walker-Smith and Murch were clinicians, but also researchers. You have made a meal of Mitting’s line that Wakefield’s interest was research but it is a red-herring and all three together with ten other medical researchers signed the paper. As it is, back to 172-96 – are you really still defending that claim, or not really?
John Stone is UK Editor for Age of Autism.