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Brian Deer Remains Mute

Brian Deer B&WBy John Stone

Just before Christmas Brian Deer made an unusual appearance in the comment columns of Huffington Post.  Why he chose to do so is a bit of a mystery though typically tasteless since the column was about the plight of British doctors driven to suicide while under investigation by the UK General Medical Council. Possibly Deer does not think enough doctors commit suicide but otherwise his intervention was decidedly off subject (besides being a come-down from the London Sunday Times and the British Medical Journal).

Deer writes:

Equally pressing reform, in my view, is needed with regard to section 35(a) of the Medical Act 1983. This allows medical practitioners to stand mute in the face of charges, and not to disclose any information.

This unique provision to protect doctors contrasts with the civil law, under which parties in litigation are required under the CPR to disclose evidence and statements of case in good time before a hearing, and the criminal law, under which police are authorised to seize such evidence as they need and those accused are directly warned that to fail to answer questions may count against them at trial.

This unwarranted protection for doctors - slipped in to the act so long ago - almost entirely derailed the Wakefield, Walker-Smith, Murch GMC case in 2010, potentially costing at least five million of doctors' money and nearly causing a substantial part of the case to be reheard.

In that case, two of the three (Walker-Smith and Wakefield) stood mute in face of charges that the practitioners' claims of ethical approval for research on uniquely vulnerable patients was false. After the prosecution closed its case, the practitioners' then announced that they never carried out any research (as they had said they had before being charged) and Walker-Smith proceeded to retrospectively diagnose what he said were clinical indications for each of the patients. This then added about a year to the length of the hearing, and threw the management of the case into chaos.

This is, of course, complete and utter nonsense, and I responded:

There was no question of Walker-Smith or Wakefield remaining mute. The paper was what it said, a review of cases seen on the basis of patient need: it never claimed to be a research paper. That was the defence. I wrote unchallenged in BMJ Rapid Responses immediately after the findings:

"The panel stated in the short version of their findings on fact read out to journalists at the GMC last month [1]:

"“The Panel has heard that ethical approval had been sought and granted for other trials and it has been specifically suggested that Project 172-96 was never undertaken and that in fact, the Lancet 12children’s investigations were clinically indicated and the research partsof those clinically justified investigations were covered by Project 162-95. In the light of all the available evidence, the Panel rejected this proposition.”

"However, it is my understanding that 162-95 was not a "project" in any normal sense but the ethical approval granted Prof Walker-Smith on his arrival at the Royal Free Hospital in September 1995 - as probably the most senior figure in British paediatric gastroenterology - to retain biopsy samples from colonoscopies for research purposes. If this is the case it would seem a basic criticism of the panel, that in reaching their view, they did not explain why this ethical permission did not obtain in this instance. We are also confronted by the oddity that the panel having concluded that the study was in fact project 172-96 then found the three doctors to be in breach of its terms at every twist and turn, instead of drawing the more obvious inference that it wasn't 172-96 at all, but an "early report" as stated."

http://www.bmj.com/rapid-response/2011/11/02/unexplained-puzzle-gmc-verdict-and-reponses-peter-flegg

Two years later Mr Justice Mitting accepted that Walker-Smith was not conducting research and he was exercising his clinical judgment in the best interests of the patients -clearly also Walker-Smith was ultimately responsible for all clinical decisions as well as being senior author of the paper. A more pertinent question is whether Deer when he was denouncing the doctors witheld evidence of 162-95 which he had obtained under FOI.

Unsurprisingly, challenged in this way Deer remained  “mute”. In 2010 my comment appeared under an article by Prof Trisha Greenhalgh: it was a direct challenge to Greenhalgh whose mischievous analysis  of the Wakefield Lancet paper had appeared on Deer’s website, to Brian Deer himself  and to journalist “opinion leader” Dr Ben Goldacre. Unsurprisingly, all three remained “mute”, although patently embarrassed. Five years on Deer is still …”mute”.

Ignoring the manifold other falsehoods of Deer and the GMC – repeated across the mainstream media for more than a decade -  this is surely structurally the central one.  A day later the LA Times was weedily propounding  over an alleged upturn in vaccine acceptance in California:

This is good news for California, where the anti-vaccine movement has thrived over the last decade despite its basis in a thoroughly discredited study and public statements by a few celebrities who are neither scientists nor medical experts.

It could scarcely demonstrate better how thin the defence of the vaccine program has become. Farcical to maintain that the only doubt about the safety of all vaccines could or should hinge on a single study, but if you consider the manner in which the study was “discredited” it poses far more questions about the industries and the governments hiding behind Deer than about the study itself.

John Stone is UK Editor for Age of Autism.

Comments

ANGUS FILES

Whatever Deer gets paid it wont be in Blairs pay scale you have to start a war in Iraq for that..mind you more people have been killed by vaccines possibly Deer your due a bonus from murder Inc...

M.M.R.R.I.P.

Linda1

Comment by Joe Harris in response to Brian Deer on the Huffington Post article:

"Joe Harris · Top commenter
Brian Deer, my son suffers greatly night and day like a 4th cancer patient.
It's Bought people like you, that are solely responsible. That, and all of those paid off politicians UK and US that have committed Treason. People turning a blind eye,and a deaf ear. While the children suffer, with inflammation in their lower bowel. The MMR and the other junk vaccines, are tearing the children apart. You were working for a Murdoch publication,when you sold your soul to the devil. I hope and pray that when your soul is drug to Hell. And it will be! That your punishment beyond the norm, is listening night and day to the screams of pain and agony of these children with these bowel diseases. But beyond that,I pray that you feel the the feeling of the parents who are completely in total despair. With a feeling of helplessness, It's these feelings, that are causing good parents to commit the unthinkable. They take their own children's lives, to stop! the suffering that the Prideful Arrogant ever Greedy vaccine program has caused. So like Hitler and all the others, that think I got away with it. He is still burning in Hell just as you will someday. I hope and pray that before that day, that the good Dr. Wakefield. That he is allowed to sue you penniless, you and all that helped to destroy his career and our children's lives."


cmo

Dr. Andrew Wakefield has written....over 140.....scientific papers.

Brian Deer has won ....just one ??? ... journalism award.


Brian Deer has spent nearly 7 years trying to discredit a 5 page 1998 paper on 12 children.
Hundreds of children with similar MMR gut virus/ Autism symptoms followed.

*******

the award winning Brian Deer... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AX2Rq1jM0mU

Dr. Nancy thinks Brian Deer is a vaccine safety / medical genus.... The Today show, January 2011


Dr. Nancy Snyderman, Matt Lauer & Brian Deer on the MMR vaccine

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O4mDLIug6f0


John Stone

A pdf of all the BMJ Rapid Responses to the Greenhalgh's article 'Why did the Lancet take so long?' up until the removal of comments can be found here:

http://www.vaccinationnews.org/sites/default/files/bmjcopywith-date-stamp.pdf

John Stone

Peter

Interesting. He seems to be saying that the BMJ are wary of getting into another adventure with him, and Godlee was pretty naieve in the first place. I guess it is very much a case of people believing what they want to hear but there is no doubt she has been tied in knots even if she has not paid the ultimate professional penalty (and she certainly should).

Jeannette

Deer was always a project to get the British/international medical establishment off the hook. He was sent in to see to Wakefield and they were always going to back whatever nonsense he came up with, but he is an embarrassment as well. He thinks his activities are a model for something but it is incoherent drivel and they know it. They can't afford to be that indiscreet again, and certainly not with him.

Jeannette Bishop

Thank you for clearly condensing the incompetence (for lack of an appropriate word) of Deer's reporting and the GMC findings regarding the Lancet paper.

I'm not certain (from too far away to be confident of my impressions of events) that a GMC investigation was the only source of "stress" for some of these doctors but possibly just one persecution tool of a more extensive dubious operation? Is the GMC trying to create the impression that all that has been going on is due to poorly constructed administrative procedures?

Probably not very pertinent, but I believe around the time of the BMJ's "peer reviewed" publication by Deer that he said something to the effect that more professionals than Wakefield and his colleagues were responsible for the MMR controversy or that generally there was more corruption in the medical field that needed to be addressed (I can't or don't want to remember enough specifics of that statement to search it out). My impression anyway was that he intended to continue a medical practice "reform" crusade, possibly with the backing of whomever backed him during the GMC "investigation," so I guess he is still looking for opportunities.

Peter Miles

Here's another recent post from Brian Deer.
http://retractionwatch.com/2014/12/22/peer-review-isnt-good-dealing-exceptional-unconventional-submissions-says-study/
I replied to his comment concerned about who he considered "right thinking people" but the post was not accepted by the moderators.

Jenny Allan

Thanks John. So far Brian Deer has been 'teflon coated', neither officially criticised nor sanctioned for any of his slanderous lies, and illegal publicising of confidential information. How long can this be permitted to continue?

John Stone

Jenny

Deer had published the names of children in the MMR litigation on his website 2004-6 before he was granted limited access to documents by Mr Justice Eady in Andrew Wakefield's libel action against him in Nov 2006 - the MMR litigant friends he interviewed under a false name prior to his original allegations against Wakefield and colleagues were Rosemary Kessick and Jackie Fletcher, but that is a separate issue.

I was one of the correspondents in BMJ, like Prof Dodge, who drew attention to the problem of Deer having access to documents, indeed I made available to them the webpages in which Deer published the names in 2004-6 but like Prof Dodge's letter my letter was removed "following a legal complaint". As far as I can see the legal reasons were that the letters themselves were an embarrasment to BMJ who were possibly already planning further allegations with Deer. Certainly, only two or three of the several removed letters could have remotely been construed as potentially defamatory. They even excised a line from the letter of Dr F Edward Yazbak:

“I must say I am troubled that Mr Deer was able to obtain the names and family backgrounds of the original 12 study patients”

This was merely in response to the line in Deer's letter:

“I know the names and family backgrounds of all 12 of the children enrolled in the study, including the child enrolled from the United States. I don't believe that Dr Yazbak has a family relationship with any of them.”

There is no obvious way in which Yazbak's comment could plausibly have been the basis of legal complaint, yet it was removed.

http://www.ageofautism.com/2011/01/the-british-medical-journal-shows-misjudgement-bias-in-further-attack-on-andrew-wakefield.html

John A. Dodge

For the record,
I (among others) asked the same question in the BMJ online correspondence columns, after watching Professor Murch raise the subject at the GMC hearing. My letter was withdrawn from the BMJ website after 2 days *for legal reasons". The BMJ refused to clarify who had complained:
there are several possibilities.
Perhaps Mr Deer could now enlighten us?
Professor John Dodge, CBE MD FRCP

Jenny Allan

@ Danchi asks :-
"I am curious as to how Deer obtained access to the children's private medical records?"
According to Deer, he obtained the records during a UK litigation case instigated by Andrew Wakefield, but Isabella Thomas, parent of 2 Lancet children, insists Deer was given copies before this, via someone at the Royal Free Hospital. What is not in dispute is Deer used this confidential information to visit some of the parents, using a false name and personna to obtain further information.

It is alleged Deer also published all the Lancet children's names and addresses on his website, although this was later taken down. Needless to say these actions were an illegal use of confidential information by Deer, but he has never been officially censured for it.

Danchi

I am curious as to how Deer obtained access to the children's private medical records? I'm sure no MSM reporter has looked into this and the legalities of it because I've not seen it reported on. Anyone have information on this?

Jenny Allan

I also commented on the above HuffPo article. This is one of them:-

"Further to Deer's comment about Section 35 of the Medical Act allowing "medical practitioners to stand mute in the face of GMC charges, and not to disclose any information", it should be pointed out, following the High Court exoneration of Professor Walker-Smith, Feb 2012, Judge Mitting made clear his disaproval of the GMC's 'court system', which made a complete mockery of what real courts of justice call 'due process'. Since these proceedings were claimed by the GMC to be 'criminal standard', the 'defendants' had the right to stay silent, although all three doctors in the Wakefield, Murch and Walker-Smith 'GMC trial' had individual Queen's Counsel advocates to present their defence evidence.

Thankfully, Judge Mitting's scathing comments about the GMC, made during Prof Walker-Smith's appeal, resulted in the GMC being forced to reform their procedures. There are no more 'courts'; proceedings now follow a cheaper, less formal, 'industrial tribunal' type model. Worryingly, this does not appear to have changed the GMC's 'guilty until proven innocent' attitude towards doctors, nor the apparent 'zeal' to convict on allegations and evidence which would not stand up to scrutiny in a real court.

I totally agree with Anitra Mitra when she says, " it is time for an independent external review of the regulatory and complaints system in the UK." Even ONE doctor's suicide is ONE TOO MANY."

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