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Best of AoA: The Sarah Boseley Problem Again

image from www.rescuepost.com
[The line up in the photograph, left to right, is Jeremy Laurance (Independent), Jenny Hope (Daily Mail), Sarah Boseley, Gill Markham (Wyeth) Phil Hammond (MD of Private Eye and favorite pharma after dinner speaker)] EVERY GOOD BOY DESERVES FAVOUR

By John Stone

The British mainstream media are once again hopping up and down about Andrew Wakefield (all of us here wish him well) with a particularly egregious and unnecessary attack in the hollowed out Guardian newspaper by their long time health correspondent, Sarah Boseley. Age of Autism is today reviving UK editor John Stone's article from the time of the Walker-Smith appeal in February 2012 at which, of course, the senior clinician and author in the Wakefield 1998 paper was completely exonerated. The core charges against all three doctors at the GMC had been busted and no one reported. But two years before Boseley had hinted that all was not well with the GMC findings, while her Guardian colleague Dr Ben Goldacre had wobbled for months with uncertainty and embarrassment, and retired conveniently from his column before the hearing. Now, mysteriously, following  the publication of pictures of  Wakefield in company of Elle Macpherson in the Daily Mail a new frenzy has engulfed the British media, and fascinatingly the message is that somehow the establishment is under attack! To which we can only say what gives them the right to go on covering up year after year. Used health journalists for sale. Who wants them anymore?

The Walker-Smith Appeal, The British Media and the Boseley Problem

Sarah Boseley (centre in the photo) is the senior Guardian newspaper journalist who wrote on the occasion of the UK General Medical Council’s findings against Dr Andrew Wakefield and his colleagues Prof  John Walker-Smith and Prof Simon Murch in January 2010:

"Opinion is divided in the medical establishment on the wisdom of pursuing Wakefield – and particularly his colleagues who played a lesser role in the drama – at the GMC. Some say there was a clear case to answer and that the GMC had no other option but others believe that no good can come of it."

What Boseley omitted to do as a decent journalist and a competent reporter was to tell her readership what the medical establishment was worried about. And what they were worried about may be by now coming back round to haunt both the medical establishment itself and the media, although no doubt damage limitation measures are already being put in a state of readiness.  The spectre came in the form of a UK Press Association report of Prof Walker-Smith’s High Court appeal misleadingly entitled ‘MMR row doctor decision was “fair”’  . However, underneath the headline the story begins to hint at the real matter:

“The decision to strike off an eminent doctor over the MMR jab controversy has been defended at the High Court as "just and fair - not wrong".

“The General Medical Council (GMC) admitted to a judge that "inadequate reasons" may have been given by a disciplinary panel that found Professor John Walker-Smith guilty of serious professional misconduct. Those reasons related to conflicts over expert evidence.

“But Joanna Glynn QC, appearing for the GMC, said: "In spite of inadequate reasons it is quite clear on overwhelming evidence that the charges are made out."

“Professor Walker-Smith is asking Mr Justice Mitting at London's High Court to rule that he was denied a fair hearing. On the fourth day of his challenge, the judge said that the case had been "complex and difficult from the start - it greatly troubles me".”

At stake in the hearing are essentially two issues: whether Prof Walker-Smith acted beyond his brief as a clinician in the care of the 12 children in the much disputed Lancet paper, and whether the paper had anything to do – as alleged – with the protocol (identified with Royal Free Hospital ethical approval 172-96) for a Legal Aid Board funded paper, or was just as the paper itself stated an “early report” on 12 children seen and investigated on the basis of clinical need. This problem has been perpetually hinted at but never clearly explained in the British media – we will call it for convenience “the Boseley problem” though it is very much the problem of other journalists too.

Following the allegations by journalist Brian Deer and doctor MP Evan Harris in 2004 that the Wakefield Lancet paper had been commissioned and paid for by the UK Legal Aid Board the first apparent dissent to appear was in an award winning article by Dr Ben Goldacre ‘Don't Dumb Me Down' , the son of a leading government epidemiologist and Oxford University professor, Michael J. Goldacre.  Goldacre junior wrote in September 2005:

“Now, even though popular belief in the MMR scare is - perhaps - starting to fade, popular understanding of it remains minimal: people periodically come up to me and say, isn't it funny how that Wakefield MMR paper turned out to be Bad Science after all? And I say: no. The paper always was and still remains a perfectly good small case series report, but it was systematically misrepresented as being more than that, by media that are incapable of interpreting and reporting scientific data.”

This statement refers to neither Deer or Harris, and what it does not tell you is that the issue as to whether the Lancet paper was a really a “fraud” or not hinged on if  it was “a perfectly good small case series report” as stated on this occasion by Ben Goldacre or if it was based on the protocol for the Legal Aid Board commission to which it bears little or no resemblance (and which the three doctors at the GMC were later to claim was never executed) as originally argued by Deer and Harris in 2004. At the same time the possibility that medical establishment was trying to hedge its bets against the failure of a flawed GMC prosecution is opened up by the fact that Dr Harris, himself, was on the jury which gave Goldacre his Association of British Science Writer’s award for the article  (note that page mistakenly attributes the article to John Gribben) .

Indeed, there was sequence of editorials around the time of that award (which took place in the summer of 2006) doubting the wisdom of prosecuting Andrew Wakefield and his forgotten colleagues, which included pieces in The Independent, the New Scientist,  by Dr Michael Fitzpatrick in Spiked Online and a little later by Dr Fiona Godlee in British Medical Journal calling for the prosecution to be called off .

All this led later to particular embarrassment for Ben Goldacre, whose vacillating position on the matter was reported on Age of Autism (Can We Have it Straight?),  (Goldacre Challenged on Wakefield)  and who as late as November 2010 (and months after he had first welcomed the GMC verdict) was accurately telling Irish Health:

“But you have to remember this paper didn’t actually say MMR causes autism, it didn’t even speculate on that. It was accompanied by an editorial that said by the way people should be very clear that it doesn’t mean that MMR causes autism.

“Also, this was a 12 subject case series report - it was a description of only 12 children’s clinical anecdotes, and while this is not good evidence to say MMR causes autism, it is a perfectly legitimate thing to publish.”

The almost unavoidable conclusion is that large sections of the British media have always known that the “Wakefield” prosecution was based on an imposture, and have been holding their silence in contempt of fair reporting and of the public at large, and that these people are much more concerned about their own backs than they are about our children.

John Stone is UK Editor for Age of Autism.


Angus Files

Sadly the public main stream readers are scooping the sensatilism up.Our sons diagnosis and our believing what we had been told by the so called experts preceded Dr Wakefield joining up some of the dots.

Wishing the Wakefield's all the very best for the future.

Pharma For Prison


I really wasn't sure if there was a causal relationship between vaccines and autism until Dr. Wakefield started dating Elle McPherson. Now it's for real! Thanks guys! My "celebrity obsessed" American brain can now rest assured!

go Trump

Just another classic Wakefield hit piece that has been written nearly 100 times.

Look for her soon to support bringing back Thalidomide and beginning to search for the "Thalidomide gene" which will determine why "some defective children" cannot handle this fine product.

Jenny Allan

From the archives of the UK Guardian Newspaper 12th January 2011, (two days after Deer's first BMJ article -"How the case against the MMR vaccine was fixed."):-
"The Medical Establishment shielded Wakefield from fraud claims."

Deer was denouncing doctors, including Offit and Goldacre, for allegedly 'protecting' Dr Wakefield.
"Actually, I would like to speak in defence of Andrew Wakefield," said Guardian Bad Science columnist Dr Ben Goldacre in a BMJ video, long after I first skewered the man's research but before Wakefield was struck off by the GMC. "I'm not sure it was necessarily a bad piece of research."
Between July 2007 and May 2010, as the longest-ever General Medical Council disciplinary hearing lumbered forward from my investigation, Dr Michael Fitzpatrick – another author who has defended MMR – denounced the GMC's inquiries as a "witchhunt".
So, what's my point? I think these comments reveal a striking pattern: doctors default to defending other doctors. In fact, until recently there was a GMC regulation that banned them from bad-mouthing colleagues.
But in the specifics of their stance there seemed the idea that scholarly debate, epidemiology and suchlike, should arbitrate. Truth would emerge from the "scientific method", not from "we can reveal" media muck-raking."

Ah yes- good old journalistic 'muck-raking'. This is what Brian Deer does best. The truth? Who cares when he knew he was protected by both the corporate and political establishment.
From the comments beneath the article:-

Ben Goldacre
"My view on the Wakefield Lancet paper has changed with time and new evidence, the GMC ruling, Deer’s BMJ pieces, etc.
Initially, it seemed like Wakefield’s paper was a perfectly good 12 subject case series report, a description of 12 childrens’ clinical anecdotes. My view then was that a 12 subject case series report is weak evidence for something causing something else, and therefore this paper should not have triggered a gigantic and lengthy scare story throughout the entire British news media. It’s significance was overstated by journalists.

Now, my view has changed, in the light of Brian Deer’s excellent work: we now know that this was a flawed and misleading 12 subject case series report. So that’s two big problems with it triggering a gigantic and lengthy scare story: it was a weak form of evidence to start with, by design, but on top of that, it was itself dodgy.

I think it’s worth reiterating that even if Wakefield’s paper had been a perfect and immaculately well-conducted 12 subject case series report, Wakefield’s Lancet paper should still never have triggered a gigantic and lengthy scare story throughout the entire British news media, because a 12 subject case series report is still very weak evidence for something causing something else.
One possible context for the possible BMJ quote attributed to me (I’m speculating) is this: people often suggest that the Lancet were wrong to publish a case series report, as if such a piece of weak speculative research is always and automatically useless. As I’ve said on various occasions, I think it’s dangerous to say that academic journals should refuse to publish things on the grounds that they might be misunderstood by the public, or overstated by journalists, so I do think that a case series report is a perfectly sensible thing for an academic journal to publish, because academic journals are edited to be read by academics, with a critical eye.

Another possible context (again I’m speculating) is this: anyone who’s read my stuff will know that I blame the media *and* Andrew Wakefield for the MMR scare, but also, as I’ve written more recently,
I think it’s problematic that the media have now let themselves off the hook by pinning all the responsibility for the scare onto Wakefield, when they need to look at their own mistakes too.
I’ve been unswervingly supportive of Brian Deer’s work, linked to it, written about it, and promoted it at every opportunity, including now (there has been almost total media silence in the UK on his current revelations), and I’ll continue do so”

This slimy Deer bootlicking stuff will come back to haunt Ben Goldacre. Particularly since many of his comments actually seem to reflect a common sense attitude, particularly those pertaining to the media, which reflect John Stone's above comments about the press and media coverage of the MMR vaccine controversy.

Gary Ogden

John: Thanks for continually reminding us of the perfidy of these shameless worms and cowards.

Jenny Allan

I was sad to hear Dr Andrew Wakefield had split with his wife Carmel after more than 30 years. Carmel was steadfast in 'standing by her man' and supporting Dr Wakefield at a time when it must have seemed the whole world was against him. However, their children are all grown up now and Carmel, herself a qualified doctor, is a successful career woman in her own right. I am sure we wish them both well in the future.

If Elle Macpherson had not been a well known celebrity, the press and media would have had no interest at all in this story. Instead the mainstream press has 'used' an apparent relationship between her and Dr Wakefield, to reiterate all the rubbish and fake GMC allegations made against both Dr Wakefield and the 1998 Lancet paper. At this point, it is important to state the ONLY allegations of research 'fraud' by Dr Wakefield were made by British Medical Journal Editor Fiona Godlee and her co editors Jane Smith, deputy editor, & Harvey Marcovitch, associate editor, in their BMJ Editorial "Wakefield's article linking MMR vaccine and autism was fraudulent." ( Ironically it was later claimed Marcovitch ‘peer reviewed ‘ his own and Deer’s BMJ articles! What a farce!)

Not even Brian Deer or the GMC ever accused Dr Wakefield of fraud. The editorial referred to several BMJ articles by Brian Deer which also made false and misleading allegations against Dr Wakefield and his Royal Free Colleagues, following the 'guilty' GMC verdicts against Dr Wakefield and clinician colleagues Professors Walker-Smith and Murch. Dr Godlee, in a reply to Isabella Thomas, the mother of two of the Lancet children stated ""We stand by the articles we published. If there are errors of fact in what was published, I hope you will let us know. Brian Deer's investigation led to the GMC hearing. "

In a BMJ rapid response litigation lawyer Gerry Ferguson, puts this very well:-
"As a solicitor practising in the field of clinical negligence, acting for claimants, I am amazed at the pejorative terminology used by Brian Deer and endorsed by the BMJ in relation to the investigation of potential clinical negligence claims. I think this attack on the integrity of solicitors acting in this difficult field is one-eyed and sensationalist and has a tabloid flavour that does not sit well with the BMJ's usual editorial stance."

Yes- Mr Ferguson's point can be summed up in one phrase " Trial by Media".
It is still going on. I could fill another page with the lies and inaccuracies in this one Daily Mail article. In a comment below the article I have corrected one inaccuracy, and pointed out Professor Walker-Smith was completely exonerated and his medical licence restored on appeal in the London High Court 2012. Where were the press and media then?
In a subsequent Daily Mail article the content has been edited somewhat. I suspect some behind-the scenes legal complaints have taken place. After 20 years it is time for the press to ‘come clean ‘ and present some honest journalism. They make much of the so-called 'public interest' in their fight for 'press freedoms'. I can't think of ANYTHING more in the 'public interest' than the safety of medicines and vaccines.

Hans Litten


'Generation Sensible' in five charts

Drink less
drugs less
smoke less
get arrested less
BUT MOST importantly they BREED less because we Garda_sterilised them.

10% of the youth in parts of London are now autistic.

Betrand Russell 1950s :

Diet, injections, and injunctions will combine, from a very early age, to produce the sort of character and the sort of beliefs that the authorities consider desirable, and any serious criticism of the powers that be will become psychologically impossible. Even if all are miserable, all will believe themselves happy, because the government will tell them that they are so.


Trauma teddies for Adverse Childhood Events "ACE" study.
See Emotional Trauma -Suzanne Zeedyk /tutorial/ presentation, States- Babies worlds are created on a daily basis by Parents, caregivers ,Product manufacturers and Policy makers.
Trauma Teddies scheme launched in Dundee May 2018 -Police Scotland - Idea passed on from Australian Firefighters .
If every good boy deserves favour , they may cosider doing a "Big Selfie " Knitting pattern for Trauma teddies available online .
Product manufacturers ,Policy makers and the Press gangs supporting them can start knitting a wee comfort totem trinket to deal with their "Anticipatory Grieff " that vaccines are not safe and effective .
Dr Andrew Wakefield was right in his warning.

Dr Harvey GMC Fraudovitch

Why would Boseley omit "to do as a decent journalist and a competent reporter" and "tell her readership what the medical establishment was worried about."

Boseley is paid by the BMJ which accused Andrew Wakefield of fraud - an allegation which even two Parliamentary Select Committees appear to have disowned and dropped, removing it from official publications and not repeating it because it is entirely false and an invention of BMJ Editor-in-Chief Dr Fiona Godlee, Associate Editor and GMC member Dr Harvey Markovitch and Dr Jane Smith.

They all put their names to that false allegation. Strangely the GMC have not prosecuted any of them.

But Dr Godless has made sure they can't touch her as she won't register as a Doctor with the GMC so enabling her to run a journal with lots and lots and lots of fake medical news paid for directly and indirectly by drug industry interests and without risk to her of being taken to account by the GMC - which of course everyone knows will never prosecute the mates of those who run it [and Markovitch is one of the people who has been running the GMC].

The GMC of course spent millions of pounds of money pursuing Andrew Wakefield so they cannot allow the truth to be publicised that their entire case was a sham pushed through because of the third party financial interests in selling lots and lots of vaccines and in fees to doctors to administer the vaccines and for public health officials whose jobs would not exist if there were fewer and only essential vaccines instead of the bloated schedules which include vaccines for diseases which are not a risk to the vast majority like the anti-snot [pneumococcal] vaccine and which simply don't work like the 'flu vaccine.

If fact both vaccines are successful in causing serious adverse events but you will not know about them because a lot of doctors don't report adverse events. One might think they must be happier getting lots of money treating the life-long conditions the vaccines cause instead.

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