How the case against Andrew Wakefield was concocted
The case against Andrew Wakefield was funded by Murdoch; hatched by Brian Deer; launched in the Sunday Times; magnified by the BMJ
Brian Deer is a freelance reporter who was paid by the Rupert Murdoch’s Sunday Times to “find something big about MMR.” His strategy of attack followed the Murdoch journalistic modus operandi, which a Member of Parliament compared to the Mafia. Deer obtained the names of children in the Lancet article from confidential medical records, and then published the children’s names on the web without parents’ permission.
He was assisted in fabricating “something big about MMR” by MedicoLegal Investigation (MLI), an investigative arm of the Association of British Pharmaceuticals (ABPI), which has led to disciplinary proceedings by the General Medical Council (GMC) against 27 doctors. (Read COTO Report)
Deer began his investigation by the use of deception.
He deceived a mother of an autistic child, using a false identity, and bullied her mercilessly. He hurled defamatory allegations in a series of scurrilous articles which were prominently published by the Sunday Times of London (2004 – 2010). The articles are currently posted on Deer’s website here and here; but not on the Sunday Times website.
Though he denied it, Deer filed the complaint against Wakefield with the GMC. In 2004, nine junior co-authors signed a letter (no doubt, under pressure from the GMC) in which they disavowed the published findings; findings that could be construed as linking the measles, mumps, rubella (MMR) vaccine to autism, although the article never claimed a causal link. Deer’s allegations against Dr. Wakefield include: “data fabrication” “manipulated patients’ data” “changed and misrepresented results of his research” “triggered fears that the MMR triple vaccine.”
Brian Deer’s attack dog reporting tactics and wild allegations were published by The Sunday Times and aired on Chanel 4 News – both part of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation tabloids; both have an ignoble record of using underhanded, illegal tactics – including phone hacking, police bribery, exercising improper influence, and gaining access to private medical records – in a quest to destroy reputations. Those tactics led to Parliamentary investigations, convictions, and prison terms. (Wikipedia; COTO Report)
After his stint in the Sunday Times, Deer was commissioned by the BMJ
He was commissioned to write a series of articles not only defaming Dr. Wakefield, but articles aimed at undermining the integrity of the reported medical findings in the Lancet. He raised the specter that neither the GMC nor the Lancet did; which attempted to invalidate the integrity of the children’s medical records upon which Dr. Wakefield’s research rested. The children’s medical records showing a link between chronic enterocolitis (non-specific colitis), neuropsychiatric dysfunction, and pervasive developmental disorder –i.e., autism — were validated, not by Dr. Wakefield, but by Professor John Walker-Smith.
Research investigations into vaccine risks pose a serious threat to powerful political and financial interests who have an enormous stake in vaccines. It appears to us that the defamation campaign against the Lancet article was calculated not only to disqualify Dr. Wakefield, but to delegitimize a research strategy that seeks to identify vaccine safety issues. Such a strategy has the potential of uncovering vaccine risks; thereby undermining the mantra that vaccines are unquestionably safe. The defamation vitriolic campaign against Dr. Wakefield was calculated to dissuade other researchers from examining clinical and scientific evidence about the MMR vaccine.
On January 3-7, 2011, an International Vaccine Safety Conference in Jamaica, focused on vaccine science, safety and public policy concerns. The presenters were prominent senior medical scientists, legal experts in vaccine policy and regulation, and consumer advocates. The conference was attended by scientific journal editors and members of the media. Dr. Wakefield was scheduled to make a presentation RE: “Autism & Vaccines: a Research Strategy Focused on Cause.” (See list of speakers and presentations)
These are genuine scientists who are committed to improving the safety of vaccines by seeking the truth. Their research focuses on identifying biomarkers to screen susceptible individuals whose immune system cannot tolerate the toxic ingredients in vaccines in whom they trigger catastrophic autoimmune diseases – including autism. (CDC chart of Vaccine ingredients, 2010)
Read Dr. Lucijia Tomljenovic’s commentary posted at BMJ about the prominent scientists in the field of autoimmune diseases who attended this conference – including Professor Yehuda Shoenfeld MD, the international authority on autoimmune diseases who is a proponent of vaccination, but recognizes that for a minority of individuals they pose serious autoimmune risks. In an article titled “Vaccines and Autoimmunity” in Nature Review Rheumatology, 2009, Prof. Shoenfeld noted that:
“the rarity and subacute presentation of post-vaccination autoimmune phenomena means that ascertaining causality between these events can be difficult. Moreover, the latency period between vaccination and autoimmunity ranges from days to years.
In this article, on the basis of published evidence and our own experience, we discuss the various aspects of the causal and temporal interactions between vaccines and autoimmune phenomena, as well as the possible mechanisms by which different components of vaccines might induce autoimmunity.”
January 2- 6, 2011: The BMJ re-ignites the vilification of Andrew Wakefield
The BMJ (British Medical Journal) hurled a cluster of malicious accusations in a series of articles by Brian Deer. His allegations reignited his earlier charges in Murdoch’s tabloid, The Sunday Times: “MMR doctor Andrew Wakefield fixed data on autism” (2009). But this time, the BMJ provided the veneer of scientific legitimacy to Deer’s “three-week package” of tabloid-style, pit bull attacks titled: “How the Case Against the MMR Vaccine Was Fixed.” Deer labeled Dr. Wakefield’s research “fraudulent.”
Read a rebuttal by David Lewis, a research microbiologist who directs the Research Misconduct Project of the National Whistleblower Center in Washington, DC. who refutes Deer’s vitriolic attack.
“Documents recovered from Dr. Wakefield’s files during my investigation at the National Whistleblowers Center (NWC) reveal that a pathologist associated with the study, Dr. Andrew Anthony, interpreted a number of the children’s biopsies as evidence of colitis,” explained Dr. Lewis. “Altogether, the evidence contained in Wakefield’s files suggested to me that the BMJ’s fraud theory was more tabloid news than science.” (http://www.researchmisconduct.org
Deer’s libelous articles were accompanied by a defamatory editorial befitting a tabloid, not a scientific journal whose headline screamed: “Wakefield’s Article Linking MMR Vaccine and Autism Was Fraudulent.” The editorial was penned by the Dr. Fiona Godlee, editor in chief of the BMJ, Jane Smith, and Harvey Marcovitch.
Dr. Godlee penned her name (and reputation) on a libelous editorial that accused Dr. Wakefield of scientific “fraud.” The accusation was repeated in the editorial 9 times and she cites Deer as her source 9 times as well. She criticized The Lancet for having retracted the article “for far narrower misconduct” and also lamented the fact that the GMC findings also left “the door open for those who want to continue to believe that the science flawed though it always was, still stands.”
First question that comes to mind:
Was the timing for this unprecedented assaultive attack by the BMJ against Dr. Wakefield a coincidence, or was it calculated to inflict the most damage to his reputation just when he was addressing a prominent scientific audience?
BMJ’s undisclosed financial conflict of interest
The editorial failed to disclose BMJ’s business partnership with Merck’s “educational” off shoots – Univadis / MSD. [Merck is the manufacturer of the MMR vaccine, whose business interests were threatened by research delving into causal vaccine risk triggers.] The editorial also failed to disclose that Harvey Marcovitch (co-signator of the editorial) had close ties with the Association of British Pharmaceutical Industry, and with its investigative arm, MedicoLegal Investigations (MLI). MLI is the outfit that assisted Brian Deer in grossly distorting the facts to destroy a doctor’s reputation. (Read details here; and a complaint sent to the GMC)
When we discovered the partnership between the BMJ and Merck’s “educational” off shoot, Univadis / MSDn, following the publication of the slanderous series of attacks in January, 2011, I challenged Dr. Godlee about her failure to disclose BMJ’s significant financial conflict of interest that is of particular relevance to the MMR controversy, she responded: “We didn’t declare these competing interests because it didn’t occur to us to do so.” (Read MSD Signs Partnership With BMJ Group; BMJ & Lancet Wedded to Merck CME Partnership & Dr. Godlee /BMJ response)
How very disheartening that the medical journal that presents itself as being at the forefront of championing the integrity of medical and health care research by calling for transparency, should have failed to disclose its own business partnerships with corporations that clearly had a stake in the MMR controversy.
That clarion call by the BMJ editor in chief, to “close the door” on further research
The editorial’s opening sentence declared: “Clear evidence of falsification of data should now close the door on this damaging vaccine scare.” And the final sentence repeats that call to arms. “We hope that declaring the paper a fraud will close that door for good.”
BMJ’s clarion call for an end to research that seeks to identify the causal contributors to a catastrophic autism epidemic is the very antithesis of science. That it was made by the editor in chief of a major medical science journal – at the beginning and at the end of the editorial—betrays the journal editor’s true allegiance – neither to scientific integrity, nor to improving the health of individuals or public health – the editorial served BMJ’s commercial partnership interests.
The accusatory title of Godlee’s editorial, charging Wakefield with “fraud,” and the clarion call to “close the door” on further research seeking causes of vaccine injuries, was broadcast by every news outlet in the U.S. and UK; it was timed to coincide with the International Vaccine Safety Conference. the editorial was crafted to legitimize the fraudulent claims made by the CDC and the vaccine lobbyists who have claimed ownership of vaccine research and concealed unwanted research findings, while refusing to design studies that would lead to the discovery of autism causes. (Read CDC Forced to Release Documents Showing Vaccine Thimerosal Causes Autism, May, 2016; )
Richard Deth, Professor of Pharmacology at Northeastern University, whose research interests are focused on the role of oxidative stress and impaired methylation reactions in neurodevelopmental, neuropsychiatric and neurodegenerative disorders, attended the Jamaica conference. He responded to a reporter’s questions about the BMJ editorial and articles and the controversy engulfing Dr. Wakefield. In conclusion, he made the following statement:
“Wakefield’s identification of gastrointestinal inflammation in autism will remain an important scientific contribution. The magnitude of
the effort to discredit him betrays a strong fear that his suggestion of a link to vaccination may be correct. It amounts to a public pillorying that frightens others from investigating this controversial but important issue.”
“The magnitude of the effort to discredit [Andrew Wakefield] him betrays a strong fear that his suggestion of a link to vaccination may be correct. It amounts to a public pillorying that frightens others from investigating this controversial but important
issue.” (Read Chilling Impact on Vaccine-Autism Research)
Despite a lack of evidence to back up the charge of fraud, the BMJ launched into phase two of its relentless crusade by widening its targets by charging “institutional research misconduct.” Dr. Godlee called for a parliamentary investigation of all 13 co-authors of the Lancet article and the Royal Free Hospital. On November 9, 2011, a bellicose press release issued by the BMJ is a declaration of war by the editor in chief who declared “this is not a call to debate.” She resorted to the infamous technique used by Senator Joe McCarthy – the weapons of slander and intimidation.
In a letter addressed to the chair of the House of Commons committee on science and technology, Dr. Godlee demanded a parliamentary inquiry of Dr. Wakefield and all of his co-authors at the Royal Free medical school stating:
“Institutional misconduct is too important to be left to the institutions themselves…This is not a call to debate whether MMR causes autism,” says Godlee. “Science has asked that question and answered it. We need to know what happened in this inglorious chapter in medicine. Who did what, and why?” (MMR Fraud Needs Parliamentary Inquiry, Says BMJ, as New Information Puts Spotlight on Wakefield’s Co-Authors, Nov. 9, 2011)
On the same day, November 9, 2011, Nature reported that the BMJ had asked Dr. Ingvar Bjarnason, a gastroenterologist at King’s College Hospital to review the medical charts of the Lancet children, to confirm that fraud was committed. Dr. Bjarnason rejected Dr. Godlee’s claim, stating that the documents “don’t clearly support charges that Wakefield deliberately misinterpreted records. The data are subjective. It’s different to say it’s deliberate falsification.”
Nature further reported that Deer demurred, claiming that he
“never accused Wakefield of fraud over his interpretation of pathology records…Fiona Godlee, the editor of the BMJ, says that the journal’s conclusion of fraud was not based on the pathology but on a number of discrepancies between the children’s records and the claims in the Lancet paper.”
John Stone of Age of Autism reported that in November, 2011, Brian Deer, who has never disclosed his pharmaceutical sponsorships, was enjoying celebrity status at a pharmaceutical conference on the banks of Lake Annecy in the French Alps while dispatching his missives “More Secrets of the MMR Scare” to the BMJ.
The conference was sponsored by the Fondation Mérieux – its “partners” include all three MMR manufacturers that were defendants in the UK litigation (GlaxoSmithKline, Merck and Sanofi), as well as the CDC Foundation, the Bill and Melinda Foundation, the World Bank, Islamic Development Bank. Deer was a keynote speaker, his topic, “Money, media and retrospection. What drove the MMR crisis, and what lessons should we learn for the future?” Deer was also listed as chair of two additional sessions of the conference.