Comment from Leslie
A lot of flurry going on the past few days about the media in the UK – Diane Harper’s “retraction of comments” and some pseudo-journalist named Ben who hides behind a Frankenstein mask on his articles. My colleague in the UK shed some light on the whole situation when she brought this article that appeared in the Feb 25, 2009 blog post on Child Health Safety
to my attention.
February 25, 2009
MMR vaccine manufacturer GlaxoSmithKline has appointed to its Board the head of News International James Murdoch. Murdoch is also boss of The Sunday Times, London, England publisher of stories by freelance journalist Brian Deer to discredit research into the link between MMR vaccine and autism in the US and UK [James Murdoch joins Glaxo board – Andrew Jack and Ben Fenton Financial Times 2 February 2009].
Murdoch will serve as a member of GSK’s corporate responsibility committee, where he will help to review “external issues that might have the potential for serious impact upon the group’s business and reputation“:[James Murdoch takes GlaxoSmithKline role – Chris Tryhorn The Guardian Monday 2 February 2009.
Some wags have now dubbed the newspaper “The Sunday Glaxo”.
James Murdoch took up his appointment alongside Sir Crispin Davis the CEO of The Lancet medical journal’s owners. Sir Crispin is brother of Judge Nigel Davis whose English High Court judgement in February 2004 saw the end of British children’s MMR vaccine injury claims [MMR Judge Faces Probe Over Brother’s Links to Vaccine Firm – Evening Standard, London 9 May 2007].
The outcome of an investigation by the Office for Judicial Complaints found no impropriety and resulted in no action taken regarding the relationship between Judge Davis and his brother Crispin Davis’ GlaxoSmithKline board position. A statement issued on Judge Davis’ behalf to The Telegraph newspaper legal correspondent, Joshua Rosenberg stated that “the possibility of any conflict of interest had not occurred to him“. Sir Crispin Davis received a knighthood in June 2004.
Recent statements by UK Sunday Times’ journalist Brian Deer shows he helped the US Department of Justice present the US Court of Federal Claims on a number of occasions with last-minute documents to defeat the prospects for the US children’s claims [Full quote below]. The production of last-minute evidence is a litigation tactic which can prejudice the Court’s view and can leave an opponent with little time to counter it. The Federal Court has previously upheld claims of US children developing autistic symptoms from vaccines including the MMR vaccine: [AUTISM – US Court Decisions and Other Recent Developments – It’s Not Just MMR]
A key potential rebuttal witness, Dr Andrew Wakefield could not come forward because of the journalist’s long-running personal campaign to discredit research into the link between the MMR vaccine and autism. The prospects for the US children were also already harmed by the journalist’s now seemingly inadequately researched reports published internationally since 2003 in the UK Sunday Times which have hindered research and are believed to have had a deterrent effect on other experts coming forward.
Dr Andrew Wakefield, the British gastroenterologist formerly of The Royal Free Hospital, London who first raised the alarm over a possible MMR vaccine-autism link has been silenced during the continuing controversial and long-running UK legal proceedings before the UK General Medical Council. The journalist Brian Deer is currently embroiled in controversy over breaches of journalistic ethics and conflicts of interest for reporting on legal proceedings he instigated as the original complainant.
Brian Deer’s Sunday Times’ stories on the issue appear to have been based on his unqualified personal opinions absent expert advice, comment or review according to his own claims [Full quotes below]. Freelance journalist Brian Deer qualified from Warwick University England with a Batchelor of Arts degree in philosophy and has no medical or scientific qualifications.
The GMC proceedings against Dr Wakefield arise from allegations made by the journalist over 1997 clinical investigations by a team of 13 medical specialists at The Royal Free Hospital London into children with autism and serious bowel conditions claimed linked to the MMR vaccine following a medical paper Dr Wakefield authored with the 12 other medical experts in The Lancet. The Lancet’s editor Dr Richard Horton claimed to regret publishing the paper after Brian Deer’s February 2004 articles in The Sunday Times. No parents of autistic children lodged the complaints. Journalist Brian Deer was also a defendant in litigation with Dr Wakefield.
The Sunday Times freelancer published now shown-to-be false allegations [8th February] that Dr Andrew Wakefield “fixed data” to show a link between MMR vaccine, autism and serious bowel disorders in children [Sunday Times Journalist Made Up Wakefield MMR Data Fixing Allegation – 0 – Sunday Times Journalist Admits Wakefield MMR “Data Fixing” Allegation Is Unqualified Speculation – 0 – Sunday Times’ London Editor Must Quit Over False “Wakefield MMR Data Fixing” Story].
UK journalist and political commentator Melanie Phillips wrote [Monday, 16th February 2009 [ A deer in the headlights The Spectator]:-
Last week there was a big vaccine damage judgement in the US – the ‘Cedillo’ case – in which the court said the Wakefield theory about MMR was out to lunch in la-la land.
If his [Deer’s] boast is true, it would seem that the US court — whose ruling looks pretty thin to me — arrived at its conclusion based on Deer’s allegations. In other words, two major quasi-legal hearings relating to Andrew Wakefield’s theory, one of which is being reported by Deer, have depended significantly or wholly upon a journalist’s own allegations.
This is what Deer posted on the Left Brain Right Brain website in the wake of that case:
“….. I’m also very proud that ….. the US government sought my help in mounting its case in Cedillo, copiously borrowing pages of evidence from my website and displaying some in court. I was surprised by this…….. on a number of occasions I would come home, find an email from the department of justice asking me for a document, and see that the next day it was being run in court. …….. I recall supplying a key document on the O’Leary lab business, which the DoJ didn’t seem to know about just weeks before the hearing”
Freelance journalist Brian Deer who qualified from Warwick University England with a BA in philosophy confirmed the “Data Fixing” article was based solely on his own opinions stating in a blog on which he has routinely posted [Brian Deer on February 20th, 2009 22:15:38]:-
I wouldn’t want folk to lose sight of my landmark report of the weekend before last: I believe the first time ever that a journalist has gone behind the words on the page of a medical research paper, and compared its claims with original case data.
The issues go much wider than just MMR: with my findings raising the question of why we give such weight to what we read in the journals.
The work of journalists is always eventually open the scrutiny [sic]. ….. if what I published was untrue, I would get caught out eventually. ……
I was told by a very senior medical journal editor the other day that a guy at the New York Times has for years been trying to accomplish something similar with other papers, but, to my knowledge, I’m the first ever to do it.
Perhaps this is immodest of me, but I’m very proud of this accomplishment, which will always be a highlight of my professional career.
The Sunday Times journalist then goes on to confirm he will be using confidential medical details from children’s records to publish more reports:-
I’ve got some great tables comparing the Lancet paper with the children’s actual histories and diagnoses. Eventually I will publish them
The DoJ was sending out just before the US Cedillo decision the now shown-to-be-falsely-headlined article in The Sunday Times of London by journalist Brian Deer, attacking the basis for the US children’s claims and published the Sunday before the Court decisions: Sunday Times Journalist Made Up Wakefield MMR Data Fixing Allegation 11 Feb 09 and Sunday Times – Sinks To New Low With Yet More MMR Junk Journalism 8 Feb 09].
These events are closely similar to the UK in 2004. Just before a crucial English Court decision throwing out UK children’s legal aid funding for claims for the same injuries the same journalist published similar articles again in The Sunday Times London unusually again substantially based on the journalist’s own unqualified medical opinions. It was later discovered the Judge in the UK case was the brother of a director of MMR vaccine manufacturer GlaxoSmithKline: British Government & Establishment’s Efforts to Deny Compensation to MMR Vaccine Child Victims
No other journalist has been writing the same kinds of stories.
The companion article to the “Data Fixing” story was amended online [18 Feb] with a statement “This article is the subject of a legal complaint” [Hidden records show MMR truth Brian Deer, The Sunday Times – February 8, 2009].