The welcome decision to exonerate Prof. Walker-Smith is a clear indication that the GMC’s case against the Royal Free doctors was manufactured to discredit any association between bowel disease, autism conditions and some of the parents’ reported link to the MMR vaccine.
The allegations levelled at Prof. Walker-Smith and the Royal Free team now have to be viewed with total scepticism as nothing more than a witch hunt by vested interests at the highest level in Government, media and the pharmaceutical industry.
Text: JABS | Photograph: Steve Parsons/PA
This decision shows that:
- The 1998 Lancet paper was an early report of cases seen in consecutive order on the basis of clinical need and nothing whatever to do with the separate Legal Aid Board funded project.
- The children reported in the 1998 Lancet paper were very ill and did warrant serious clinical investigation and the investigations conducted were entirely appropriate for the children’s needs.
- The allegations of fraud based on this misconstruction, propagated by journalist Brian Deer, politician Evan Harris, the Murdoch press and the British Medical Journal (and rubberstamped by the GMC) are therefore also unfounded.
The decision vindicates Prof. Walker-Smith (one of two world pioneers of paediatric gastroenterology) after years of false allegations, which supports the ethicality of the Royal Free research and the integrity of the much disputed 1998 Lancet paper. The children were genuinely sick and properly investigated.
Very serious questions arise about the basis of this prosecution:
a. We have to ask why this has happened?
b. Was Prof. Walker-Smith unfairly targetted simply as a means to discredit Dr. Andrew Wakefield?
c. Why was it necessary for the GMC to make out that very sick children were well?
No parent of a child had complained. No child had been injured. Parents of children who had been treated at the Royal Free Hospital in London had nothing but praise for the way their children were cared for and treated by Prof. Walker-Smith and the other doctors.
Parents reported that their children’s conditions were not being taken seriously or treated appropriately by their own GPs or paediatricians.
The 1998 Lancet report referred to eight of the twelve children’s parents who directly associated the MMR vaccine with their children’s medical condition. This association between MMR vaccine, autistic spectrum disorders and bowel disease warranted further investigation by the scientific community as called for by the publishing doctors. If MMR vaccines had not been mentioned within the report would there have been any criticism of the report and would a GMC hearing have taken place?
How the charges (the start of the witch hunt) were first thought of are described in Richard Horton’s, book MMR Science and Fiction (p.7). Mr Horton was the editor of the 1998 Lancet publication.
”…In truth, they [the people bringing the charges] had not a clue where to begin. At a dinner I attended on 23 February, one medical regulator and I discussed the Wakefield case. He seemed unsure of how the Council could play a useful part in resolving any confusion. As we talked over coffee while the other dinner guests were departing, he scribbled down some possible lines of investigation and passed me his card, suggesting that I contact him directly if anything else sprang to mind. He seemed keen to pursue Wakefield, especially given the ministerial interest.”
Richard Horton continues (p.13):
‘….During the preceding few weeks, one protagonist in the affair had said openly and publicly that his intention was to ‘rub out’ Wakefield. A senior doctor who had played a part in shaping the debate around MMR sat in a North London bar with a glass of red wine in front of him boasting that he was ‘drinking the blood of Andrew Wakefield’.
The intensity of feeling that Wakefield provoked in some opponents was unbelievably extreme. And, in the aftermath of the David Kelly affair, in which a British scientist and respected civil servant committed suicide after being caught up in a media blitz following a few incautious remarks to a BBC journalist, only those of a very robust constitution would have been able to stand up to the continued pressure of critics who wished to destroy his reputation. Wakefield’s tribulations seemed insufficient for some. Whatever one’s views about his wisdom as a doctor and scientist, this kind of malicious reaction somehow seemed equally bad – perhaps even worse…..’
JABS believes this is really about:
- the cover up of the Department of Health’s negligent handling of the MMR vaccine damage issue.
- the freedom of medical professionals to listen to parents about their children’s disease and to investigate appropriately.
- undertaking scientific research and having it peer reviewed independently without fear, prejudice or censorship.
- the association between the MMR vaccine and a form of regressive autism with bowel disease.
Recent Age of Autism stories on the appeal include: