By Martin Walker MA
God gave me a mind that is my own,
a mind that has not been mortgaged to the opinion
of any man or set of men, a mind
that I was to use and not surrender.
Thomas Francis Meagher 1846. (1)
Chief Prosecutor Smith, yesterday asked for the most severe sanction to be levied against Dr Wakefield and Professor Walker-Smith, in the resumed second part of the GMC Fitness to Practice Hearing taking place in London.
The day was a quite outside the building. Where on previous first days there had been crowds of parents, there were now only two journalists self censured in a small railed paddock. Inside, the cavernous glass building there was no doubt that they were expecting trouble. Having seen the television film of the revolution in Kyrgyzstan and recognising the similarities in their corrupt judicial procedures, the GMC had employed security guards who sat guarding the door to the Hearing and public gallery.
As expected Miss Smith called for the 'erasure' of Dr Wakefield from the Medical Register due to the number and severity of the charges that accounted singularly and cumulatively as Serious Professional Misconduct. Despite the fact that Professor Walker-Smith has been retired for some years after having been one of the most respected European paediatric gastroenterologists and despite the fact that he had only seen children for clinical reasons and despite the fact that he carried no 'invasive procedures' on any of the children in the Lancet paper, Smith also called for his erasure from the Medical Register.
In her Machiavellian manner Smith suggested that to give Walker-Smith a lesser sentence would leave children at risk. She didn't state which children would be at risk, but as Walker-Smith is now retired from clinical medicine, we have to assume they would be ones that he came across in the park or the local high street. Smith stressed that Walker-Smith's erasure was important to assure the public that the medical profession take these charges seriously. What of course she didn't say but which was completely true, was that had the Panel only admonished Walker-Smith, the public and the lawyers would have been able to ask how Wakefield had been able to commit all the iniquities he was charged with single-handed. In order to win the day, Smith has always had to brand Wakefield and Walker-Smith with the same iron. This is ironic considering that both defendants had many evident disagreements and some disliking for each other.
Smith suggested that Prof. Murch whilst subordinate to Prof. Walker-Smith might have used his consultant status to make his own decisions regarding the treatment of the children. However, Smith suggested that perhaps the panel might be more lenient with Professor Murch and simply suspend him for a period if he shows sufficient contrition. Again this is a bizarre and dark suggestion in light of the fact that it was Professor Murch who actually carried out the 'invasive' procedures which were at the heart of the case. In saying this, I am not being critical of Professor Murch, who all the parents know acted clinically, at all times, with ethical correctness.
In preparing her ground Smith repeatedly referred, with the coinage of
hypocrisy that is her staple expression, to the damage done to Public Health by
the defendants. She also kept afloat the lie - one of the main pillars of the
prosecution case - that the children cited in the Lancet paper were not ill and
did not arrive at the Royal Free Hospital with clinical symptoms. Those who know
even a little about this faux trial will know that this prosecution assertion
has been the seminal reason why their parents were never called to give
evidence. In effect, Smith has spent two and a half years accusing the parents
of vaccine damaged children, of ignorance about their children, of lying, of
demanding useless invasive procedures, of having neurotic disorders, and of
being gulled at the expense of their children by the charismatic Dr Wakefield.
The question of why no parents were called, however, hangs like a spectre equally over the defence council. Nothing that has happened, so far, has riled any of the defence council sufficiently to fight back on behalf of their clients. Nothing, it seems, dampens their essentially cheery disposition while the lives and professional reputations of their three clients hang in the balance.
Bran Deer, the Sunday Times columnist, often referred to by parents as the 'little man', arrived soon after the start of proceedings, having presumably wanted to miss expected demonstrations. Deer, the main architect of the character assassination of Dr Wakefield, imagines that there will be pandemonium when the doctors are struck off. In this opinion he shows the usual low level of understanding of the parents and defendants, who have always behaved with courtesy and intelligence, despite being deprived of research hopes for the treatment of their desperately damaged children.
When Smith wound up the morning session at 11.45, Kieran Coonan proposed that the hearing should resume at 2.15, which would give him sufficient time to get through his brief submissions, about which he was going to seek advice from Dr Wakefield. After a two and half hour lunch break, Coonan confirmed that he had been instructed by Wakefield to make no submissions to the Hearing and that he had nothing to add to the stinking landfill Smith had put forward that morning.
The next sitting day will be next Tuesday when Mr Miller, counsel for Professor Walker-Smith, will have character witnesses arriving from America. Their evidence will take one to one and a half days (in Standard GMC Time [SGMCT] this converts into around two months including short post-Easter breaks and time off for participants to consult with other share-holders and stock-brokers). Prof. Murch's character witnesses will attend on the following Friday.
(1) Speeches from the dock. M. H. Gill and Son.1910.