[back] Wakefield GMC Hearing 2007

A Brief stopover in another reality

by Martin J Walker MA

November 3rd - November 10th

The Hearing and its Evidence
Some Random Remarks on the Hearing   
The Conflict of Interest Issue
Not Enough Contempt to Go Round
Mr Mole, Mr Dormouse and Mr Badger Talk Strategy

The GMC hearing begins again and the Legal Assessor suggests criminal charges against me.

This report is in three parts, beginning with a cursory look at the evidence over the last week, then moving on to a thorough analysis of the conflict of interest issue, an analysis that I think probably ends discussion of the matter. Finally I have ended with a short satirical fragment that I hope will keep a rather jaded smile on all our faces.

The Hearing and its Evidence

As most of us now know, the hearing began on Monday 3rd November with the legal assessor attacking me for having dared to write about Dr Kumar's GlaxoSmithKline shares. To say that I felt as if I had been teleported back to the Soviet Union of the 1950s, would be an understatement. The statement and it's history is dealt with after this section on the week's evidence.

Professor Walker Smith's defence brought two expert witnesses to support both him and Professor Murch . The first witness was Dr Williams, a highly qualified gastroenterologist who had carried out hundreds of colonoscopies on adults and children.

You will remember, that because of an injury to his arm when he was a young man, Professor Walker-Smith had never been able to carry out colonoscopies. And so it was the case that although Dr Williams was called in defence of Professor Walker - Smith because he had instructed colonoscopies, he also gave evidence for Professor Murch.

Dr Williams only gave evidence for half an hour. He gave an account of thousands of colonoscopies being carried out without harm to children, he said that at St Marks where he practiced for 30 years, there were only 2 perforations in 20,000 cases and specifically in those he had carried out himself over 30 years there were no perforations at all.

Miss Smith had no cross examination for Dr Williams, and in this she exhibited one of the oddest aspects of this case. For the next witnesses, who would give evidence in the coming week and beyond, Dr Victor Miller, would also give evidence about the use of colonoscopy in the individual cases of the Lancet children. Of course, in referring to these cases in cross-examination, Miss Smith suggested that colonoscopy was a dangerous invasive procedure.

If an expert witness gives evidence of the safe use of colonoscopy over a 30 year period, it occurs to me that the prosecution should either cross-examine this witness rigorously or if they are unwilling to do this, they should forfeit their argument to other witnesses that colonoscopy is a dangerous procedure.

Throughout the rest of Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, Mr Miller, for Professor Walker-Smith, led the second expert witness, Dr Miller through his evidence in chief, which principally covered each of the twelve Lancet children. Despite the seriousness of the subject, the hearing was happy to have a good laugh at the admission that the two Millers were not related. Of course by now, we know all the arguments about these children, what the prosecution says occurred and what the defence says occurred, so I will restrict myself to a most minimal summary of the evidence and then pass on to make some general points about the prosecution.

Mr Miller concentrated on getting Dr Miller to yet again reassure the Panel that nothing extraordinary had happened to the twelve children. That they had arrived at the Royal Free Hospital in need of clinical care, and because they suffered from a novel syndrome which clearly linked Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) to regressive autism, the matter of diagnosis became central to any treatment that the children might receive.

Dr Miller's evidence, brought up and laid great stress upon the 'clinical protocol', that is the series of tests and diagnostic operations given to these children for whom there was no previously known diagnosis . This argument is central to that of the defence which says that while these children were not involved in a research study of any kind, investigative initiatives like colonoscopy were vital in trying to establish a complete and satisfactory diagnosis.

For the defence, both the 'novel illness' and the 'clinical protocol' are vital aspects of the treatment, on the basis of clinical need, afforded these children. You cannot, say the defence, arrive at a diagnostic conclusion in the case of a novel syndrome without using investigative procedures that might appear slightly off the beaten track and perhaps even have a blind investigative purpose.

Miss Smith began her cross examination on Thursday November 6th. Dr Miller is a good witness, rarely straying off the subject of his evidence and speaking in a clear but soft voice that carries considerable authority. However, it is not easy for even the most sincere and rational person to keep up with Miss Smith's inordinately irrational and always repetitious cross examination.

The prosecution focused on comparing the evidence of Dr Booth with that of Dr Miller. In essence, this pitted a highly focused, workaday and unadventurous mind against the concerns of a group of doctors faced with children with a novel syndrome and serious problem of diagnosis. While the doctors at the Royal Free found themselves plunged into a serious diagnostic problem, Dr Booth had given evidence about children he had seen, whose gastrointestinal conditions, were, in his mind and probably in reality, unrelated to any environmental causation such as MMR and only very occasionally linked to autistic conditions. It was because of this major difference in the clinical and diagnostic condition, that Dr Booth made what seemed to observers to be utterly inane remarks about constipation being a condition in itself cured by well proven conventional methods.

So yet again, for the umpteenth time, Miss Smith and her loyal retinue advanced the argument in cross-examining Dr Miller, that there was nothing much wrong with the children cited in the Lancet paper that a good dose of castor oil (or it's modern paraffin equivalent) wouldn't cure. After all, a number of these children only had constipation.

This is now about the forth time that this argument has been advanced and we are all aware of the considerable violence that it does to the truth. It begins with the premise that the children were cherry-picked for research purposes, to support a 'mad professor's' obsession that MMR caused autism and it suggests that selected children were experimented upon using 'dangerous invasive techniques'.

Miss Smith began her cross examination in the most extraordinary manner asking Dr Miller, why his evidence did not mention Dr Wakefield or MMR. The answer that Dr Miller gave was simplicity itself, because he said he was giving evidence for Professor Walker Smith who was a clinician, Dr Wakefield was not a clinician and MMR did not enter into the clinical picture; everyone knew something had affected the children but no one knew what and the real battle was to resolve a diagnosis and then move on, if at all possible, to a treatment.

Inevitably, this upset Miss Smith. Evidently, from the fact that she raised these issues and then accused Dr Miller of avoiding mentioning them, she felt she had already lost ground; now she could not cross examine Dr Miller about Dr Wakefield or MMR. That being the case, she was left only with the argument that Professor Walker-Smith had frequently used the wrong procedures for examining children for clinical need.

Dr Miller, who is still being cross-examined on the individual children, does his best, as others have, to combat the ludicrous assertions of the prosecution, but it is a wearing process, especially because Miss Smith pursues her subjects regardless of the evidence that has previously been given, or is even given now. In fact, the hearing, or the trial as it might be called, is completely ossified and of the like that I have never seen. Usually trials move forward towards some convincing conclusion, either on behalf of the defence or the prosecution. This movement is occasioned by irrefutable evidence being given by the defence or the prosecution which actually 'proves' an aspect of the defence or prosecution argument. But if there is any 'proof' in this trial, as fast as the defence delivers it, Miss Smith ignores it.          

Some Random Remarks on the Hearing   

I hope that finally when the truth is told about this case, the GMC is forced to pay heavily for not consulting the parents of vaccine damaged children about the condition of their child when they were referred to the Royal Free Hospital. There is nothing more frustrating than listening to people comment upon scattered and scratchy notes made by busy doctors almost fifteen years ago.

In fact, while fighting against the introduction of the parents into this case as witnesses, those involved are doing the most incredible violence to the truth. It is a shame that the defence didn't think to bring an academic historian or an anthropologist to the hearing to inform the Panel about the construction of historical truth. As it is, listening to the descriptions of the children's illnesses is now a little like watching a populist television programme about dinosaurs. When the voice over announces that 'the colour of the animals was exactly the same as the green felt of a modern billiard table', the question hovers on your lips, 'How could you know that?' All this absurd conjecture could be ended, in fact never need have begun, had the parents been brought as witnesses. While we could never expect the prosecution to do this, why didn't the defence?

Thinking about these matters as I tend to do every time that I attend the hearing, and being staggered at the contemptible way that the parents are being treated by this little gaggle of lawyers and medico-legal administrators, it occurred to me that the Chambers and barristers involved in the defence could, at the beginning of the case, easily have selected and paid for a young barrister or a solicitor to hold a watching brief for the parents.

The complete obliteration of vaccine damage and the children's illnesses, the making invisible of the parents as witnesses to their children's illnesses, is the worst and biggest lie in this case and it is this that makes me angry and sometimes depressed while attending the hearings.

Listening to Professor Walker-Smith's expert witnesses support him, it crossed my mind to wonder why Dr Wakefield's case had not been aided in the same way. Surely an expert witness or two to advise the Panel on the ethics involved in doing a case review as against a full-blown research project or to witness the real lines between research and clinical practice and explain that Dr Wakefield had always been involved in one rather than the other, would have helped his case? I wondered as well why a number of matters that even an amateur like myself could see needed commenting upon, had not actually been thoroughly examined.

Another question that loomed large in my mind over the last week was, why is it that when the GMC can spend millions of pounds on this hearing, Miss Smith the senior prosecutor cannot be heard in the public gallery. I wrote in my notes on Thursday of last week   ' …..this is not a public hearing because the public can't hear it'. In fact the answer to this little conundrum is simple, all Miss Smith has to do is move a little to her right along the table, so that the microphones stand immediately in front of her, rather than a foot to her side. However, I am not going to hold my breath while this happens because I believe that this misuse of the microphones is a deliberate ploy by Miss Smith to hold the public - the parents - in contempt.

Finally, I must make the point that there is nothing more disturbing than a judicial venue over which no one seems to exert any control. In the normal court, the Magistrate or the Judge often aided by a Rottweiler clerk, exert a passionate control over every sniff, sneeze and giggle of all participants, including the public gallery; this is not so at a GMC Fitness to Practice hearing.   When the defence is sitting and the prosecution has taken its place at the head table, and all the GMC administrators and invigilators are in place, the Panel file into the room and take their seats. Each member of the Panel accomplishes this with a semblance of respect and a modicum of deference, all that is except the - £575 a day - legal assessor, whom I have noticed often strolls in to the hearing room with his hands in his pockets. I find this shows a certain disrespect for the hearing and I think that one of his employers should have a word with him. I know that, were he working for McDonalds, he would not be able to behave in this manner.

The Conflict of Interest Issue

I wrote my essay, ‘ An Interest in Conflict' in the last week of August and the first week of September. When I finished it, it was put up on the CryShame site. Under cover of a letter from the CryShame Chair, the essay was sent to the GMC.

For those who haven't read the essay, two things are important. First, what the essay points out; that Dr Kumar, the Chairman of the Panel in the Dr Wakefield fitness to practice hearing, has a number of interests which might be seen as conflicting with his role of juryman in this complex and contentious case. The second matter, and the more important, is that these conflicting interests include a personally declared record, made by Dr Kumar for other committees, of shareholdings in the vaccine manufacturers, GlaxoSmithKline. The declarations were made as part of his involvement in two committees which served originally the Medicines Control Agency (MCA) but are now a part of the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulation Agency (MHRA). At the time I wrote the essay these share holdings were recorded for 2003, 2004 and 2005; after the essay had been written the MHRA published Dr Kumar's similar declaration of shareholdings in it's 2006 committee reports, published in 2007 after the Wakefield fitness to practice hearing had begun.

Before we look at the response of the GMC to CryShame , it is worth noting what I say in the concluding paragraphs of the essay:

Clearly this matter should have been cleared-up with the requisite declarations before the beginning of the GMC hearing. It could, however, be the case that Dr Kumar has got rid of his shares in the last three years. Although this would not exempt Dr Kumar from a declaration about those shares, I am sure that a clear statement from him to this effect would go some way towards satisfying those critical of this GMC prosecution. Other matters will of course remain and perhaps an inquiry into the other matters raised in this essay might be settled by an independent investigation into how it was that both Professor McDevitt and   Dr Kumar came to be selected as Chairmen for this particular fitness to practice hearing.

To my mind the tone of this conclusion was reconciliatory, and for the matter to be reasonably dispensed and for the hearing to continue, it only remained for Dr Kumar or the GMC to say that he had got rid of his shares.

It is also worth repeating the questions and the tone of the second letter from CryShame :

As you are aware the Cryshame organisation of which I am the Chair, acts on behalf of the parents of vaccine damaged children and in support of the three doctors that are before the GMC in the Fitness To Practice hearing. In our opinion it seems important that the GMC itself, carries out some investigation into Dr Kumar's shareholding with GlaxoSmithKline. In fact we see Dr Kumar's present situation as reflecting on the GMC even more strongly than on Dr Kumar himself and we would like to see the GMC make a real effort to get to the bottom of this quite unbelievable situation.

Clearly this was expecting too much of the GMC, an organisation which appears to be implacably opposed to fair play under any circumstances. Despite being sent two letters from CryShame , an organisation mainly comprising the parents of vaccine damaged children, the GMC refused point blank to answer either the letters or the questions asked in them.  

*      *      *

Following a press statement squeezed out of the GMC by One Click which again fell completely short of answering any of the questions raised by this matter, CryShame sent the following letter to the GMC:

Firstly, we must remark that we do not consider this press release a proper answer to the two letters that we have sent you. In the hope that you will send us a fuller and more formal response to our letter, we ask you below, further questions that your press statement has provoked.

We have read the press release of   Wednesday 29th October 2008, that refers to the conflict of interest matter, raised in our previous letters to you, it reads :

We are content that our normal process for panellists to declare any conflict of interest was followed in this case. None of the panellists have indicated that they have a conflict of interest.

Martin Walker's essay sent to you and we understand further circulated by you to Panel members, made it clear that he and members of the Cry Shame organisation found your apparent policy on conflict of interest to be inadequate and unhelpful in certain respects, in that it failed to mention as do most other policies of this kind, financial or share ownership ties to pharmaceutical companies.

            It may therefore be the case as your press release states, that your 'normal process for panelists to declare any conflict of interest was followed in this case'. We would ask you to agree or disagree with the statement that this process is inadequate.

            Second, our letters refer to no panel members other than Dr Kumar. Mr Walker points out in his essay, as do we in our letters, that Dr Kumar, in agreement with your press release, did not indicate that he had any conflicts of interests. However, you fail to make clear whether Dr Kumar actually did have a conflict of interest.

            In light of this semantic confusion that you have introduced to this relatively straightforward matter, we would ask you a number of questions.

1. In the circumstances of the Wakefield, Murch and Walker-Smith fitness to practice hearing would the GMC consider that a panelist's shareholding in GlaxoSmithKline - that is, a direct financial interest in the outcome of this hearing - does or does not constitute a conflict of interest.

2. Did Dr Kumar declare any shareholding in GlaxoSmithKline, to the GMC?

3. If Dr Kumar did declare his shareholding, why was this shareholding not entered into the table on the GMC web site entitled Fitness to practise panellists and sub headed The list below shows, in alphabetical order, the details of the medical and lay members of panels who adjudicate on the GMC's fitness to practise cases . ( http://www.gmc-uk.org/about/register/panellists.asp )

4. If Dr Kumar did not declare any shareholding in GSK prior to June 2007, now that it has been confirmed that up until late 2007 he claimed responsibility for such shares in other declarations, does the GMC consider this non-declaration for the GMC to be the fault of Dr Kumar personally or a failing in the GMC policy on COI.

5. If it proves to be the case that the Chairman of the Panel has at any time during the hearing held shares in GSK, this being a matter which clearly and evidently would seem to reflect upon the ability of the panel to render a fair verdict, would the GMC not consider this a matter to be adjudicated upon by the Legal Assessor and not dealt with by a one line press release.

We have to insist upon a proper response to this letter and our two previous ones. We feel we also have to make clear to you, that the Cry Shame organisation, which is mainly comprised of parents of vaccine damaged children - and therefore people who feel they have some locus in the present hearing - seeks an honest and fair resolution to this matter.    

Cry Shame feels that it was unfailingly honest in it's requests to the GMC for straight answers to it's letter. Nevertheless, the organisation consistently avoided an honest reply.


*      *      *

On the morning of the first day of the most recent hearing period, the Legal Assessor made a statement about my essay and directly attacked me. This attack was cowardly on a number of levels; it was read into the hearing transcript which is considered a private document, not only have I no access to the transcript but it's very nature robs me of any right of reply. Here is the Legal Assessor's statement.

During the course of the recent prolonged adjournment the General Medical Council received correspondence enclosing what can best be described, I suppose, as an essay by a Martin J. Walker raising potential issues of conflict of interest involving the Chairman of this Panel.  

The Chairman has at various stages in these proceedings declared those interests and nobody representing any of the parties, including the General Medical Council, has raised any objection to him and everyone has agreed there was no conflict of interest.

There are set procedures that the GMC have which should be followed for all Panel members in all cases of this nature to declare interests.   Those procedures have been followed as far as Dr Kumar is concerned and there has been deemed to be no conflict of interest.   I understand that every party agrees that there is no conflict of interest, notwithstanding this recent correspondence.   Am I right in thinking that?   ( All parties agreed )    Everybody agrees.

The best that can be said is that this was considerably unhelpful and entirely inappropriate at this stage in these proceedings.   Unfortunately this is not a court of law and does not have the benefit of contempt jurisdiction, otherwise I might be giving a lot firmer advice to the Panel as to how to deal with interventions of this nature.   If anybody was misguided enough to think that they were helping any of the parties, they were not because it has involved, of course, lawyers having to read this and consider it, which will have involved unnecessary expense, unnecessary work and possibly even unnecessary concern.   The Panel members who were shown this of course were concerned about the propriety of their position.   It is an entirely unhelpful intervention.

I hope if there are any more they will come straight to me and that they may not get any further than that.

*      *      *

I answered the Legal Assessors intemperate ruling with the following:


Not Enough Contempt to Go Round

A couple of weeks ago I was talking to an Argentinean friend of mine, as it happens he works for a small pharmaceutical company. I explained to him in detail the predicament of Dr Kumar with his shares in Glaxo Smith Kline, the biggest pharmaceutical company in the world and producer of MMR. The Argentinean was outraged.

His jaw dropped, 'This must be illegal', he said.

'This man has a direct financial interest in the outcome of the hearing!'

Even with his limited English, he evidently understood the basics of the situation.

I wondered about what I could learn from his analysis. The first thing I thought was that there was evidently a considerable difference in the ethics of small pharmaceutical companies in Europe and those of the UK General Medical Council.


*      *      *

It's 10.05 on Monday 3rd of November, I'm sitting in my usual place at the GMC, the hearing began about ten minutes ago; but this is not a normal day. I have just been threatened with the charge of Contempt of Court by the QC paid by the GMC to issue impartial legal advice to the Panel, in the Fitness to Practice hearing of Dr Andrew Wakefield, Professor Simon Murch and Professor Walker-Smith.

I'm staggered, I sit wondering what expression I should have on my face, anger, contrition, sadness or even concern for the QC's mental health. I had actually managed a very method-acting laugh all the way through his short tirade. But finally when he asked all the other legal parties in the room if they had anything to say and they all agree with him, wisely nodding their heads, I couldn't keep up even my clowning and felt enveloped by a cloud of misery at the state of England.

The QC, who is also a recorder, described my essay as an 'unhelpful intervention', adding, ‘…if this person thought that he was helping anyone he was mistaken '. Of course in saying this, the man entirely missed the point, I have no interest, nor does my writing, in 'helping anyone' , just in speaking up for the parents and their vaccine damaged children and of course the more abstract cause of 'justice'.

The assessor, however, does not appear to share this later principle. Paid by the GMC he seemingly wants to nail his colours to a more pragmatic lance than mine. He is essentially demanding that no one disrupts the hearing, that no one holds it up or slows it down. One of his objections to my essay was:

If anybody thought that they were helping anyone, they were not because it has involved, lawyers having to read and consider it, it will have involved unnecessary expense, unnecessary work and possibly even unnecessary concern.

One point he made against me, one of my worst crimes, was that I had made the intervention with my essay '…at this point in the hearing' , that is after a year of its prevaricating repetitious time wasting.

The best that can be said is that this was considerably unhelpful and entirely inappropriate at this stage in these proceedings.

He implied, had I made my observation about Dr Kumar's conflict of interest at the beginning of the hearing, perhaps it would have been considered in a more kindly light. Of course this is doubtful.

The Chairman has at various stages in the proceedings declared interests and nobody representing any of the parties, has raised any objection and everyone has agreed there was no conflict of interest.

I do say in my essay that Dr Kumar, on occasions near the beginning of the hearing, made the point that he had worked on committees of the Medicines Control Agency, renamed in 2003 as the MHRA.

However, absolutely everyone who had the benefit of reading my essay knows full well that being a committee man for the MCA or the MHRA was not the conflict of interest stated in the essay. That most serious conflict was holding shares in Glaxo Smith Kline, the company that produced and distributed one brand of the MMR vaccination which is at the very centre of the hearing.

It would be interesting of course if the Legal Assessor or anyone else involved in this charade, could read from the transcript Dr Kumar's exact words when, during the hearing, he explained that he held shares in GSK. I wonder if he could do this?

The fact is we know that the GMC has from the beginning agreed with the government and the pharmaceutical companies, that matters of vested interests are of no account.

Unfortunately this is not a court of law and does not have the benefit of contempt law, otherwise I might give firmer advice to the Panel as on how to deal with such interventions. The Panel members who were shown this of course were concerned about the propriety of their position.   It is an entirely unhelpful intervention.

I'm still staring at the circus in front of me, all the familiar figures. I am still confused, still cannot really believe that this man has threatened me with Contempt of Court, as if I have committed a crime.

For those of you who don't know what Contempt of Court means, here is a lay definition of the only kind of contempt that he could have meant:

A finding of contempt of court may result from a failure to obey a lawful order of a court, showing disrespect for the judge, disruption of the proceedings through poor behaviour, or publication of material deemed likely to jeopardize a fair trial. A judge may impose sanctions such as a fine or jail for someone found guilty of contempt of court.

This, of course, introduces a splendidly Orwellian definition of contempt, for as you all know, I exposed Dr Kumar's share holdings in Glaxo Smith Kline, entirely so that the three doctors and especially Dr Wakefield might have a fair hearing.

Since CryShame has been in communication with the GMC over this matter, the GMC has failed to answer the questions asked of them and most specifically failed miserably to directly address the issue of Dr Kumar's shares. In order to obfuscate and confuse the issue, the GMC has said on a number of occasions, just as the Legal Assessor did this morning, that 'the procedures laid down for conflict of interest have been followed '. The problem is , this is knowingly or unknowingly not the case.

There are procedures that the GMC have which should be followed for all Panel members in all cases of this nature.   Those procedures have been followed as far as Dr Kumar is concerned and there has been seen to be no conflict of interest.

  The procedure for disclosing conflict of interest, laid down by the GMC is clear although limited - any suspected conflicts are to be communicated to the GMC who will list them with the name of the putative panel members. If the procedures on conflict of interest had been followed, Dr Kumar's shareholdings in GlaxoSmithKline should have been stated on the GMC web site next to his name; they were not there.

I think at the end of the day we have to understand clearly the strategy that the GMC has chosen, to avoid any public exposure of Kumar's conflict of interest. They keep repeating that 'the GMC policy on conflict of interest has been followed'. While saying this they refuse point blank to answer the accusations about Kumar's shares with GSK. At the best this is evasive.

However, the approach taken by the Legal Assessor to the problem of Kumar's shares is something that we have come to accept as inherent in the Council's ongoing abuse of process. Why should we expect anything new or original from the Legal Assessor just because he's a QC or a Recorder, after all he's a paid servant of the GMC, a part of a jury that is entirely paid for by the GMC. It was horribly noticeable today as I sat and suffered the petty tirade of this man, that I was completely alone. As he looked round the room and solicited the opinion of all the other barristers, both prosecution and defense, they were all in agreement. I, and not Kumar's shares, was the problem.

It's a strange realisation that you are alone in a room amongst some 50 or so people all of whom, defendants, defense counsel, prosecution counsel and even Brian Deer are all of the same opinion. I have to admit I felt very isolated. I think that we have to understand that in this legal venue, no one, except Professor Murch and Professor Walker-Smith, (Dr Wakefield having gone home to the US) cares about the parents or the vaccine damaged children.

Finally, for my part, I have to say that I have spent the rest of the day wishing upon wish, hoping upon hope, that the nature of this Gilbert and Sullivan comic opera would turn in to a real court hearing, so that the Legal Assessor could make a fool of himself and instruct the GMC to consider charges of Contempt against me. But I know of course that this is never going to happen and I will never have the pleasure of seeing this man brought to book by some higher authority.


*      *      *

Brian Deer responded immediately both to my essay and then to the legal assessor's statement. It appeared to be the case that my essay hit a raw nerve. His first reaction was a vitriolic personal attack:

Some of the latter, in their pain, have now turned nasty: with me as a target for their hatreds. Although almost literally a handful of people, and some with no link to MMR or autism at all, they've insinuated themselves among affected British families and are causing distress with false allegations. Among these is a claim that my Sunday Times and Channel 4 investigation - which nailed the scare and helped to restore public confidence - was covertly supported by the drug industry.

A string of recent outings for this sickening falsehood are authored by a 61-year-old graphic artist called Martin Walker, who apparently lives in Spain, but last year surfaced at the mammoth hearings of the GMC in London. He claims to be a "health activist", and, although generally of little consequence, is a relentless peddler of smear and denigration, with a track record of latching onto the vulnerable. These he beguiles - like he's their new best friend - and then, if past form is a predictor for the future, attempts to sell them self-published books.

His recent attacks on me are pretty much to be expected from this man. He has a well-worn modus operandi. First, in an ill-written 60-page online diatribe, which affects the tone of discovered facts, he suggests - entirely falsely - that I've been supported by the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry [ABPI], with the implication that I'm concealing this misconduct.

Deer's second response, a brief report of the Legal Assessors statement completely distorted my essay, calling it an attempt to ‘smear' Dr Kumar:

On 3 November 2008, the defendants joined with the GMC in condemning an attempt by this individual [described in derisive tones as "a Martin J Walker"] to smear the panel's chairman, Dr Kumar, with false allegations of a conflict of interest through an alleged shareholding in a drug firm. Counsel for Wakefield, Walker-Smith and Murch all agreed that there was no such conflict. "Unfortunately this is not a court of law and does not have the benefit of contempt jurisdiction, otherwise I might be giving a lot further advice to the panel," Nigel Seed QC, the hearing's independent legal assessor, said. " If anybody was misguided enough to think they were helping any of the parties, they were not. "

By November 10th , reference to ‘ the defendants' (above) had become a direct reference to ‘Wakefield, Walker-Smith and Murch ' , which carried the further implication that the individuals themselves had somehow joined in the condemnation.

See http://briandeer.com/mmr/lancet-summary.htm (accessed 3rd November 2008 and 10th November 2008).

As I suggested at the beginning of this report, I think that it is probably futile to follow through with this argument and that we should shelve it, to be brought out at a latter date and added to all the other conflict of interest matters.

Mr Mole, Mr Dormouse and Mr Badger Talk Strategy

It has long been known that barristers inhabit a world of their own. They speak in ‘barrister- ese ' and reason in ‘barrister- ogic '. The GMC hearing has exhibited frequent examples of the veneer of civil accommodation that can exist between the defence and the prosecution in arenas beyond the court. As I have said before, my previous experience is in criminal trials and one thing stands out in such trials that separate them from the GMC hearing.

The defence counsel in a criminal trial will have only one objective in their sights, that is to have their client walk from the courtroom free of any charges. This objective might be achieved by any mechanism from getting your client incarcerated in a mental hospital until it is too late to stand trial or having the twin brother of the accused stand half the trial, before finally making the act clear to the court. The defence counsel in a criminal trial will throw everything at the prosecution.

The fact that the defence teams of all three defendants, agreed completely with the plainly wrong 'legal' ruling by the 'legal' assessor about Dr Kumar's shares, opens a new chapter in the already large book about the accommodation between the defence and the prosecution in this shabby case.


*      *      *

A friend of mine, Mr Fox, was walking past The Burrow in the Inns of Court the other day, when he overheard snatches of a conversation drifting out of an open window. Peaking over the ledge he saw that a strategy meeting was taking place, between, Mr Mole, Mr Dormouse and Mr Badger.

Dormouse was doleful, his nose twitched as he mentioned in a rather sorrowful voice the Legal Assessors statement about ' Snooper ' Walker.

'It hardly seems right that we let the man tell those porky's about Walker', said Dormouse as he sniffed and reached for his red spotted handkerchief, 'I mean', his voice almost trailed off as he whispered, 'He said, that Kumar had told the hearing about his conflicting interests', his voice got even lower, 'but of course this wasn't .... not in relation ... shares in Glaxo Smith Kline'.

With the mention of the company, Dormouse looked towards the window and almost mimed the following question.

'I mean, everyone has shares in GSK, I'm not saying it's an offence or even a conflict ... be recorded by the Chair. Dontyathink '

Dormouse rested his case and Mole looked at him with a weathered but sympathetic eye; his voice was round and though gentle, quite commanding.

'Always so idealistic Dormouse, whatever shall we do with you?' Mole put on an exasperated face and blew air at the ceiling, making an almost rude noise.

'What could we do', he drew out the words, 'If the Chairman of the Panel was to be dismissed now, now, after 100 days of hearing, what, what would we do, do, can you imagine the chaos' Mole tapped the table with his claw and as he often did, repeated himself, 'c a n    y o u imagine!'

Dormouse began to splutter, seemingly quite angry,   and when he was angry he tended to stutter, ' T,T,T,That , some w,w,w,wo,wo,would say, is a problem for the GMC!'

Badger was immediately dismissive, 'We just can't have this, Dormouse, you really are very disruptive ...' Badger never got to the end of a sentence because his mind ran on and he began thinking about things far into the future.

'Cast your mind back Dormouse to our original strategy meeting a week before the hearing began'. Badger was able to say things like this because he had a good memory, but for the rest of the counsel he always had to formulate a mnemonic.

'Remember our strategy ... Bathrooms have Loos ... and ... SABEEFAP ... what do they stand for Dormouse?'

Dormouse was by now very agitated, 'Yes, I know all that ... I'm just not sure that it's the right thing to do anymore ...'

Badger interrupted him with a leaden voice. 'You can't actually remember can you Dormouse ... you can't actually remember ...?' Badger stroked his whiskers with a paw and looked hopelessly disappointed.

'Oh all right ... of course I can remember ... Bathrooms have Loos is 'Bank on Losing' see!' Dormouse almost fell off his chair with glee and anger.

Badger stared at him without blinking and leaned forward, ' And the rest', his voice boomed a little round the small white walled room. 'The most important bit'.

'Easy', said Dormouse, 'because I disagree profoundly with it', Dormouse's voice too had become louder, but was now accompanied by a high pitched girlish giggle. "'SABEEVFAP' ... ' SAve your BEst EVidence For APpeal '". Dormouse looked from Mole to Badger, it's very good mnemonic but a very silly strategy', and with that Dormouse buried his chin in his chest, and his big eyes looked up and round the table, 'sorry!'

Badger looked crestfallen, Mole looked at his long nails and wondered what Mrs Mole might have got him for dinner, while Dormouse jumped down from the Chair, saying, 'After all it's not Wittgenstein. Lets go for a drink'