Journalist with No Medical Training Solves Mystery of Enterocolitis!

By Martin Walker

April 19, 2010



* Warning, this post contains satire.

Tuesday and Wednesday of last week saw two days of the GMC Hearing during which evidence in mitigation was given on behalf of Professor Murch and Professor Walker-Smith. In January, after a two and a half year trial, the GMC Panel found Dr Wakefield and his colleagues guilty on almost every count of carrying out unethical research on autistic children and the prosecution recommended that Dr Wakefield and Professor Walker-Smith were 'erased' from the Medical Register while Professor Murch suffered a lesser sentence of suspension. Following the verdict, the Lancet case review paper of 1998 was expunged from the history of the journal. For the drug companies, however, the erasure of Dr Wakefield and his work is not enough, they have as well to obliterate any whiff of vaccine damage associated with MMR. Now the battle is intensifying to deny the clinical work and results of any findings by the Royal Free Hospital's Experimental Gastroenterology Unit in the mid 1990s.

Today the BMJ issued on line (1) a long article by Brian Deer, a reporter for the Sunday Times, the chief executive of which, James Murdoch, is on the board of the vaccine producing pharmaceutical corporation GSK (2). Although Deer's article appears to be an academic piece of writing resplendent with many references and end notes, it is basically a piece of regurgitated hackery, a more or less exact replication of an article for which Deer was taken to the Press Complaints Commission in 2009 (3).  (See the BMJ article and Dr. Wakefield's response at AoA's post: Brian Deer in BMJ and Dr. Andrew Wakefield's Response .)

Deer, as he admits in the article, has a six-year history of supporting the MMR vaccine and character-assassinating Dr Wakefield and other expert witnesses who have given evidence and carried out research on behalf of parents claiming that their children were vaccine damaged.

Deer was the journalist who presented himself to Rosemary Kessick - the first parent to take her child to the Royal Free Hospital - using a false name. Deer was the journalist who in the mid 1990s mercilessly satirized Dr John Wilson, the expert witness acting for parents who claimed against Wellcome's whooping cough vaccine in the 1980s. Deer is the journalist who claimed that none of the children cited in Wilson's case review paper were actually ill or they were ill from quite other causes (4). Deer is the journalist who wrote scathingly about Margaret Best, the only parent to win a vaccine damage case in Britain's court - had she told the complete truth? Deer asked (5). Deer is the journalist who wrote his 'scoop' that character-assassinated Dr Wakefield (6) with help from Medico-Legal Investigations, a private investigation agency wholly owned by the Association of British Pharmaceutical Industries. Deer is the journalist who prevailed upon Dr Wakefield, Professor Murch and Professor Walker-Smith to write long explanations of their clinical work and 'research' at the Royal Free Hospital and then gave the statement to the GMC prosecutors to use in evidence against the three doctors. Deer is the journalist who became the only person in the world to complain formally to a regulatory body about Dr Wakefield, when he offered his 'investigation' to the GMC. Deer is the journalist who has caused considerable consternation amongst some parents of vaccine-damaged children who believe that he has had access to their children's confidential medical case notes. But perhaps most important of all, Deer is the journalist without a smidgen of medical training who has continued to claim that the children cited in the Lancet case review paper were not suffering from Inflammatory Bowel Disease - were not in fact ill. Just as he vanished the children in Dr John Wilson's case review paper, he has attempted the same trick with the children cited in the Lancet paper, authored by thirteen highly qualified doctors and researchers (7).

Deer's argument that the children in the Lancet paper were autistic but not actually ill, is a hypothesis that fits perfectly into the UK government's concord with the pharmaceutical industry and the NHS proposition, and that of the vaccine industry, that no vaccines can possibly cause adverse reactions. In fact, Deer is just one of the adherents to the new medical authoritarianism in the UK which allows pharmaceutical companies to kill and maim thousands without ever having to face the consequences. Legal aid, the funding system that has allowed claimants access to the British judicial system, has now all but collapsed and the courts are disallowing any claims against pharmaceutical companies.

Inevitably, one asks why has the BMJ published such an article by Deer at this time? Further perhaps, why is the BMJ, the house journal of Britain's hard working doctors, taking Deer seriously? Part of the answer to these questions, clearly lies in the state of play in the GMC Hearing. The prosecution, when they erase Dr Wakefield from the medical register in June or July, will need all the supporting arguments they can lay their hands on - Deer's 'idée fixe' that Wakefield is a crook who fixed research results is perfect non-evidence in their support. But beneath this bizarre discourse lies another more basic one liner - Public Health Policy.
I sat through every day of the GMC trial of Dr Wakefield, Professor Murch and Professor Walker-Smith. I remember clearly that day in the hearing when Smith, the senior prosecutor, pounded Wakefield relentlessly in cross-examination about the histology of the Lancet 12 cases. Her theme was the one, central to her case, that the children were not ill, but had been made to look ill by Wakefield for the sake of the case against the pharmaceutical companies. The case that she was worrying like a mangy terrier with a struggling rabbit was a case where the initial clinical tests and the biopsy had left the doctors in doubt over whether or not the child in question had Inflammatory Bowel Disease. Some cases were borderline, some were just developing, some showed confusing signs.

The discussion took place in the histology seminar, where quite a large group of concerned clinicians and researchers looked at biopsy samples and tried to draw clear pictures of the cases. The argument over this particular child went backwards and forwards, until, when the meeting had finished, Dr Wakefield had concluded that in was better to be diagnostically on the safe side. After all the whole point of clinically reviewing these children's cases, was not for any research purposes but to establish a diagnostic protocol to aid the treatment of the children. It was better to be safe than sorry, Wakefield thought, and taking all the other factors involved in the child's presentation, he decided that the case should fall within the IBD schema. Neither Smith nor Deer have ever shown the slightest degree of understanding of the way doctors or hospitals work when presented with undiagnosed illnesses. This utter and despicable ignorance was evident throughout Smith's prosecution and Deer's writing - it can be difficult to divine honesty in propaganda.
It was the general case propagated by both Deer and Smith, perfect bedmates, that the Lancet children were not ill, just autistic, that they had no Bowel Disease just the occasion bout of toddler diahrroea. Surprising really when neither of these faux medics or their expert witnesses had observed any of the children cited in the Lancet paper and the only vaccine-damaged children that entered the hearing were quickly thrown out when it was said they disrupted the proceedings.
Regardless of this, on a Sunday following Smith's cross examination about the histology samples, Deer followed up in the Murdoch owned Sunday Times with his fantastic story that Dr Wakefield had 'fixed' the results of his research. One of the main problems with this line, was that there wasn't any 'research', as in 'research study', all that was happening was that the whole RFH team were reviewing all the test results and clinical examinations of 12 children; 12 children who had attended consecutively at the Royal Free Hospital, presenting with a whole series of closely observed signs and symptoms that indicated bowel disorders and in most cases regressive autism. The sole reason the cases of these children were being reviewed was so that doctors at the Royal Free and any other hospital coming across similar cases could be slightly closer to a treatment. At the GMC hearing in 2009 Richard Horton, editor of the Lancet and one of the main prosecution witnesses, made the case that the peer-reviewed Lancet paper was an excellent piece of science, one of the best case review papers he had seen.
Deer's mercenary hackery in the Sunday Times turned the heads of a good many people who had previously stood staunchly at Wakefield's side sneering at Deer. These lite-believers now gobbled up Deer's strap line 'MMR doctor fixed results' and used it as a means of salving their consciences. It was a good get-out, a piece of Philip Marlowe that gave a perfect rational to the GMC miscarriage. 'Hey, the guy fixed the results of the study, he's just another tip of the iceberg docs, taking money for fixing trial results, no wonder they've come down heavy on him. Big Pharma is doing its best to stop this shit'. Now Deer had explained it to them in pulp fiction, they could join cold hands with Smith and help fix the hash of this maverick.

* * *
Despite the findings on lack of fact, announced in January by the GMC Panel, chaired by a GSK shareholder, despite the constant air-headed support of the media for the GMC case, the last knot hasn't yet tied tight and the case still confused many people. Like the two young white working class guys I heard talking at a bus stop when I left the hearing one rainy afternoon.

 'OK' ,said the first guy, slight and wet, with a tattoo on his neck, 'We can believe that the guy was doing unethical research on autistic kids - like it must happen all the time. But these kids were taken to the hospital by their parents ... Why would parents claim that their kids were sick and like explosively shitting all over the house, if they weren't?
The second guy, in a nylon fur-lined parka, looked at the damp pavement for a while: 'Well, they say', he wiped the raindrops off his nose, 'Smith tells it like this ... these parents, like had autistic kids and they couldn't cope with it, weighed too heavy on their mind like, so they start draggin' them round the hospitals till they get some doctor who'll say, "no it's not your fault your kid's autistic, this condition been caused by some environmental trigger, like a vaccine."'
There was a spark in the first guy's eyes as he looked at his friend. 'Ok, I'm with you, like this prosecutor is saying it's the parents and this Wakefield guy in this together, like rubbing each others backs. But say, man why would they do that?'
'Way I heard it from a lawyer friend of my brother, man'.
He assumed the air of someone in the know pushing his wet hair off his brow. 'It's like this, Smith's got a good answer to that, she says they both going up against the Man and Big Pharma to make a million'.
His friend pulled his parka around him and shook off the rain like a dog. 'I guess this is all just too complex for me bro. I just hope they get the guy who done it. Imagine all those sick children man, a couple of thousand of them at least!'
(1) http://www.bmj.com/cgi/content/extract/340/apr15_2/c1127
(2) For a brilliant analysis of Fox News, the US centre of Murdoch's empire and how it creates the news see 'Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch's war on Journalism':
(3) MMR doctor Andrew Wakefield fixed data on autism. The Sunday Times, February 8th 2009. For Dr Wakefield's rebuttal of this article go to:
(4) The Vanishing Victims: Can whooping cough jabs cause brain damage in children? Sunday Times Magazine (London) November 1 1998.
(5) Ibid.
(6) Revealed: MMR Research Scandal. Brian Deer. The Sunday Times (London) February 22 2004.
(7) Although the GMC bogus trial of Dr Wakefield rested on the 12 children cited in the Lancet paper, clinical work and research at the Royal Free Hospital between 1996 and 2002 presented tens more cases, which have also been disappeared.
Martin J Walker is an investigative writer who has written several books about aspects of the medical industrial complex. He started focusing on conflict of interest, intervention by pharmaceutical companies in government and patient groups in 1993. Over the last three years he has been a campaign writer for the parents of MMR vaccine damaged children covering every day of the now two year hearing of the General Medical Council that is trying Dr Wakefield and two other doctors. His GMC accounts can be found at www.cryshame.com, and his own website is, www.slingshotpublications.com. He is the publisher of Silenced Witnesses, Volumes I and II in which the parents of the GMC children speak out. Both books are available for purchase at the Slingshot site.

 Lancet 12 statement
 Brian Diagnoses outside the GMC
 Selective Hearing
 Can't Keep Calm and Carry On
Dr Wakefield in his own words
 Silenced Witnesses Vol. 1 & II: The Parents' Stories
 Complaint from Dr Andrew Wakefield about The Sunday Times article “MMR
Doctor Andrew Wakefield fixed data on autism” of February 8th 2009, by Brian
Deer. If you want to read Dr Wakefield's rebuttal to this article this link has to be copied in to your URL box: