Sunday Times Journalist Admits Wakefield MMR “Data Fixing” Allegation Is Unqualified Speculation

The Sunday Times UK freelance journalist Brian Deer currently embroiled in the MMR vaccine controversy over his allegations Dr Andrew Wakefield “fixed data”  in a Lancet journal paper now admits these are based on the freelance journalist’s own unqualified opinions and seemingly without advice or comment or review by a qualified medical expert.  [Full quote below – See also: Sunday Times Journalist Made Up Wakefield MMR Data Fixing Allegation]

The journalist whose published allegations of 8th February that Dr Wakefield “fixed data” to show a link between MMR vaccine, autism and serious bowel disorders in children is embroiled in controversy over breaches of ethics and conflicts of interest for reporting on legal proceedings he instigated as the original complainant.  Journalist Brian Deer is the original complainant in the extensive long-running and controversial UK General Medical Council  proceedings against former Royal Free Hospital, London gastroenterologist Dr Andrew Wakefield.

The Sunday Times’ story “MMR doctor Andrew Wakefield fixed data on autism” was improbable and shown to be false: Sunday Times Journalist Made Up Wakefield MMR Data Fixing Allegation.  The companion 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].

Journalist Brian Deer has also admitted a questionably close association with the US Department of Justice: [Sunday Times Journalist Challenged Over Role in US MMR Cases] over US children’s Federal Court MMR vaccine damage claims, was a defendant in litigation with Dr Wakefield and was recently revealed to be the original complainant in the controversial long-running UK General Medical Council proceedings against Dr Wakefield.

The prospects  for US children’s claims in the Federal Court have been damaged by the UK freelance journalist Brian Deer’s stories to discredit research into the link between MMR vaccine and autism in  the internationally published UK Sunday Times since 2004. Research into the children’s conditions has been hampered and experts are reluctant to come forward as witnesses.

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 claims for the same injuries the same journalist published similar articles again in The Sunday Times London unusually 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.

Freelance journalist Brian Deer who qualified from Warwick University England with a BA in philosophy states in a blog posting on a blog he has been a routine visitor to [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 yet more 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

Some implications and effects of this approach to journalism were set out by journalist and commentator Melanie Phillips in The Spectator Monday, 16th February 2009 in A deer in the headlights:-

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. This is what Deer posted on the Left Brain Right Brain website in the wake of that case:

“That said, I’m also very proud that, like the GMC, 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. I assumed that they would have sophisticated contacts with other governments and with industry, and could pretty much get what they wanted. However, 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. Bit of a seat of the pants job by the DoJ (brought about by the plaintiffs changing their case at the last minute). Indeed, 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. Hence the late surfacing of Bustin and Chadwick. It was me wot done that, and I’m glad. I don’t say these things to boast, only perhaps to wonder why — if there are all kinds of grand conspiracies behind the defence of vaccine safety — governments and regulators are so untogether that a mere journalist can get ahead of them in the game.”

If his 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.

The activities of Brian Deer now on both sides of the Atlantic were reported by ChildHealthSafety: Sunday Times Journalist Challenged Over Role in US MMR Cases.

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