Sunday Times Ordered ‘Remove Wakefield MMR “Data Fixing” Story’

[ORIGINAL ARTICLE FOLLOWS THIS EDITORIAL UPDATE 21 MAY 2020]:

When the article which follows was first published in July 2009, The Sunday Times of London had failed to substantiate their published claims that Dr Andrew Wakefield had “fixed the data” in a 1998 Lancet paper about children with autism and bowel disease which some parents had associated with MMR vaccine.  The Press Complaints Commission required the Sunday Times to remove them by the until they had.

Even today in 2020 The Sunday Times of London has still failed to substantiate those claims.

So it seems that:

1) The Sunday Times published false stories on Dr Wakefield making serious allegations which did not stand up and which have not been substantiated by them to this day;

2) in 4 months following the 2009 complaint The Sunday Times had still failed to substantiate them to the UK Press Complaints Commission so they were required by the Commission to remove them;

3) all they had to do was produce the evidence they relied on for their fact-checking before publication but they could not even do that;

4) they had to call in their defamation lawyers [which seems defensive that for an international flagship newspaper title];

5) they misled by presenting the stories as the work of independent professional journalism whilst failing to disclose that the journalist who wrote them was the complainant in the General Medical Council proceedings against eminent gastroenterologists Professors Walker-Smith, Simon Murch and Dr Andrew Wakefield;

6) that journalist had created [seemingly obsessively] a website which in 2009 had hundreds of pages and subjected Dr Wakefield to many years harassment – even to the extent of publishing pictures on the website of the inside of Dr Wakefield’s London England home;

7) one example of an accusation which did not “stand up” was the false allegation Dr Wakefield took out a “measles vaccine patent” to compete with the MMR vaccine. That was typical of the allegations which did not stand up. The patent was for treatment of measles infection and not prophylaxis [immunisation against future infection] so could never compete with MMR;

It was a treatment for clearing the measles virus from the body of someone already infected. Unlike a vaccine it was not to prevent future infection. There was no such vaccine – just a theoretical possibility which, if it worked, would take years to develop.

So the false allegation Dr Wakefield wanted to knock the MMR out of the market for his “vaccine” to take over never had any chance of standing up just like the other claims made by The Sunday Times.

8) Now in 2020 there is a body of sound evidence linking vaccines to autism. Even in 2009 CHS was publishing some of it: Some Science on How Vaccines Can Cause Autism – Rebuttal of Autism Fraud Claims in British Medical Journal – NAA UK NEWS RELEASE

All of the papers used to claim there is no evidence of a link between vaccines and autism have been shown to be seriously defective. A detailed critique here on one of them which shows it is invalid science:-  “Japanese Data Show Vaccines Cause Autism“].

Here are some other examples of CHS publishing information on the evidence including over a decade ago:

Vaccination Causes Autism – Say US Government & Merck’s Director of Vaccines

Japanese & British Data Show Vaccines Cause Autism

Secret British MMR Vaccine Files Forced Open By Legal Action

MMR Causes Autism – Another Win In US Federal Court

US Government In US$20 million Legal Settlement For Vaccine Caused Autism Case

Autism Increase Environmental Not Genetic – Says New Director of USA’s $30.5 Billion Health Research Budget

Autism In Amish Children – 1 in 10,000

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THE ORIGINAL CHS JULY 2009 ARTICLE NOW FOLLOWS:

[ News Release]

UK Press Complaints Commission Orders Sunday Times “Remove MMR Journalist’s Stories” on Dr. Wakefield from Paper’s Web Site

Work by Reporter Brian Deer is at Center of Investigation Being Conducted by Medical Regulators

July 2, 2009, Contact: James C. Moore, Thoughtful House – Center for Children

512.300.9232

media@thoughtfulhouse.org

(Austin, Texas) – The Press Complaints Commission (PCC) of London, an independent body that oversees journalism fairness in the UK, has issued an interim order calling for the Sunday Times to remove stories written by Brian Deer about Dr. Andrew Wakefield from its web site. Dr. Wakefield had filed an extensive complaint with the PCC regarding errors of fact in Deer’s reportage on the MMR vaccine and its possible relationship to autism. The General Medical Council (GMC) in the UK is presently hearing evidence involving Dr. Wakefield and two of his colleagues following a complaint to the GMC by Deer himself. The PCC decision today appears to indicate there are questions about the accuracy of the Deer stories.

The PCC complaint by Dr. Wakefield provides clear evidence that Deer’s allegations of “data fixing” by him are false. The complaint also accused Deer of an undisclosed conflict of interest since Deer also failed to reveal in his articles that he was the person who made the original complaint to the GMC, misleading the newspaper’s readers over the accuracy of his reporting.

Given the ongoing nature of the dispute,” Stephen Abell of the PCC wrote, “the articles should be removed from the newspaper’s website until this matter has been concluded.  This would not be an admission of any liability on the part of the newspaper.”

Although media are expected to respond promptly to complaints through an informal process, the Sunday Times took more than three months to answer detailed issues raised by Dr. Wakefield, and called upon legal representation to write the paper’s response. Despite this the paper’s management have failed to produce any evidence of “data fixing” by Dr. Wakefield. In its letter to Dr. Wakefield regarding his complaint against Deer, the PCC “expressed concern at the initial slowness of the newspaper’s response.” The PCC said it delayed a complete ruling until it has a fuller accounting of all information submitted to the GMC, but that the outcome of the GMC hearing is notrelevant to a final decision by the PCC.

My contention has always been,” Dr. Wakefield explained, “And it always will be that journalism, before it is published, must stand on its merits with good documentation, sources, and corroboration. Deer’s stories fail on every count. I see no connection between the GMC’s hearing and a decision by the PCC. If the Sunday Times cannot defend the information today, which it can’t, then it was unable to do so at the time of publication.”

Wakefield has been one of the subjects of the longest GMC hearing in history. Although the hearing was expected to be concluded in August 2009, information from attorneys involved in presenting evidence indicate the case is not likely to be decided upon by the panel until December and may not conclude until early 2010.

About Thoughtful House: Thoughtful House advocates a multi-disciplinary treatment approach to treating autism and supports a ’safety-first’ vaccination policy. The research program at Thoughtful House is dedicated to understanding the biological origins of childhood developmental disorders and establishing best practices in treating children affected by these disorders. www.thoughtfulhouse.org

 

7 Responses

  1. As there is nothing about this on the Press Complaints Council web site, is there any independent source where the facts can be checked? Alternatively, is it just another lie from the anti-vaccination liars?

    [ED: “anti-Vaccination liars”. How funny Mr Bowditch. Looks like getting the facts right is not your forte is it? But then the facts are merely details, aren’t they? It is called the “Press Complaints Commission”.

    Weren’t you sued for making misleading and deceptive statements which were false, malicious and injurious. Weren’t you ordered to publish a statement correcting those misleading deceptive false malicious and injurious statements and ordered personally to pay the costs?

    It would be an enormous lie to suggest the PCC had made such an order when it had not. Is that the sort of whopper we might read on your websites?

    Lost any more defamation cases lately?

    Stephen Barrett and Terry Polevoy have not been doing too well in all the harassment cases they started against alternative medicine practitioners.

    Your name was mentioned in one of their many cases as associated it seems:-
    ‘Quack Buster’ busted
    Chiropractic Journal]

  2. All these many years, I have been following Brian Deer’s unsubstantiated, venomous attacks on Dr Wakefield’s proposition, that there may exist a negative synergism in predisposed children who are struck autistic, upon receipt of the poorly tested 3 in 1 Measles, Mumps and Rubella vaccine. It seems to me the Mr. Deer is eminently UNqualified to bring charges against Dr Wakefield since there were few if any charges would stand up if the least bit of honest investigation were performed. The zeal with which Mr. Deer pursued the Dr Wakefield and his theory makes me think that Mr. Deer thought he had found an issue that would bring him recognition and he hammered straight ahead without doing due diligence.

    The Sunday Times failed big time in it’s responsibility to fact check Mr. Deer’s challenges before publishing and continuing to publish this unsubstantiated story all these many years. Attempting to bring down Dr Wakefield’s effort to help these families.

    I guess selling papers is more important than getting the facts straight. Shame and shame!

    When the ongoing Court case concludes and I predict Dr Wakefield is cleared I hope he sues Mr. Deer and the Sunday Times so he can be compensated monetarily for the pain and suffering they caused him and his family.

    [ED: Minor edits]

  3. You say: “It would be an enormous lie to suggest the PCC had made such an order when it had not”.

    So show me an official statement from the Press Complaints Commission mentioning Brian Deer.

    Start with the list of press releases at http://www.pcc.org.uk/news/press-2009.html

    Oh, and I have never lost a defamation case in my life. If you believe otherwise, perhaps you could point to a final court order saying so.

    [ED: The reason you did not “lose” the case we referred to was because you settled it and there was an order for you to pay costs. More misleading statements from Peter Bowditch. Watch out for the weasel words. There are a lot.

    I see The PCC won’t let you have a copy of their order. Tough luck cobber [as you are from “down under”].

    Are the stories down from Times Online yet? Is there a legal notice where once the stories were? Can you still find them? No? Shame?

    Where are the enormous lies? Those would not be on your websites would they?

    Oh and the direct implication of what you are saying is that anyone who says The PCC has made just such a ruling is a liar? My my. That looks like another legal action you are going to have to throw the towel in on and settle so you don’t “lose”.]

  4. I had to pay costs, did I? You will be able to point to a court order saying so, won’t you, one that supersedes the real court order which said “No order as to costs”.

    Is it possible for you to go a day without lying?

    [ED: Looks like the bad guys are pretty desperate for you to turn up on this site. And thanks for accusing CHS of being liars. Who is lying?

    You denied here you lost the case in which you were sued for making misleading and deceptive statements which were false, malicious and injurious.

    You threw the towel in and did a deal under which you agreed to a Court order requiring you to publish a statement correcting those misleading deceptive false malicious and injurious statements.

    Throwing in the towel and being forced to publish a statement is losing isn’t it?

    Now you say under that deal you did not have to pay costs. Really? Not even your own costs? The other side just agreed to pay you for all of your time and effort and paid any of your legal costs and expenses too – even your fare to the Court to carry all your extensive affidavits and exhibits?

    Sorry. Don’t believe you. Let’s see the full order and full terms of settlement. Produce them.

    We were right in the first place and you accuse us of being liars. Ho hum.

    And surprise surprise look who has turned up here at the same time as you. It is Mark Probert.

    You and he are notorious for going all over the web accusing people of being liars especially individual medical practitioner who cannot afford to sue you. That is how the two of you get away with it [almost] all the time.

    Well, you have not told the truth here. Thanks for the evidence.]

    And yes, I am saying that anyone who says that the PCC made such an order is lying, because the PCC has made no such order.

    In fact, when I wrote to them they told me exactly that.

    [ED: Really? They did make an order and The Sunday Times is so embarrassed about it with egg all over their faces they have now defied the PCC. They took the stories down and now have put them back up with a notice instead. The PCC is not a Court and cannot force The Sunday Times to comply.

    Have you not asked the PCC for a full copy of their interim decision – what they actually decided?

    And we see you have not published what the PCC sent you.

    We have copies of the emails they are sending out to people who enquire so we know. Who is the liar now?]

    In fact, they are planning to do nothing until after the GMC have finished with Wakefield.

    Well, isn’t what you say something you would call a “lie”? Because they have done something and you say they have not. Looks like we cannot take much notice of what you say.

    They have issued an interim decision because the Sunday Times published a story which just does not stand up. Brian Deer wrote a pile of the usual rubbish and The Sunday Times are so keen to get Wakefield they published it.

    And we know their boss, James Murdoch is on the board of MMR vaccine litigation defendant GlaxoSmithKline with the job of killing stories harmful to Glaxo. So it is all now looking pretty stinky.

    When the PCC tells them to take the stories down at first they take them down and then they decide to defy the PCC and put them back up.

    The Sunday Times can no longer claim it was just Brian Deer. They have shown they are fully behind the publication of stories about Wakefield which just do not stand up.

    And so who is lying? Not us.

    [POSTSCRIPT 09:12 5th July 09 – The Sunday Times took the stories down once, put them back up but have now taken the stories down again. They stories are again unavailable online.]

    Remember, all you have to do is produce the PCC’s “order” in some official form directly attributable to the PCC. Reports on anti-vaccination liar web sites do not count.

    Why don’t you ask the PCC for a copy? We think everyone should ask the PCC for a copy. Don’t you think the PCC should publish in full what they decided so everyone can see in the interests of transparency?Yes they should. And your posts here show exactly why they should.

    Why don’t you write to them and ask them to make a full public statement publishing the full text of their letter to Dr Wakefield containing their decision.

  5. Let’s see…you make a claim that the PCC ordered Deer to removethe articles, and, Peter Bowditch says that the PCC website does not mention it. Then, you personally attack Pter Bowditch. Sounds like you are desperate.

    As for Wakefield, the testimony during the Omnibus hearings should be use to indict him for gross negligence, willful harming of children and being a lying quack in the first degree. I read the entire transcript, every single word, and listened to much of the testimony. The experts submitted by the government destroyed any pretense of objectivity and competence that Wakefield may pretend to have.

    [ED: What a pile of drivel. So it looks like you are expecting the UK’s GMC to acquit him. And just like The Sunday Glaxo you want to start all sorts of new unfounded accusations to keep the MMR controversy running forever? Smart move.

    So when are you going to start accusing CHS of lying? Bowditch can hardly ever write a sentence without accusing people of lying and you normally do much the same.

    Looks like someone eise is desperate that they thought sending in you two characters might be worth doing.]

  6. Peter Bowditch loses defamation case and under a Court Order is forced to agree to rewrite his website.

    Below is the order in the legal proceedings which Bowditch was forced to put on his website. He “agreed” to the Court Order because he had no choice – which is what happens when you lose a law suit so badly you have to agree to whatever the other side wants. And the outcome was under a Court Order which if Bowditch did not comply he could be forced to comply.

    Federal Court of Australia proceedings 1689/2005

    Australian Communications Network P/L v Peter Bowditch and Gebesse Holdings P/L Statement to be published by consent of the parties

    On 25 October 2005 the Full Federal Court of Australia found that Australian Communications Network Pty Limited (‘ACN’) was not a pyramid selling scheme in breach of the Trade Practices Act, 1974 The adverse findings and orders of the lower Court were overturned and the ACCC was ordered to pay ACN’s costs. The effect of the judgement was that ACN’s scheme had operated legitimately since its inception.

    The judgement of the Full Federal Court in Australian Communications Network Pty Ltd v Australian Competition & Consumer Commission [2005] FCAFC 221 (25 October 2005) can be found at: http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/cases/cth/FCAFC/2005/221.html

    On 13 September 2005, ACN commenced these proceedings against Peter Bowditch and Gebesse Holdings Pty Ltd (“The Respondents”) in respect of certain statements made on the xxxxxxx.com website alleging that those statements were misleading and deceptive in contravention of the Trade Practices Act 1974 and were false, malicious and injurious to the business of ACN. The Respondents deny that the statements were false or misleading or made with malice.

    On 27 October 2005, the Federal Court of Australia granted ACN an injunction pending final hearing requiring the Respondents to remove certain arguably false material from the xxxxxxx.com website, restraining the publication of future such falsehoods and to publish this statement.

    On 27 October 2005, the Respondents agreed to rewrite the contents of the site concerning the Applicant, in view of the judgement of the Full Federal Court. The parties also agreed for this statement to be placed on the website. The Federal Court has noted the agreement of the parties but does not necessarily endorse the contents of this statement.

    General statement by ACN

    ACN is the Australian subsidiary of the global telecommunications company American Communications Network Inc which commenced in 1993 and:

    o operates in 18 countries worldwide (North America, Western Europe and Australia);

    o has 2 million phone customers worldwide (approx);

    o had 2004 revenues of US$600 million (approx).

    Federal Court of Australia found that:

    o ACN’s business was “viable and competitive”

    o ACN’s commitment to offer quality products and services to customers at competitive prices is a real commitment

    o “ACN’s offering to customers is competitive and may even be attractive.”

    The direct selling/multi-level marketing (MLM) industry of which ACN is a part, along with companies such as Tupperware, Nutrimetics & Avon, has around 500,000 Australians working in it and has revenues of around A$1.2 billion annually.
    ACN employs over 100 people in its North Sydney Offices and has acquired over 30,000 local and/or long distance customers in less than 12 months and over 5000 mobile customers in less than 3 months.

    _________________________________________

    Peter Bowditch comments:
    ACN Update (28/10/2005)

    On Tuesday, October 25, 2005, Justices Heerey, Merkel and Siopsis sitting as a Full Court of the Federal Court of Australia upheld ACN’s appeal against Justice Selway’s decision and Justice Mansfield’s subsequent orders.

    You can read the appeal decision here (or as a pdf file here)
    The media release from the ACCC announcing the appeal decision is here (or as a pdf file here).

    I was obviously disappointed at the appeal result and I do not necessarily agree with the reasoning that the judges used to come to their decision, but I have no choice other than to accept the umpire’s ruling. The court has ruled that ACN has always been operating within the letter of the law. I don’t like the way the law has been interpreted, but I have to put up with it unless Parliament amends the Trade Practices Act or the High Court overturns the appeal. In any case, the legality or otherwise of ACN’s or anyone else’s multi-level marketing activities has no bearing on my opinion of MLM schemes and their potential to provide realistic financial rewards for the vast majority of participants.

  7. HERE IS THE TEXT OF THE PCC COMMUNICATION IN WHICH THE PCC CONFIRMS IT DIRECTED THE SUNDAY TIMES TO REMOVE ITS STORIES ABOUT DR WAKEFIELD.

    ED: Notably, not only did The Sunday Times fail to provide any substantiation for the claims – which they should have had if they had fact-checked the story, it is obvious their journalist did not have any or else he would have provided it to them.

    30th June 2009

    Dr Andrew Wakefield

    By Email

    Dear Dr Wakefield

    I write further to our correspondence. The Commission has now given an initial consideration of your complaint and has authorised the terms of this letter to you.

    It has decided that it will temporarily stay its investigation until the conclusion of the GMC inquiry, which is apparently likely to be in August 2009.

    It considers that the conclusion of the inquiry will place into the public domain information necessary to inform its decision. The Commission considered that – while the GMC was not specifically considering the charge that you had “fixed”, “changed”, “misreported” or “manipulated” data – its remit covered the manner in which the data was obtained and then published in the Lancet. The central claim in the article (and several of the related claims that have been challenged in the complaint) appeared to be the newspaper’s – and journalist’s – own interpretation of the process behind the Lancet article; the GMC was itself looking at that process.

    The Commission considered it appropriate to await the conclusion of the GMC process before considering all of the points made in the complaint.

    The Commission wished to take this opportunity – in advance of any formal ruling on the complaint – to make the following points:

    • Given the ongoing nature of the dispute, the articles should be removed from the newspaper’s website until this matter has been concluded. This would not be an admission of any liability on the part of the newspaper.
    • The Commission wished to express its concern at the initial slowness of the newspaper’s responses. It expected that the paper would engage promptly with the PCC once the case is reopened. A failure to deal with the matter with appropriate speed could lead to the complaint being upheld on that point.
    • The central test for the Commission will be whether there is evidence that the newspaper took “care not to publish inaccurate, misleading or distorted information” at the time of publication and whether there can be established any significant inaccuracies, misleading statements or distortions. While the subject matter is complex, the article contained statements in clear language, which would need to be substantiated. The information due to be provided when the GMC hearing reports is regarded as essential to the Commission’s deliberations, and both sides will be entitled to refer to the transcripts.
    • However, the PCC will not rely solely on the outcome of the GMC inquiry, or on the hearing in its entirety, and wishes to emphasise that this hearing is important because of the information submitted to it, rather than its outcome.
    • While the Commission takes note of the complainant’s concerns about conflict of interest involving the journalist and claims about his private bias (including what he has published on his own website), it can only have formal regard for possible breaches of the Code that relate to the material published in the newspaper itself. This may include the question of whether readers would be likely to be misled by the non-disclosure of the journalist’s involvement in the GMC inquiry (which is a matter of dispute among the parties). However, the Code does not guarantee objectivity, and newspapers are entitled to print articles that are partisan about particular issues. In the Commission’s view, the central thrust of the accuracy complaint was summarised in the 32 statements contained in the office’s email to the newspaper of 15th May and repeated to the complainant in the email of 2nd June.

    The Commission asked that the newspaper now confirm that the articles will be temporarily removed from the website and that it undertake to notify the Commission of the conclusion of the GMC process and then co-operate promptly with the remainder of the investigation.

    Yours sincerely

    Stephen Abell

    @pcc.org.uk

    Press Complaints Commission, Halton House, 20/23 Holborn, London, EC1N 2JD Tel: 02078310022 Fax: 02078310025 http://www.pcc.org.uk

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