Andrew Wakefield backs down

4 Jan

A quick catch-up: After Andrew Wakefield did his MMR thing, journalist Brian Deer published a report in the Times that highlighted Wakefield’s dodgy involvement in the whole scandal.

When 13 doctors from London’s Royal Free hospital, including Andrew Wakefield, announced the research in the Lancet at a heavily-promoted press conference in February 1998, it triggered a slump in immunizations and a rise in outbreaks of infectious diseases. But the key finding was a sham: laundering anonymized allegations against MMR by claimants in a multibillion lawsuit against the vaccine’s makers – which Wakefield, behind the scenes, was backing

Brian uncovered a shocking amount of misconduct from Wakefield, so much so that Channel 4 television’s ‘Dispatches’ investigative program launched a special that showed that amongst other things, Wakefield had applied for a rival patent to MMR.

Please visit his site for all the truly shocking shenanigans.

Wakefield’s response was to launch libel suits against Brian Deer, Channel 4 and The Times during which time he was steadfast, as his wife describes:

‘Whatever his enemies may hope, he’s not going away,’ she vows.

In November 2005, it became apparent that Wakefield was beginning to ‘go away’. He had applied for a stay of one action (a pause in proceedings) and, as I blogged at the time, was trying to use this stay as a cudgel to beat down people reporting on the Times/Channel4/Deer investigation – this was sent to the Cambridge Evening News by Wakefield’s legal team:

You should be aware that proceedings in defamation have already been commenced against The Sunday Times in respect of the article published by Mr Brian Deer on 22nd February 2004. Your article has gone even further than the allegation in The Sunday Times which are currently being litigated and allege impropriety on the part of Mr Wakefield to receive money from lawyers to achieve a predetermined outcome…

However, the actual story was that Wakefield had also applied for a stay in these proceedings too. Justice Eady who was presiding over the decision to stay proceeding said this of the attempt to browbeat the Cambridge Evening News:

In my view that paragraph was misleading. Mr Browne (Wakefield’s QC) argues that, even if the circumstances had been set out more fully and accurately, it would have made no difference to the outcome. The editor would still have acknowledged that he had got his facts wrong. That may be, but the important point at the moment is that the editor was given a misleading impression. Because of the stay, to which I have referred, the allegations in The Sunday Times were certainly not “currently being litigated”. They were stayed pending the outcome of serious allegations of professional misconduct against the Claimant, to which no reference was made. It thus appears that the Claimant wishes to use the existence of the libel proceedings for public relations purposes, and to deter other critics, while at the same time isolating himself from the “downside” of such litigation, in having to answer a substantial defence of justification.

Justice Eady declined Wakefields request to stay further proceedings:

I have come to the conclusion, bearing all these considerations in mind, that the interests of the administration of justice require that the Channel 4 proceedings should not be stayed pending the outcome of the GMC proceedings. I appreciate that there will be an increased workload for the Claimant’s advisers, but I do not have any reason to suppose that the firm is incapable of absorbing that extra burden. It is, after all, their client who chose to issue these proceedings and to use them, as I have described above, as a weapon in his attempts to close down discussion and debate over an important public issue

Quite.

Of course, the poor old Cambridge Evening News, being a small local newspaper had already issued a retraction. Brave Mr Wakefield read the retraction out to wild applause at the 2005 Power of Truth rally.

However, its not been the best start to 2007 for Andrew Wakefield. On 31st December 2006, Brian published an article in the Times that demonstrated that Andrew Wakefield had been paid approaching half a million pounds to conduct his MMR investigation for lawyers. This runs contrary to the bottomless claim by Wakefield’s apologists who told the BBC he hadn’t.

And now it seems like its going to be an ‘annus horribilis‘ for Wakefield – the man who once claimed that there would be an established proven link between MMR and autism in 2002 – as Brian has now received news that, contrary to the claims of his wife, Wakefield has indeed, ‘run away’.

Following Brian Deer’s Dispatches investigation of November 2004, reporting facts about Andrew Wakefield and his campaign against the MMR vaccine, which a judge described as “of considerable public interest and concern” that “went to the heart” of the British former surgeon’s “honesty and professional integrity”, Wakefield initiated libel proceedings. Two years later, after the disclosure of a mass of documents, including medical records, he dropped his claim, and agreed to pay the defendants’ costs

Amazing how a sudden disclosure of documents can prompt such a turn around isn’t it? I wonder what his supporters will find as an excuse for this hasty change of mind?

16 Responses to “Andrew Wakefield backs down”

  1. anonimouse January 4, 2007 at 22:42 #

    Let’s hope that Wakefield is now relegated to the bowels (pun intended) of history, soon to be joined by the lupron-loving Geier family.

  2. Ms. Clark January 4, 2007 at 23:31 #

    May I add: Huzzah!

  3. Joseph January 5, 2007 at 00:27 #

    Fascinating stuff. These quacks have a tendency to conduct science by intimidation, but fortunately they are seldom successful at it.

  4. mcewen January 5, 2007 at 00:51 #

    Oh how I miss Channel 4! When you get a judge who is on the ball, it restores your [my] faith in the legal system.
    Cheers

  5. mike stanton January 5, 2007 at 01:31 #

    Oh joy unconfined!

  6. notmercury January 5, 2007 at 02:46 #

    Ouch. That’s gotta hurt.

    Time to scope out a second mortgage on the thoughtless house.

  7. Friend in California January 5, 2007 at 05:01 #

    “I wonder what his supporters will find as an excuse for this hasty change of mind?”

    Okay, here it is (let’s see if the response is verbatim, or simply similar to this):
    “Well, of course the esteemed Dr. Wakefield withdrew his claim. How can one man, no matter how courageous or pioneering, withstand the withering assault perpetrated against him by the indescribably evil pharmaco/governmental complex? Dr. Wakefield is a martyr! Where do I send my donation to his legal fund?”
    What do you think? Am I close?

  8. Ms Clark January 5, 2007 at 06:41 #

    Maybe his defense will be, “But he’s tall and gorgeous, he has to be right. And they did a tv docudrama on him and everything…” The last time I checked the EoHarm and a couple other biomed boards, no one is talking about Wakefield’s withdrawal of his lawsuit. Either bad news travels slow or someone is working really hard on how to spin this one.

    I wonder if they will be closing Thoughtful House… Dr. Kartzinel just quit TH and moved back to Florida leaving Jepson to handle his patients that don’t want to go to Florida, I guess.

    Hmmm. Surely Kartzinel’s quitting TH is just a coincidence… or maybe it’s like a rat abandoning a sickening ship… Also, Kartzinel is not going back to where Bradstreet is in FL, which is where he was before moving to Texas.

  9. laurentius-rex January 5, 2007 at 12:32 #

    The truth is that Wakefield is a moneyed man, as an NHS consultant he was already a moneyed man and part of the same economic and social class as the directors of “Big Pharma”. He lives and moves in that same world of moneyed men which the likes of me do not have access to.

    As a moneyed man (and now it is alleged just how rich he may have become from all this) he can afford to use lawsuits in the same way that Maxwell and sir Elton John and Lord Archer used lawsuits to suppress the truth.

    Lord Archer as we know was convicted of perjury, Sir Elton John, now openly acknowledges he is gay, and as for Maxwell it is a pity he did not care for his posthumous reputation as much as he cared for it while he was alive.

    Let us hope that the moneyed man, acknowledges the futility of his position and gives up with good grace while there is still time for him, let us hope he turns out to be a man of honour and not a made man, (apologies for the Sicilian references)

  10. Jonathan Semetko January 6, 2007 at 03:46 #

    Kev,

    This is off topic, but have you been on AW recently. Check out Kirby thread. Apparently, being like you is an insult now.

    Check out one of our mutual friends accusing me of such:

    “And do you have any other instance where Kirby’s in dispute with anyone else over a minute detail? I could understand if he had several occasions where the content of a quote was in question, but 1 time? Please find something else to harp on, Kevin Jr.”

  11. Kev January 6, 2007 at 17:10 #

    I wonder who that could be? ;o)

  12. Ms. Clark January 6, 2007 at 21:12 #

    Jonathan, Kirby said that autism would drop in 2005 on video, besides allegedly to the NYT reporters. Kev blogged it here. It wasn’t just one time.

  13. Kev January 6, 2007 at 21:22 #

    True.

  14. CP January 24, 2007 at 22:35 #

    I just hope that none of you have a child who changes overnight (literally) following the MMR. I now have to deal with the fact that my son is disabled for life with autism. The MMR did that. I knew that long before Mr. Wakefield aired his thoughts. I don’t care what anyone says, whether it be Andrew Wakefield or anyone else. There IS a link. Where I live, there is proof! My borough has the highest national rate of autism in children – which can be pinpointed! I don’t need so called ‘experts’. I know that the MMR took my son away and replaced him with a different, autistic child. Since the MMR, every day has been a battle in one way or another. Argue all you like, I am living with the truth, and I know plenty of others who are too. Until you have been as hugely and irrevocably affected by this as parents like me, struggling to cope with what we have been left with, you cannot and should not comment.

  15. anonimouse January 24, 2007 at 23:19 #

    I just hope that none of you have a child who changes overnight (literally) following the MMR. I now have to deal with the fact that my son is disabled for life with autism. The MMR did that. I knew that long before Mr. Wakefield aired his thoughts. I don’t care what anyone says, whether it be Andrew Wakefield or anyone else. There IS a link. Where I live, there is proof! My borough has the highest national rate of autism in children – which can be pinpointed! I don’t need so called ‘experts’. I know that the MMR took my son away and replaced him with a different, autistic child. Since the MMR, every day has been a battle in one way or another. Argue all you like, I am living with the truth, and I know plenty of others who are too. Until you have been as hugely and irrevocably affected by this as parents like me, struggling to cope with what we have been left with, you cannot and should not comment.

    Considering that the incubation period for the attenuated viruses in MMR is upwards of a week, assuming that changes happened overnight is a bit much.

    Of course, commenting on that wold ruin your chances of cashing in – er, getting help for your child.

  16. Brian Deer January 25, 2007 at 13:52 #

    Hope y’all will forgive me for sharing my latest news.

    http://briandeer.com/wakefield/lawsuit-deer.htm

    and

    http://briandeer.com/wakefield/lawsuit-meanings.htm

    You probably think I’m somewhat single-minded, but I think all will become clear in due course.

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