Walker-Smith wins appeal

7 Mar

Prof. John Walker-Smith was one of Andrew Wakefield’s colleagues at the Royal Free and participated in the research there. Prof. Walker-Smith was struck off the medical register along with Andrew Wakefield by the General Medical Council. Prof. Walker-Smith appealed and the GMC’s decision has been quashed.

Here is the conclusion of the appeal decision:

For the reasons given above, both on general issues and the Lancet paper and in relation to individual children, the panel’s overall conclusion that Professor Walker-Smith was guilty of serious professional misconduct was flawed, in two respects: inadequate and superficial reasoning and, in a number of instances, a wrong conclusion. Miss Glynn submits that the materials which I have been invited to consider would support many of the panel’s critical findings; and that I can safely infer that, without saying so, it preferred the evidence of the GMC’s experts, principally Professor Booth, to that given by Professor Walker-Smith and Dr. Murch and by Dr. Miller and Dr. Thomas. Even if it were permissible to perform such an exercise, which I doubt, it would not permit me to rescue the panel’s findings. As I have explained, the medical records provide an equivocal answer to most of the questions which the panel had to decide. The panel had no alternative but to decide whether Professor Walker-Smith had told the truth to it and to his colleagues, contemporaneously. The GMC’s approach to the fundamental issues in the case led it to believe that that was not necessary – an error from which many of the subsequent weaknesses in the panel’s determination flowed. It had to decide what Professor Walker-Smith thought he was doing: if he believed he was undertaking research in the guise of clinical investigation and treatment, he deserved the finding that he had been guilty of serious professional misconduct and the sanction of erasure; if not, he did not, unless, perhaps, his actions fell outside the spectrum of that which would have been considered reasonable medical practice by an academic clinician. Its failure to address and decide that question is an error which goes to the root of its determination.

The panel’s determination cannot stand. I therefore quash it. Miss Glynn, on the basis of sensible instructions, does not invite me to remit it to a fresh Fitness to Practice panel for redetermination. The end result is that the finding of serious professional misconduct and the sanction of erasure are both quashed.

From The Telegraph’s MMR doctor wins battle against being struck off:

A doctor found guilty of serious professional misconduct over the MMR controversy has won his High Court appeal against being struck off.


Chief executive Niall Dickson added: “Today’s ruling does not however reopen the debate about the MMR vaccine and autism.

“As Mr Justice Mitting observed in his judgement, ‘There is now no respectable body of opinion which supports (Dr Wakefield’s) hypothesis, that MMR vaccine and autism/enterocolitis are causally linked’.

118 Responses to “Walker-Smith wins appeal”

  1. Chris March 12, 2012 at 04:36 #

    Well, Autismum, the American fund is specifically for vaccine injuries.

  2. Liz Ditz March 12, 2012 at 21:16 #

    As I often do, I have made a roundup of posts about both the UK high court’s ruling on Professor Walker-Smith and Brian Deer’s anti-SLAPP suit. I’ve included this post in the list, both at Thinking Person’s Guide to Autism (where the list will be static) “What the UK High Court’s Ruling on John Walker-Smith Means and Doesn’t Mean”,


    and at my own blog, UK High Court Quashed Rulings Against John Walker-Smith; Means NOTHING about Andrew Wakefield I Speak of Dreams.


    I’ll continue to update the latter post daily.

  3. Autismum March 12, 2012 at 21:19 #

    I know and its history is really fascinating (and deliberately misunderstood in some quarters). I think that, especially as the NHS is state run there needs to be a separate system (or a less onerous route through the existing one, at least) for those seeking redress and the vaccine court model is one that could be adapted. Off topic I know but I keep company with a lot of parents of disabled children (mums and dads from my boy’s special school), some are so because of medical error/neglect. These changes proposed scare me on their behalf and of those who may follow.


  1. Prof. Walker Smith’s memories perhaps not so enduring « Left Brain Right Brain - November 12, 2012

    […] medical license by the General Medical Council (GMC), but that ruling was quashed on appeal. In the appeal decision the judge […]

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