Below is a Timeline of events related to the MMR vaccine and the Andrew Wakefield “scandal”
The primary allegation made against Wakefield was that he had had an “un-declared conflict of interest.” Specifically that he failed to disclose to “The Lancet” – when they published a paper of his about possible harm caused by the MMR vaccine – that he was also being funded by Legal Aid to carry out research into possible harms caused by the MMR vaccination.
What I find the strangest, but also the most significant feature of this sorry saga is that millions of pounds of Legal Aid money was being spend on doing medical research.
According to journalist Brian Deer more than £3 million of legal aid had been given to “doctors and scientists” (ie NOT lawyers) to research vaccine injuries related to MMR.
Apparently the total amount of money spent on this case was £15 million
15 million pounds spent by lawyers attempting to make a case that MMR had caused autism in more than 1,000 children
“On 22 December 2006, in response to a request initiated by Deer under the Freedom of Information Act, the Legal Services Commission revealed for the first time details of how more than £15million of legal aid funding was spent by lawyers attempting to make a case that MMR had caused autism in more than 1,000 children .”
Deer says that Dr Wakefield had received about £400,000 of this, which he did not disclose to the Lancet.
Dr Wakefield says that he did tell the Lancet by letter.
Since his crime was undisclosed conflict of interest I list here the un-declared competing interests of the main players against Wakefield in this sordid affair.
You’ll need the timeline below to connect them up.
UNDISCLOSED CONFLICTS OF INTEREST
Brian Deer had un-disclosed conflicts of interest
Brian Deer was paid to write his allegations by:-
- Paul Nuki of the Sunday Times. Nuki had his own conflict of interests (See Below)
- The British Medical Journal who had a conflict of interest. (Which they admit Below)
The BMJ admits conflicts of interest
The British Medical Journal (BMJ) did not disclose that it had major financial conflicts of interest in the character assassination articles it published about Dr. Andrew Wakefield. But it did eventually admit them.
British Medical Journal (BMJ) March 15, 2012
‘The BMJ should have declared competing interests in relation to this editorial by Fiona Godlee and colleagues (BMJ 2011;342:c7452, doi:10.1136/bmj.c7452). The BMJ Group receives advertising and sponsorship revenue from vaccine manufacturers, and specifically from Merck and GSK, which both manufacture MMR vaccines.
For further information see the rapid response from Godlee (www.bmj.com/content/342/bmj.d1335.full/reply#bmj_el_251470). The same omission also affected two related Editor’s Choice articles (BMJ 2011;342:d22 and BMJ 2011;342:d378
The British Medical Journal receives most of their funding from ads sold to pharmaceutical companies
And, Anderson Cooper reported, “According to him [Brian Deer], he’s received no funding from any parties that have interests in this over the last three years.” But, the British Medical Journal, wholly owned by the British Medical Association, just paid Brian Deer to write his most recent hit piece, as Brian Deer said:
DEER: I was commissioned by the “British Medical Journal” to write the piece, yes. That’s what journalists do.
The “Sunday Times” had conflicts of interest
Paul Nuki, the Sunday Times features editor, who hired journalist Brian Deer to investigate Andrew Wakefield with the statement “I need something big” on “MMR” was the son of Prof George Nuki who was on the Committee on Safety of Medicines when MMR and Pluserix were introduced in the late 1980s. He was one of the people who approved it’s use even though they knew there was evidence that it was harmful.
In 2009 James Murdoch CEO of News International, publishers of the Sunday Times joined the board of GlaxoSmithKline, with a responsibility to “review external issues that might have the potential for serious impact upon the group’s business and reputation” This was immediately followed by renewed “overkill” type attacks in Times newspapers on Andrew Wakefield by Brian Deer and others.
Dr Horton – Editor of “The Lancet” had conflicts of interest
“A further deeply unsatisfactory feature is that Dr Horton (Editor of “The Lancet”) has never disclosed that his boss, Sir Crispin Davis, chief executive of Reed Elsevier (who publish the Lancet), was appointed a non-executive director of MMR defendants GlaxoSmithKline in summer 2003 only a few months before the Sunday Times article in February 2004 that accused Dr Wakefield.”
Plain English: Dr. Richard Horton was the editor of The Lancet, publisher of Wakefield’s study. Medical journals are for-profit entities, and Reed Elsevier is a company that own The Lancet along with many other journals.
In the Summer of 2003, the CEO of Reed Elsevier became a board member of GlaxoSmithKline, one of the world’s largest vaccine makers, and a maker of MMR.
The Davis brothers Sir Crispin and Sir Nigel.
Sir Crispin Davis was CEO of Reed Elsevier, publishers of the Lancet, when Lancet editor Richard Horton denounced Andrew Wakefield to the BBC but was also a non-executive director of MMR defendants GlaxoSmithKline
Sir Nigel Davis was the High Court judge who upheld the Legal Services Commission to withhold funding from the MMR case a week later without disclosing a family connection to the case.
Sir Crispin gave evidence against Andrew Wakefield to a Commons committee as CEO of Reed Elsevier, cross-examined by Evan Harris, in which he neither disclosed
- His GlaxoSmithKline directorship or
- His brother’s judicial involvement in the case.
Dr Evan Harris, a doctor and an MP had conflicts of interest
Dr Evan Harris, the former MP, who
- accompanied Brian Deer to make accusations against Andrew Wakefield and colleagues, and
- led a debate under privilege in the House of Commons making further allegations of unethical practices
is the son of paediatrician Prof Frank Harris who sat on the Committee on Safety in Medicines and the Adverse Reactions to Vaccine Committee ARVI in the early 1990s when Pluserix MMR vaccine had to be withdrawn
He was also a Glaxo Wellcome funded Fellow and an active British Medical Association member.
Professor Dennis McDevitt – the wannabe Chair of the GMC hearing that lynched Wakefield
“Professor Denis McDevitt was due in July 2007 to chair the unprecedented British General Medical Council hearing of the case of Doctors Wakefield, Murch and Professor Walker-Smith.
McDevitt and the GMC failed to declare McDevitt’s personal involvement in approving the dangerous Pluserix MMR vaccine in 1988.
He only stood down after
- Jamie Doward of the Observer,
- Martyn Halle, freelance journalist for the Sunday Express,
- Andy Wilks of the Mail on Sunday,
- Jenny Hope of the Daily Mail and
- Heather Mills of Private Eye
challenged the GMC over the matter.
More about McDevitt
GMC Challenged On MMR Inquiry Chief’s Vaccine Firm Links
London, England & Scotland/May 2007/JWock/
The Chairman of the General Medical Council’s inquiry into MMR vaccine doctor Andrew Wakefield, Professor Dennis McDevitt, is being challenged over undisclosed personal interests.
On 11th July this year an unprecedented 14 week GMC hearing chaired by Professor McDevitt was due to commence into charges against Dr Andrew Wakefield of the Royal Free Hospital relating to the controversial vaccine. However, previously secret government minutes reveal Professor McDevitt was himself a member of a 1988 government safety panel which approved Pluserix MMR as safe for vaccine manufacturer Smith Kline & French Laboratories (see HYPERLINK
Apparently these un-declared conflicts of interest do not tarnish their actions, yet somehow Dr Wakefield’s did.
According to one independent UK investigator, Alan Golding, who obtained Freedom of Information documents on the case, in “1986 Trivirix, an MMR compound containing the Mumps Urabe strain AM-9, was introduced in Canada to replace MMRI.
Concerns regarding the introduction of MMR in the UK are recorded in the minutes of the Joint Working Party of the British Paediatric Association and the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunization (JCVI) Liaison Group on June 26th of that year.
Such concerns were soon to prove well grounded, as reports began to come in of an increased incidence of aseptic meningitis in vaccinated individuals. Ultimately, all MMR vaccines containing the Urabe strain of mumps were withdrawn in Canada in early 1988.
MMR was withdrawn in Canada BEFORE Urabe containing vaccines were licensed by the Department of Health for use in the UK…
The report adds, “Smith-Kline-French, the pharmaceutical company who became Smith-Kline-Beecham and were involved in UK manufacture at that time, were concerned about these safety issues and were reluctant to obtain a UK license for their Urabe-containing vaccines.
As a result of their ‘concern’ that children might be seriously damaged by one of their products, they requested that the UK government indemnify them against possible legal action that might be taken as a result of ‘losses’ associated with the vaccine, which by then was known to carry significant risk to health.
The UK government, advised by Professor Salisbury and representatives from the Department of Health, in it’s enthusiasm to get a cheap MMR onto the market, agreed to this request.”
The UK government indemnified the manufacturers of the vaccine against legal action from people harmed by the vaccine
Three brands of MMR introduced by Department of Health .
Investigations into the claims of injury started in 1991 when applications for legal aid were first being filed
Nearly 2000 children alleged to be suffering from autism, deafness, bowel disorders and other serious injuries caused by the vaccine filed legal claims against manufacturer Smith Kline & French Laboratories Ltd. Investigations into the claims started in 1991 when applications for legal aid were first being filed.
Dr Wakefield was retained as an expert witness in the legal claims.
Wakefield disclosed his status as an expert witness funded by legal aid in a letter to the Lancet in 1998 – so this was known to The Lancet.
The vaccine was given to 85% of MMR vaccinated children between 1988 and 1992. Labour MP Jack Ashley said at the time of the 1992 withdrawal that correspondence with Minister Virginia Bottomley MP confirmed government knew of the problems in March 1991, some 18 months earlier.
Two brands, Pluserix and Immravax were withdrawn in the UK by September 1992 because they contained a mumps strain known as Urabe which had caused meningitis in some children in the UK.
Pluserix MMR caused very high levels of adverse reactions and was withdrawn by the manufacturers on very little notice in late 1992 leaving the Department of Health in an embarrassing position
Pluserix-MMR manufactured by SmithKline Beecham was withdrawn in the UK on the 14th September 1992 because of “reports of mild transient meningitis.”
Immravax made by the French company, Merieux UK Ltd. This was also withdrawn on the same date and for the same reason as Pluserix-MMR – because of “reports of mild transient meningitis.”.
The Measles Rubella Campaign of 1994
In November 1994 the government begins a measles and rubella vaccination campaign – Booster
a most urgent warning sent out November (1994) to doctors and the parents of 8 million children by the Department of Health, saying “definitely” there would be a measles epidemic in 1995 that would infect between 100,000 and 200,000 children and that “around 50 children, mostly of secondary school age, would die” – that is, if children of between 5 and 15 were not revaccinated.
It was called a re-vaccination campaign because the children had previously been vaccinated, depending on their age, with the measles vaccine or with the MMR. This massive re-vaccination took place in November and December 1994.
But this must surely be an admission that the first vaccination against measles didn’t work, otherwise why would a second one be required??
Some doctors and scientists said that the re-vaccination was not necessary.
The campaign to vaccinate 8m school children in the UK followed public health specialists’ forecasts of a measles epidemic on a scale not seen since the 1950s. Parents were told that up to 200,000 people could be infected, and there would be up to 50 deaths among children in an outbreak.
In the event, only 35 measles cases were diagnosed in the first four months of 1995, just two of them in children.
Friday, 3 November 1995
More than 500 children suffered serious reactions following last year’s measles vaccination campaign, which some scientists believe was unnecessary.
Tom Sackville, Parliamentary Secretary at the Department of Health, said last night that one quarter of the 530 cases were of the “immediate allergic type reactions from which no serious or long-lasting effects were known to have resulted.”
Three-quarters suffered “late-onset” serious reactions, such as arthritis or flu-like symptoms but none suffered any long-term damage, a spokesman for the Department said. “The Medicines Control Agency has checked them all out and found no causal link.”
But parents of more than 170 children who, it is claimed, developed crippling illnesses after the immunisation, last night dismissed suggestions that no child suffered long-term damage.
They claim their children, aged between five and 16, have been left with problems ranging from partial paralysis and incontinence to seizures and brain damage, and up to 100 promised they would continue with legal action for compensation. The parents say appropriate warnings about the risks were not given.
Jackie Fletcher, founder of JABS, a parents’ support group ,said: “The ministers are out of touch with what has happened if they truly believe that no child suffered long-term damage.”
=== JABS ===
9 August 2010
MMR campaigner from Warrington wins £90,000 payout
Jackie and Robert Fletcher << see “Jabs”>>
The mother of a Cheshire teenager who was left severely brain damaged by the MMR vaccine has won a compensation award from the government.
Robert Fletcher, 18, from Warrington, suffered a fit 10 days after he had the vaccination when he was 13 months old
His mother Jackie received the £90,000 payout from a medical assessment panel last week.
The family successfully appealed after their application for compensation was originally turned down in 1997.
In 1995 Dr Wakefield became an expert witness in this case, retained by the solicitor on behalf of the parents making the claim.
In October 1997
- Dr Andrew Wakefield and
- Professor Walker-Smith from the Royal Free Hospital, London,
- JABS and its legal representatives
took part in a meeting with the then Health Minister, Tessa Jowell, also the Chief Medical Officer, Principal Medical Officer and others.
During the course of the one hour meeting a full list of children, then affected, was presented.
We asked that the Government should instigate a scientific investigation of the children believed to have been damaged
In 1998 The Lancet published the now controversial study by Dr Andrew Wakefield’s Royal Free Hospital London research team into links between autism and the MMR vaccine.
Wakefield, AJ, Murch SH, Anthony A et al. Early report: Ileal-lymphoid-nodular hyperplasia, non-specific colitis and pervasive development disorder. The Lancet: 1998;351:637-41.
This paper exlicitly states that it is NOT a proof. See – the fantastic “Did not prove” quote:- https://www.bmj.com/content/suppl/2002/05/16/324.7347.1224.DC1
Wakefield sparked a furore with the government later to involve Prime Minister Tony Blair when at a March 1998 press conference he suggested single measles jabs be made available alongside MMR.
Dr. Andrew Wakefield testifies before the (US) Government Reform Committee Hearing on Vaccines and Autism, April 6, 2000, Chairman: Representative Dan Burton.
“Top UK Doctor Ties 170 cases of Autism to MMR Baby Vaccine,” London Telegraph, 1-21-01
(For more info on Dan Burton see my documentary //////
Wakefield publishes a paper called “Through a Glass, Darkly.” In it he attacks the Committee On The Safety Of Vaccines.
TITLE: Measles, mumps, rubella vaccine: through a glass, darkly.
KEYWORDS: Safety of MMR vaccine, pre-licensing studies, adverse events.
AUTHORS: Wakefield AJ, Montgomery SM.
JOURNAL: Adverse Drug React Toxicol Rev 2000; 19(4):265–83.
This paper alleges that early studies of the MMR vaccine indicated a safety problem, and the licensure was premature. It focuses on pre-licensing studies of the MMR vaccine and the documentation of subsequent adverse events.
Six pre-licensing studies are quoted (four from the US, one from Japan, one from the UK) prior to licensing of MMR in the UK (1988). They criticise the small patient sample sizes (174 to 10,000) and short follow-up time (max. 28 days) to detect adverse events.
The authors argue that gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms reported from these trials were ignored or overlooked, and suggest that GI symptoms are worse with the combined MMR vaccine rather than the single antigen measles vaccine alone. They highlight concerns over the potential for interference between the components of vaccines, particularly in view of the immunosupressive properties of the wild measles virus. In conclusion, they state ‘a significant index of suspicion exists for MMR, autism and inflammatory bowel disease, without adequate evidence of safety’.
Wakefield appears on a TV program called “60 Minutes”
Meanwhile in America, a ferocious anti-vaccine movement took off after Wakefield toured US autism conferences and, in November 2000, appeared on the CBS network’s 60 Minutes programme linking MMR with what he called an “epidemic of autism”.
On 22/1/01, the UK DoH launched a £3m publicity campaign for MMR and rejected the Wakefield & Montgomery “Through A Glass Darkly” MMR safety-test paper
“Top UK Doctor Ties 170 Cases Of Autism To MMR Baby Vaccine”
By Lorraine Fraser – Medical Correspondent http://www.telegraph.co.uk Jan-21-2001
The 31st May 2001 edition of Private Eye, an independent UK publication, contained the following report on the GlaxoSmithKline Measles, Mumps, Rubella vaccine.
“A landmark ruling in the French appeal courts against UK vaccine manufacturer GSKpassed almost unnoticed by the British media. The courts reached a decision that vaccine damage had taken place, based on serious, precise presumptions and similar evidence…. This has huge importance for the 3,000 UK families now seeking to sue SmithKline and another company over damage they say was caused to their children by the MMR jab.”
“Private Eye” publish a 32-page MMR Special Report
During the early 2000s Private Eye published many stories on the MMR vaccine controversy, substantially supporting the interpretation by Andrew Wakefield of published research in The Lancet by the Royal Free Hospital’s Inflammatory Bowel Disease Study Group, which described an apparent link between the vaccine, autism and bowel problems.
Many of these stories accused medical researchers who supported the vaccine’s safety of having conflicts of interest because of funding from the pharmaceutical industry.
Initially dismissive of Wakefield, the magazine rapidly moved to support him, in 2002 publishing a 32-page MMR Special Report that supported Wakefield’s assertion that MMR vaccines “should be given individually at not less than one year intervals.”
The British Medical Journal issued a contemporary press release that concluded: “The Eye report is dangerous in that it is likely to be read by people who are concerned about the safety of the vaccine. A doubting parent who reads this might be convinced there is a genuine problem and the absence of any proper references will prevent them from checking the many misleading statements.”
Subsequently, editor Ian Hislop told the author and columnist Ben Goldacre that Private Eye is “not anti-MMR”.
In a review article published in February 2010, after Wakefield was disciplined by the General Medical Council, regular columnist Phil Hammond, who contributes under the pseudonym “M.D.”, stated that “Private Eye got it wrong in its coverage of MMR”, in maintaining its support for Wakefield’s position long after shortcomings in his work had emerged.
Almost 2,000 families whose children became autistic or had other serious adverse events after MMR attempted to take legal action in the UK, against MMR manufacturers
1. Aventis Pasteur MSD Ltd,
2. Merck and Company Inc,
3. SmithKline Beecham & French Laboratories Ltd and
4. SmithKline Beecham Plc.
The trial date for families versus GSK was originally fixed for October 2003 in the High Court of Justice in London, and then delayed until early 2004. However, in autumn 2003, the UK Legal Services Commission, under the management of a newly-appointed Chief Executive, suddenly withdrew funding from the cases, claiming that there was little chance of success and that it was not the role of the LSC to fund research. This was after £15m had been spent, and the estimate was that a further £10m would be necessary.
An appeal against that decision is lodged.
5th February 2004 – Deer‘s first letter of complaint to the GMC (of 2)
Brian Deer made allegations during a meeting at the Lancet on the morning of February `18, 2004
On Saturday 21 February 2004, Lancet Editor Richard Horton pre-empted the Sunday Times stories. Horton was reported in The Times claiming he would not have published the MMR part of The Royal Free’s Lancet paper had Wakefield’s paid involvement in the MMR litigation been disclosed.
The Sunday Times had waited until Sunday 22 February 2004, 5 days before judgment in the MMR child litigants’ High Court challenge to the withdrawal of legal aid, to publish its stories attacking Wakefield. Prime Minister Blair was reported in the press on the issue as was Health Secretary Reid.
Dr Horton Lancet Feb 2004
Dr. Horton (Lancet Editor) has given conflicting accounts about the purpose of the Legal Aid Board research grant awarded to Dr. Wakefield.
Brian Deer alleged during the meeting at the Lancet on the morning of February `18, 2004, that the Lancet Case Series was funded by the Legal Board and therefore that Dr. Wakefield had failed to disclose this funding source, which, if true, would have been an actual conflict of interest under the then-applicable disclosure rules at the Lancet.
Dr. Wakefield was easily able to refute that allegation during his (and colleagues) meeting with Dr. Horton later that same day by explaining that the Legal Aid Board funding related to an as yet unpublished virology study while the Lancet Case Series was funded from the Royal Free and NHS.
Based upon this explanation,
Dr. Horton immediately retreated from any of an actual conflict to a claim of a possible perceived conflict of interest.
Sunday 22rd February 2004, The Sunday Times published an ‘expose’ by Brian Deer that accused Dr Wakefield of a series of ‘crimes’ and serious ethical irregularities. In this article the then Secretary of State for Health, Reid asserted that Dr Wakefield should be reported to the General Medical Council. Within a week of the article being published, Brian Deer had complied with this instruction and handed a summary complaint in to the GMC. Later that year Deer also reported in a Dispatches programme about Dr Wakefield’s work in North America.
27th February 2004
An appeal by the plaintiffs against withdrawal of legal aid was unsuccessful.
The parents’ lawyers then obtained leave for a judicial review of the LSC’s decision. This was held in February 2004.
The judge upheld the LSC’s original decision. The UK legal action has stalled due to lack of funding.
THE TRIAL IS STOPPED BECAUSE THE PLAINTIFFS CANNOT AFFORD IT
AND SO IS THE INVESTIGATION INTO MMR BY “SCIENTISTS AND DOCTORS” THAT WAS BEING FUNDED BY MILLIONS OF POUNDS OF LEGAL AID
Judicial Review of withdrawal of Legal aid for trial of big pharma was denied on 27th February 2004 in a secret judgment by High Court Judge Nigel Davis. The reasons remain unpublished today. Evidence given in open court at a different hearing included the allegation from a parent that an official admitted to her that legal aid was withdrawn after government pressure.
Parent Elaine Butler demands an inquiry “We believe the evidence shows very clearly that our children were damaged by this vaccine. If it was so important to the government, then they should have ensured the case went to trial with full funding so everyone could see the evidence in open court. The additional amount that would cost compared to all the money spent by the government and NHS on attacking Wakefield and promoting MMR is trivial. …. People in the UK are 60 times more likely to be hit by lightning than killed by measles and the official government figures show that disparity will continue to increase over time. ”
On 15th March 2004 Dr Evan Harris (who is also an MP) launched an unprecedented and defamatory Parliamentary attack on Wakefield and his Royal Free colleagues. This was based on material in documents Sunday Times freelancer Deer had obtained and passed to Harris. Harris used the opportunity to raise allegations The Sunday Times chose not to publish.
GMC finally brought in its verdict against the three doctors in January 2010
- All three found guilty
- Wakefield & Professor Simon Walker struck off.
Dr Peter Fletcher, a former chief scientific officer at the Department of Health makes statements to the Mail on Sunday in 2006 :
“A former Government medical officer responsible for deciding whether medicines are safe has accused the Government of “utterly inexplicable complacency” over the MMR triple vaccine for children.
“Dr Peter Fletcher, who was Chief Scientific Officer at the Department of Health, said if it is proven that the jab causes autism, “the refusal by governments to evaluate the risks properly will make this one of the greatest scandals in medical history”.
“He added that after agreeing to be an expert witness on drug-safety trials for parents’ lawyers, he had received and studied thousands of documents relating to the case which he believed the public had a right to see.”
“He said he has seen a “steady accumulation of evidence” from scientists worldwide that the measles, mumps and rubella jab is causing brain damage in certain children.”
“But he added: “There are very powerful people in positions of great authority in Britain and elsewhere who have staked their reputations and careers on the safety of MMR and they are willing to do almost anything to protect themselves.”