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Acting on Information Received

1. ‘You're out of order! You're out of order! The whole trial is out of order! They're out of order!’


2. It is not necessary to accept everything as true, one must only accept it as necessary.


3. Miss Smith’s form of cross-examination could have been named ‘the foreign country’ cross-examination. Everyone knows that if you can’t make yourself understood in a foreign country, you shout.3                                                     


In 2007, the General Medical Council (GMC) held a Fitness to Practice Hearing (FTP) to hear the cases of Professor Simon Murch, Dr Andrew Wakefield and Professor Walker-Smith, who had, the prosecution claimed, carried out experimental research on autistic children. Assembled in rented premises half way up a glass building on the Euston Road, the main artery west out of London, despite the hearing having been scheduled for three months, the hearing was to last on and off over the next three years.

          The GMC began preparing charges in the case in 2004, after Brian Deer, a Sunday Times consumer affairs reporter, who after being a staffer on the Sunday Times had become a free lance reporter, sent the GMC a long document apparently prepared by him,4 which followed, in more formal language, a tabloid style exposé he had written in Murdoch’s Sunday Times.5

          Deer’s action in presenting the massive complaint to the GMC, was supported by the then Minister of Health, whom Deer quoted in his article, and Tony Blair the then Prime Minister, who remarked in a television interview that followed the article ‘we now know the truth’.

          It seems probable that the document sent by Deer to the GMC, ‘the complaint’, was prepared with the help of Medico-Legal Investigations, a private enquiry agency solely owned by the Association of British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI),6 which for some years had been shepherding those disciplinary cases that affected the pharmaceutical industry,through the GMC. This case affected the pharmaceutical industry in as much as Dr Wakefield had reported worries about adverse reactions to the MMR vaccination.

          The charges, main headings and sub headings, around eighty in Wakefield’s case, covered a number of areas, such as the use of dangerous diagnostic procedures, ethics committee approval or lack of it, and a whole slew of charges unlikely to appear out of the ordinary to the Panel7 (the jury) of the hearing, and which created a miasma of sleaze around Wakefield. The charges were in the main a repetition of Deer’s unproven and unevidenced allegations. Although the authors had tried to fit evidential facts into categories of issues, a proven narrative which gave circumstances, logic and objectives for the defendants did not exist — except in that Dr Andrew Wakefield, the man who had questioned the safety of the MMR vaccine, was portrayed as a thoroughly wicked and unethical person.

          Two of the most apparently authoritative issues in Deer’s article were ‘conflict of interest’ and ‘legal aid funding’ for research; that is, Dr Wakefield’s undeclared conflict of interest in the 1998 Lancet case review paper, published after he had signed up as an expert witness in a claim by parents of vaccine damaged children against three pharmaceutical companies,8 and Legal Aid Board funding given to expert witnesses in Britain to pay for researching issues at the centre of criminal or civil actions.9 In order that the panel heard nothing about the real condition of the children adversely affected by MMR, only one parent claimant from the then failed civil action against the three pharmaceutical manufacturers of MMR, appeared at the FTP hearing.10

          The prosecution steered clear of adverse reaction to vaccines, by casting doubt over whether the children, cited in the 1998 case review paper, autistic or not, were actually ill. At the finish Professor Murch was found guilty of a number of charges which didn’t include dishonesty and was weakly admonished, Professor Walker-Smith by then retired was found guilty of the majority of the changes but not of dishonesty, while Dr Andrew Wakefield, portrayed by Brian Deer, the GMC and the pharmaceutical lobby groups as the devil incarnate, was found guilty on all charges and erased from the medical register. In February2012 Professor Walker-Smith was completely acquitted after a High Court Appeal11 while Dr Wakefield was disallowed funding for an appeal on the grounds that he had insufficient chance of winning.

          Following the end of the hearing Brian Deer moved relentlessly on with his accusations that he had been pushed to the centre of the case from the very beginning. In anumber of articles in the normally peer-reviewed British Medical Journal,12 that has close financial ties with Merck and GlaxoSmithKline, the two MMR manufacturers, Deer claimed that Wakefield had manipulated diagnostic test results to support the parents’ case that their children had developed Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) following their MMRvaccinations.13

          During the three years of the hearing, of which I attended every day bar one,14 I often asked myself whether or not Miss Smith, the senior prosecutor for the GMC, briefed by Field Fisher Waterhouse, a major firm of corporate lawyers, knew of the calumny that she breathed in at the GMC hearing room. This essay asks questions of Miss Smith, the Legal Advisor to the hearing and the GMC itself, which go to the heart of the GMC hearing, its sincerity and authenticity, questions the answers to which could well have reversed the outcome of the hearing in relation especially to Dr Wakefield.



Although this essay is about the uses and abuses of information in the GMC Murch, Walker-Smith and Wakefield Fitness to Practice Hearing by necessity, it is also about one lay campaigner’s search for information which could, in the face of the most serious obstruction, gain recognition and compensation for her vaccine damaged daughter.



END NOTES for this short piece

1. Pacino's character, the lawyer Arthur Kirkland, in ‘And Justice for All’, the title of the 1979 Norman Jewison film and also the last four words of the American pledge of allegiance: ‘I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.’

2. Franz Kafka, The Trial.

3. Martin Walker. Notes from the hearing 2008.

4. It seems highly unlikely that this document was actually prepared by Brian Deer. Whether it was or not, the GMC was constant in its deception that Deer had not launched or ‘put together’ the prosecution. They really had to say this because they couldn’t afford to call him as a witness. Allegations of Misconduct Submitted to the General Medical Council re: Unethical Research on Autistic Children Conducted by Andrew J. Wakefield, John Walker-Smith, and Simon Murch. 2004-02 -25.

5.‘Medicine needs its MI5’ Duncan Campbell. BMJ VOLUME 315:20-27 DECEMBER 1997(

6 The Complainant— Brian Deer, the ABPI, Medico-Legal Investigations, and Dr. Andrew Wakefield Martin J. Walker, MA, M.J. Walker/Medical Veritas 6 (2009) 2077–2092.

7 The Fitness to Practice Hearing has a jury called ‘the panel’, made up of lay people and professionals, all of whom are paid by the GMC, the foreperson of this panel is called the Chairman and is again a professional juror chosen by the GMC. In this case the Chairman Kumar held shares in GlaxoSmithKline, one of the MMR vaccine manufacturers.

8. See my essay A lot of Law but little Justice, February 2012.

9. To take the simplest of examples, the lawyer of a defendant charged with manslaughter after a motor vehicle offence, might employ (as might the prosecution) an expert in the mechanics of motor vehicles to ascertain from researching evidence, such as skid marks, exactly who was responsible for the crash that caused the death. Suchan expert would in the past (not so much today) have been paid for by the Legal Aid Board.

10. This parent, unfamiliar with legal cases, was convinced that she was attending the FTP hearing as a witness for the defendants.

11. See this authors previous essay Lots of law but little Justice published on the internet with a link to a PDF at:

12. Deer B. How the vaccine crisis was meant to make money. BMJ 2011; 342 doi: 10.1136/bmj.c5258. Deer B. Wakefield's "Autistic Enterocolitis" under the microscope. Brit Med J, 2010;340:c1127. B. How the case against the MMR vaccine was fixed. BMJ. 2011;342:c5347. against-mmr-vaccine-was-fixedDeer B. More secrets to the MMR scare. Feature: Pathology reports solve “new bowel disease” riddle. BMJ2011;343:d6823. articles were not peer reviewed see Jake Crosby’s Brian Deer’s BMJ Series Not Peer Reviewed Posted byAge of Autism at March 26, 2012 at 5:45 AM in Jake Crosby | Permalink | Comments (30)

13. In the absence of an appeal at which Wakefield could argue his case, and with the help of interested lawyers, he is presently taking an action for defamation against Brian Deer and Godlee, the editor of the BMJ.

14. As I have explained in other places, I began attending originally because I intended to write a book about the‘Wakefield Affair’, but ended up writing reports for the parents of vaccine damaged children who found it difficult to get to the hearing.

Acting on Information Received

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