“Apparent ‘cherry-picking’ of the evidence”
LEWIS: “To support their new fraud theory, Godlee, Deer, and the BMJ's lawyers engaged in the most reprehensible conduct I have ever witnessed involving any scientific journal. To paint a dark picture of institutional fraud at UCL, it is my opinion that they used the same tactics of which they accused Dr. Wakefield, and now UCL at large.”
DEER: There was no “new fraud theory”. Otherwise this paragraph appears emptily argumentative. If this is the “most reprehensible” conduct Lewis has ever witnessed “involving any scientific journal”, he must have had a sheltered career prior to his retirement. The allegation of “institutional fraud” is nowhere to be found in the BMJ.
LEWIS: “To begin with, they cherry-picked a treasure trove of hitherto unpublished evidence from Wakefield's files, selecting the only set of documents they could possibly use to support their new fraud theory.”
DEER: Nothing was “cherry picked”. It took me, “with no formal training in medicine or science” approximately six minutes to realise that Dr Dhillon’s grading sheets reported overwhelmingly normal findings. I urged Dr Godlee to test my judgment by putting the documents out to peer review. This she did. All reviewers confirmed my impression.
Dr Dhillon’s sheets were raw data from his observations of biopsies which Wakefield claimed evidenced a “new inflammatory bowel disease”, and were hence of significant interest. This was the material which the GMC panel had been told was grounds for changing gut diagnoses from healthy to diseased. It was missing material from a consultant histopathologist. Nothing else from Lewis had anything remotely like the significance of this data.
LEWIS: “This was A.P. Dhillon's grading sheets, in which I asked Dr. Wakefield to add the corresponding numbers used to identify the 12 Lancet children. It is evident from these grading sheets, which the BMJ uploaded on its website, that nowhere on them did Prof. Dhillon actually write out the word ‘colitis.’ He did, however, include a box labeled ‘UC’ to indicate a diagnosis of ulcerative colitis.”
DEER: Lewis’s complaint to the BMJ critically included his judgment that the words “non-specific” on the forms meant “non-specific colitis”, and that when Dr Dhillon ticked this, he was diagnosing bowel disease. Lewis has since abandoned this claim, not least, I suppose, because Dr Dhillon has denied it. Rather than apologise for his timewasting error, however, Lewis now changes tack and argues that there was a “box labelled ‘UC’ to indicate a diagnosis of ulcerative colitis.”
Lewis fails to state that Dr Dhillon did not tick any box labelled “UC”.
LEWIS: “Godlee's own expert, Ingvar Bjarnason, a gastroenterologist at King's College Hospital, London, however, told Nature that he believes Dhillon's grading sheets ‘don't clearly support charges that Wakefield deliberately misinterpreted the records." "The data are subjective,’ he says, ‘It's different to say it's deliberate falsification.’”
DEER: Since nobody said that Wakefield “deliberately misinterpreted” the histopathology, Professor Bjarnason’s alleged remarks go nowhere. The reporter, briefed by Lewis, asked him a silly question and wrote down his answer. There’s no “however” involved, as per Lewis’s irrational non sequitur.
LEWIS: “To address my Rapid Response, Godlee devoted an editorial, two commentaries, and a feature article by Brian Deer arguing that what little evidence remains of biopsy slides that no longer exist does not support a diagnosis of colitis.”
DEER: The material published wasn’t “devoted” to the rapid response. The material analysed the raw data in Dr Dhillon’s grading sheets. The aim wasn’t to address Lewis’s opinions, which were irrelevant. He plainly couldn’t, or wouldn’t, understand the data he’d supplied to us. Were it not for his malevolent stance towards me, I would have discussed the grading sheets with him, and helped him to understand them. He plainly hadn’t taken expert advice, as I’d done. Possibly he has access to none. We’d important new information to illuminate the origins of the vaccine scare, and, in the public interest, we published it.
LEWIS: “But that's not the issue.”
DEER: That’s precisely the issue. Do the data give credible grounds to claim a new bowel disease, or to report “colitis”, as Wakefield did when he launched the vaccine scare? The answer we published from five professors in the relevant specialties, who had never previously seen the data, was “no”. Subsequent to publication, when we put the sheets online, we’ve received not one complaint from any pathologist or gastroenterologist, or alternative interpretation to the one that took me less than six minutes to suspect was the position. Lewis himself doesn’t here challenge what I say in my November 2011 piece, or the expert assessments which accompanied it.
LEWIS: “The issue I raised in my Rapid Response, to which all of this effort was directed at overcoming, is whether Dr. Wakefield deliberately misinterpreted the grading sheets as Brian Deer claimed in his article entitled ‘Wakefield’s 'autistic enterocolitis' under a microscope.’”
DEER: This paragraph repeats previous arguments.
LEWIS: “What if there was no deception at UCL involving Wakefield's research and any potential conflicts of interests its administrators and scientists may have had?”
DEER: A fitness to practise panel of the GMC, constituted under the Medical Act 1983 and comprising three doctors and two lay members, said there was deception by Wakefield at (what is now part of) UCL. The panel made findings (against a criminal standard of sureness) including of four counts of dishonesty over the research. Against that background, Lewis’s “what if?” speculation is of no interest.
LEWIS: “Could the BMJ 's conflicts of interest with manufacturers of the MMR vaccine have led to deceptions by the BMJ's editors and Brian Deer? Based on what transpired between BMJ's editors, Brian Deer, the NWC and me, I can now answer the last question. There is no doubt that BMJ's editors and Brian Deer appear to be deeply involved in creating an elaborate deception.”
DEER: Lewis has adduced no evidence upon which any rational person could base such a disgusting allegation.
“Godlee's and Deer's apparent deception”
LEWIS: “The documents I submitted to the BMJ, which Godlee chose not to publish, clearly demonstrate that neither Andrew Wakefield nor any of his coauthors "faked" the diagnosis of colitis.”
LEWIS: “For example, Godlee did not publish, or even mention, photomicrographs of the missing biopsy slides for 11 of the 12 children, which I provided to BMJ's editors.”
DEER: The editor of a journal can publish or not publish illustrations at their own discretion. In this case, neither Dr Godlee nor I could be sure of what we were looking at.
Nine micrographs were supplied by Lewis – a number contrasting with more than 60 slides reported on the grading sheets. These nine were handled, supplied, labelled and described by Wakefield, who has four GMC convictions for research dishonesty. Additionally, he published a falsely-described gastrointestinal image in a (now-retracted) 2000 paper in the American Journal of Gastroenterology. As further evidenced by the retraction of the Lancet paper, Wakefield can’t be relied upon to submit accurate material.
To evidence this credibility gap yet further: of the Dhillon grading sheets for 11 children supplied to us by Lewis, Wakefield managed to append incorrect labels in the cases of three patients. Child 3’s ileal sample was reported by Wakefield to be from the patient’s duodenum. Child 4’s sigmoid colon sample was reported by Wakefield to be from the patient’s rectum. And the ascending colon sample from child 12 was reported by Wakefield to be from a different patient altogether. Despite his training in science, Lewis evidently failed to notice.
I don’t believe that any editor of any credible journal would publish micrographs supplied by Wakefield, or any other material from him reliant upon assumptions of his basic integrity and competence.
LEWIS: “In Deer's article, "Wakefield’s 'autistic enterocolitis' under a microscope," he referred to the missing biopsy slides as the ‘ultimate proof’ of whether Wakefield faked the diagnoses in Table 1 of the Lancet article.”
DEER: No I didn’t. The slides would be the ultimate proof of what was on the slides.
LEWIS: “The photomicrographs of the missing slides, which were taken by Dhillon and Anthony, clearly illustrate all of the architectural structures described in Table 1.”
DEER: No they don’t. And that assumes the micrographs are what Lewis says they are, for which we have no reliable evidence.
LEWIS: “All that remains in question is whether Wakefield took it upon himself to intentionally misinterpret this information to mean ‘colitis.’”
LEWIS: “Nowhere is that question settled more clearly than in Anthony's Power Point presentation, which I provided to BMJ's editors.”
DEER: The PowerPoint presentation is merely described as relating to a “series of slides circa 1998”. A PowerPoint from a third party couldn’t determine Wakefield’s intent. As indicated, Anthony wasn’t a qualified pathologist.
In his presentation of the PowerPoint material, Lewis says: “One patient's name, which appeared on two slides, was converted to initials [AG] by David Lewis.” None of the 12 patients in the Lancet study have the initials AG.
Of eight patients identified by their initials in the PowerPoint, six weren’t included in the Lancet paper, further illustrating that Lewis can’t be relied upon to get things right.
Thus, contrary to Lewis, no such question is settled by any PowerPoint, nor could it be.
LEWIS: “In this well-illustrated presentation, which Godlee chose not to publish…”
DEER: I don’t think medical journals generally publish PowerPoint presentations, perhaps especially when they relate to the wrong patients, and were submitted and misinterpreted by an individual who didn’t create them.
LEWIS: “… Anthony carefully explains the basis he used to interpret the architectural features described in Table 1 of the Lancet article as colitis. Obviously, not all experts would agree with his interpretations. But still, they leave no doubt that Dr. Wakefield did not make up the diagnosis of colitis as Deer alleged when he put "Wakefield’s autistic enterocolitis" under a reporter's microscope.”
DEER: As indicated, Anthony discusses a different group of patients. Examination of the PowerPoint slides, moreover, shows that they don’t present data, but are campaigning materials for Anthony’s work in litigation. For example, on the first slide referring to “routine pathology”:
“Important because difficult to promote and defend notion of a mild form of gut inflammation in autistic children if these were reported as normal here”
Far from exonerating Wakefield, such an observation might be seen as incriminating, as it suggests the researchers wanted to find a way around the normal results from the hospital pathology service.
LEWIS: “Finally, I provided the BMJ with the GMC's copies of Anthony's grading sheets, almost all of which were created in September 1998, seven months after the Lancet article was published. Several sheets were dated in October 2001.”
DEER: The provenance of the Anthony sheets isn’t established. In addition to Anthony’s junior doctor and trainee status, Lewis doesn’t seem to grasp that data generated after publication can’t be the data upon which the 1998 publication was based. This seems elementary. He may also not realise that, such is the nature of histological interpretation, a pathologist may report different observations from the same samples on separate occasions. They may also report different findings according to their motives.
We’re aware that, after Dr Dhillon’s normal grading sheet findings, the grading sheet used for Wakefield’s legal project was redesigned so as to permit Dr Anthony to report normal bowel features (lymphoid follicles) as pathology.
LEWIS: “Throughout his grading sheets, Anthony noted the various architectural features discussed in his power point presentation. In his marginal notes, he scribbled "colitis" for at least six of the eleven children. In her editorial, Godlee stated: "Anthony concluded that some of the children had “mild” or in one case “active” chronic colitis." But, because Anthony's grading sheets were dated after the Lancet paper was published, she deemed them to be irrelevant and did not send them out for external review.”
DEER: This was one reason why they weren’t reviewed. Another was that, as indicated, Anthony was a trainee. Most importantly, Wakefield’s repeated position has been that it was Dr Dhillon’s assessments which were the basis for the Lancet paper’s “histological findings”. This is notwithstanding that the paper identifies four doctors, including himself, as having “assessed” the biopsies. Only two were consultant histopathologists: Dr Dhillon and Dr Susan Davies of the hospital pathology service.
LEWIS: “I also gave the BMJ copies of Prof. Dhillon's and Dr. Anthony's affidavits, which confirm that they reviewed the Lancet article before it was published.”
DEER: Only extracts from the statements were supplied to us. Large sections were missing. Dr Dhillon states that he can’t remember a draft of the paper, says he “did not write the histology section of the paper” and argues that others may have contributed findings to that section. Anthony states: “I can however confirm that as far as I recall I did not write, or have anything to do with the drafting of the table of Endoscopic and Histological findings which appears in the Lancet paper.”
Both I and the GMC established that the final Lancet paper was significantly different to the drafts, and that Wakefield alone was responsible for the final text.
LEWIS: “The children's biopsy slides and Anthony's grading sheets, which Dr. Wakefield used when he created Table 1 of the Lancet article, are perhaps the single most important pieces of evidence related to Brian Deer's allegations.”
DEER: With reference to the trainee Anthony, this isn’t Wakefield’s position. His position was set out, for instance, in a 58-page complaint he lodged with the Press Complaints Commission against The Sunday Times in March 2009 (but which, despite my encouragement to the PCC to hear the complaint, he didn’t pursue):
“Dr. Dhillon’s diagnosis formed the basis for what was reported in the Lancet; long antedating Mr. Deer’s allegations. This process has in fact been described in the relevant medical literature (see below) and it was also presented in evidence by me in Mr. Deer’s presence to the GMC hearing (see below).”
I believe that a similar account occurs in a book Wakefield published.
LEWIS: “The slides, however, disappeared from Dhillon's laboratory after the Lancet article was published; and the most relevant portion of Anthony's grading sheets disappeared as well. None of this evidence was available to the GMC during its deliberations.”
DEER: This paragraph appears to be Lewis’s suppositions, or claims made to him by Wakefield. Lewis could have no direct knowledge of these matters.
LEWIS: “Fortunately, Dr. Wakefield's personal files contained photomicrographs of all but one of the children's biopsy slides, Anthony's Power point presentation, and grading sheets that Anthony completed shortly after the Lancet article was published. These documents were available to the GMC through discovery.”
LEWIS: “They make it abundantly clear that Anthony - not Wakefield - took the lead in interpreting architectural features in the biopsy slides as evidence that most of the Lancet children's biopsies exhibited signs of colitis.”
DEER: As indicated, this isn’t the position Wakefield advanced (under oath) at the GMC, nor in his complaint to the PCC, nor in his book. Nor do any of these materials make the truth of Lewis’s claims “abundantly clear”.
In a recent letter from me in the BMJ, I put forward the question of whether “autistic enterocolitis” and the paper claiming the discovery of a putative new inflammatory bowel disease, which helped trigger a global health alarm, could rest its “histological findings” on the judgment of one junior doctor. Dr Anthony, now a consultant at another hospital, hasn’t responded.
LEWIS: “Collectively, the documents described above establish beyond any reasonable doubt that the initial fraud theory that the BMJ published in 2010 is untrue.”
DEER: As indicated, the BMJ didn’t publish a “fraud theory” in 2010.
LEWIS: “Namely, Dr. Wakefield did not intentionally misinterpret the grading sheets provided by Prof. Dhillon and Dr. Anthony in order to fabricate the diagnosis of colitis reported in the Lancet study. This evidence compelled the BMJ to abandon its initial theory; but its editors made no admissions and gave no apologies. Instead, they cherry-picked Dhillon's grading sheets to support a new fraud theory in which UCL administrators and all of the Lancet authors allegedly conspired to falsely diagnose colitis in children with autism to profit from an MMR vaccine scare.”
“Apparent suppression of evidence”
LEWIS: “Dr. Godlee gained my cooperation last September after rejecting a commentary in which I addressed all of the relevant evidence and discussed how it applied to the wide range of allegations of research fraud leveled against Dr. Wakefield by Brian Deer and the BMJ.”
DEER: Lewis didn’t address “all of the relevant evidence”, which would require a much larger document even than his complaint.
LEWIS: “The commentary, for example, addressed the issues of consecutive referral of the Lancet children, a grant from attorney Richard Barr, and UCL's patent application related to Wakefield's research.”
DEER: Lewis merely rehashed aspects of Wakefield’s claims, which were considered by the GMC panel during its 217 days of evidence, submissions and deliberations. Much of the material was trivially false, and I don’t believe Lewis has any special status to expect medical journals to publish his opinions.
LEWIS: “In its place, she offered to publish a Rapid Response to Deer's article titled "Wakefield’s 'autistic enterocolitis' under a microscope," and attach a revised commentary, photomicrographs of the missing slides, and the pathologists' grading sheets.”
DEER: What is described appears to be routine editorial discussion.
LEWIS: “After obtaining my documents, BMJ's editors had them externally peer reviewed, and provided copies to Brian Deer.”
DEER: Although Lewis claims at his website that his letter was “peer reviewed”, the reviewers rejected Lewis’s assertions as absurd. One reviewer asked it Lewis was “mad”. I was delighted to receive copies of what were described by Wakefield and Lewis as Dr Dhillon’s sheets, although some turned out not to be.
LEWIS: “Based on the peer-reviews, which BMJ's editors would not provide to me, they rewrote my Rapid Response and dropped my attachments.”
DEER: As I understand it, amendments to contributions are commonplace, and they were agreed by Lewis.
LEWIS: “In our original agreement, Godlee agreed to publish my peer-reviewed letter as a Rapid Response to Deer's article titled "Wakefield’s 'autistic enterocolitis' under a microscope." But, after removing my comments concerning this article, she published my letter as a Rapid Response to a different article Deer wrote a year later entitled "How the case against the MMR vaccine was fixed."
DEER: This appears to be conventional editorial processing. I get the impression that Lewis imagines he has some special right not only to access the BMJ’s editorial pages, but also to determine which pages.
LEWIS: “This change, which I never approved or was even informed about, completely diverted readers away from Deer's 2010 article where he alleged that Wakefield made up the diagnosis of colitis in most of the Lancet children by misinterpreting the pathologists' grading sheets. Addressing Deer's error in this article was the crux of what my Rapid Response was all about.”
DEER: I can only comment that, in this case, perhaps Lewis might have been more diligent in reading the feature he purported to critique.
LEWIS: “In short, the BMJ removed any evidence I supplied that could undermine the reiteration of their previous allegations of research fraud against Dr. Wakefield, or the presentation of their new fraud theory of institutional research misconduct. In the end, my Rapid Response was so devoid of substance that the BMJ did not even link to it as related content in its editorial, feature article and commentaries published to address it.”
DEER: I understand it to be a matter of law that libellous allegations may not be published in the UK with impunity. Lewis’s allegation - that my 2010 feature falsely accused Wakefield of fraud over histopathology - is untrue and defamatory. Lewis agreed the text of his rapid response as published. If it was “devoid of substance”, the reason is that his allegations had no basis in fact.
LEWIS: “One of the documents I found in Dr. Wakefield's files…”
DEER: Given the scale of the Wakefield affair, and the tens of thousands of pages of documentation involved, it’s unlikely that Lewis merely “found” this document, unless he took up residence at Wakefield’s home (which, I suppose, is possible).
LEWIS: “…was a 2006 report by the GMC's expert pediatric gastroenterologist, Prof. Ian Booth. Booth compared routine pathology reports from the Royal Free Hospital with Table 1 of the Lancet article, which summarized Prof. Dhillon's and Dr. Anthony's blinded independent analysis of the children's colonic biopsy slides. Based on mismatches between the two sets of records, Booth concluded that research fraud could not be ruled out.”
DEER: I’ve only seen an extract provided by Lewis from what I believe was one of several statements prepared by Booth for the GMC. This was posted by Lewis on his website page, last May or before, as purported evidence for an abusive attack on me. After the apparent intervention of Mr Kohn, it has been taken down.
LEWIS: “Booth did conclude that research fraud could not be ruled out.”
LEWIS: “Booth offered no explanation in his report as to why he used routine pathology reports, rather than Prof. Dhillon's and Dr. Anthony's grading sheets, to check the accuracy of Table 1.”
DEER: I can’t speak for Booth, with whom I’ve never had contact. However, I’d surmise that Booth’s use of the hospital’s pathology service reports wasn’t for the purpose assumed by Lewis. It appears that Lewis, notwithstanding his collaboration with Wakefield, has a poor grasp of the GMC case.
Booth’s central task for the GMC was to give expert opinion on the justification for ileocolonoscopies which Wakefield and the then-professor of paediatric gastroenterology, John Walker-Smith, caused autistic children to undergo. Therefore, he looked at the children’s records, which included the reports of the hospital pathology service. Such reports are of exceptional clinical and legal status. They are printed, signed by two pathologists, and reviewed at weekly clinicopathological meetings. They aren’t like the tatty, sometimes unsigned and undated, scribbled sheets of Dr Dhillon and the trainee. It appears that Lewis may not be conversant with procedures for the reporting of histopathology in hospital settings.
In the course of Booth’s review, he evidently noticed that the histology reported by the hospital’s pathologists was different to what was published in the Lancet – apparently a clinical case series. Indeed, sitting in the GMC hearing where the reports were repeatedly read aloud by counsel, I noticed this myself – and, of course, I’ve no formal training in science or medicine.
LEWIS: “But, in an email to me…”
DEER: Indicative of Lewis’s character and reminiscent of controversy at the EPA, he wrote to Booth in a misleading manner. Rather than making clear who he was and the purpose of his approach, Lewis wrote using an email address of the University of Georgia, and merely characterised himself as “Director, Research Misconduct Project”, as if he were an academic at a unit of the university. The text of his email was also deceptive.
LEWIS: “… he explained that the GMC's solicitors specifically requested that he perform this analysis, and that it was used to prepare the GMC's case against Wakefield and two of his coauthors. The GMC's solicitors never introduced Booth's report into evidence during the GMC's hearings.”
DEER: Booth’s reports were supplied to all parties in the case, and he was examined and cross-examined on his evidence therein over the course of eight days. Repeat, eight days. I was present throughout.
LEWIS: “Several weeks before the GMC issued its findings, Deer published his article in the BMJ using the same analysis…”
DEER: I didn’t use “the same analysis”. I used material gathered, in a wholly conventional reporting manner, during the GMC proceedings. I would need to have been asleep not to spot that where the Lancet reported “colitis” and claimed a “unique disease process”, the hospital’s pathologists had reported healthy biopsies. However, I understand from Lewis’s website tirades against me, and from comments passed to me by a Nature reporter, that he fantasises that I was working in cahoots with Booth, or that both of us were being controlled by some undisclosed third party.
LEWIS: “… to accuse Dr. Wakefield of faking most of the Lancet children's diagnoses.”
DEER: This would, again, be a reference to my 2010 feature, where no such accusation was made.
LEWIS: “In an editorial accompanying one of Deer's multiple articles on the subject, Dr. Godlee and two other editors declared Dr. Wakefield's research to be fraudulent.”
DEER: This would be some nine months later. The article upon which Dr Godlee comments was my long feature “How the case against the MMR vaccine was fixed”, published when Lewis was in Montego Bay. This article includes scant mention of histopathology, makes no suggestion of fraud with regard to histopathology, and includes no suggestion that Wakefield was responsible for the sole change in GI diagnosis which I report (and attribute to Walker-Smith).
LEWIS: “In these writings, BMJ's editors and Deer use the GMC hearings as a backdrop for their allegations of research fraud.”
DEER: The GMC case was not a “backdrop”. For a journalist, it was an extraordinary investigative tool, with the GMC empowered to seize and lay out in public medical records and other material (for example the hospital pathology reports), which would otherwise never have seen the light of day. It was also a statutory tribunal empowered by parliament and the courts to rule on allegations of serious professional misconduct by medical practitioners.
LEWIS: “Booth's expert report and his email to me, however, show that the GMC's solicitors carefully considered Booth's analysis, which was later used by Deer.”
DEER: Booth’s analysis wasn’t “later used by Deer”.
LEWIS: “They stopped short of introducing it as evidence, or charging Wakefield and his coauthors with faking the diagnosis of colitis.”
DEER: I believe that the charges in the GMC case were finalised and served prior to Booth’s supplementary report. Booth’s supplementary was dated 8 November 2006. The GMC public inquiry began on 16 July 2007, with an indictment running to something like 80 pages. Had more charges been added, the case might have run for many more months, at greater cost, or failed entirely under the weight of the indictment. As it was, research dishonesty was proven, and it seems unlikely that any public purpose would have been served by proving it again. Wakefield could only be erased once, and he was.
LEWIS: “When Deer discovered Booth's document posted on my NWC website in the Spring of 2011, he demanded that NWC director Stephen Kohn remove my documents.”
DEER: I wrote to Kohn regarding the gross abuse and libels posted by Lewis. I gratefully downloaded the extract from Booth’s report, which I’d never seen before. Evidently, a professor of paediatric gastroenterology had noticed the same anomalies as I’d spotted.
LEWIS: “Deer claimed he never communicated with Booth, and was unaware of Booth's GMC report prior to seeing portions of it on my website.”
LEWIS: “Deer's claim of ignorance, however, has no bearing on whether the GMC's solicitors were instrumental in getting Deer and the BMJ to use the same analysis they crafted for Booth.”
DEER: It would have been Booth who “crafted” his analysis for the solicitors, not, as Lewis states in his complaint, the other way round. This would be because Booth is a paediatric gastroenterologist and the solicitors are, well, solicitors. The GMC’s lawyers, or indeed anyone connected with the GMC, had no involvement in preparing, or prior knowledge of, any of my reports.
LEWIS: “Deer refused to explain to the NWC how he came up with the idea of investigating mismatches between the Royal Free Hospital's routine pathology reports and the Lancet article.”
DEER: I’ve never refused to explain this. I received a creepy, anonymous email from his “NWC”, asked the sender to identify themselves and offered to phone them. They didn’t reply.
I “came up with the idea” because I was sitting in the GMC hearing room for many months. Leading counsel for all four of the parties read the pathology service reports aloud, perhaps four or five times for each of the patients’ cases considered. If Lewis had read the transcript, he’d know this. I’d also, of course, read the Lancet paper.
LEWIS: “Deer's use of Booth's analysis, whether knowingly or unknowingly, and the manner in which BMJ's editors rewrote my Rapid Response, raise questions as to who may have actually written Brian Deer's articles published in the BMJ.”
DEER: This should be handwritten in green ink and cc’d not merely to UCL, UKRIO and HEFCE, but also to David Cameron and the Archbishop of Canterbury.
LEWIS: “The scientific and medical content of his articles are well beyond what any individual with no formal training in science or medicine would normally be able to write.”
DEER: I’m deeply indebted to David Lewis for his kind words regarding the quality of my journalism. It reassures me that perhaps, among all the tribulations of the last eight years, my labours in the public interest have not entirely been in vain.
LEWIS: “To prevent me from uploading my evidence on my NWC website, Deer sent misinformation concerning my professional credentials and association with Andrew Wakefield to the NWC, and included false allegations of ethical misconduct against me.”
DEER: As indicated, I made a complaint following my discovery last June of Lewis’s tirades against me – essentially accusing me of being part of a conspiracy to persecute Wakefield on behalf of the drug industry, government agencies and perhaps other shadowy powers. I did nothing to “prevent” him from doing anything. If Stephen Kohn wishes to publish grievous libels on his website, I can advise and act, but I can’t prevent. My guess is that Mr Kohn wants to act properly and to protect the reputation of his firm and ancillary entity. It seems that may even want to be fair.
LEWIS: “Dr. Godlee allowed this behavior to go unchecked even after learning that Deer's allegations were apparently completely false.”
DEER: How I choose to defend my reputation and integrity isn’t subject to Dr Godlee’s approval, and anybody with common sense would know that. My allegations weren’t “completely false”.
LEWIS: “She even participated in Deer's deceptions regarding my relevant professional credentials.”
DEER: This is uncertain as to its meaning.
LEWIS: “Without even asking me for a copy of my curriculum vitae, Deer suggested to the NWC that I have no relevant credentials with respect to the Lancet article in question.”
DEER: Lewis isn’t a gastroenterologist, nor a GI pathologist, which would be the only credentials relevant to the expert assessment of gut histopathology. Nor is he a medical doctor, nor even a clinical microbiologist. I find it hard to believe that any court would, in full knowledge, accept him as an expert in this highly specialist field. If he has been receiving payments to opine on human gut histopathology, I think he should give the money back.
Both Lewis’s failure to realise that Dr Dhillon’s grading sheets noted largely normal findings, and his inept claim that Dr Dhillon reported non-specific colitis, evidence Lewis’s lack of expertise in GI histopathology. These errors were at the heart of the complaints he demanded be published in the BMJ, but he has since dropped these embarrassments altogether.
LEWIS: “Then, when rewriting my Rapid Response, BMJ's editors inserted the following statement: "I am not qualified in medicine or histopathology", which simply highlighted and amplified Deer's misrepresentations of my professional credentials.”
DEER: That suggested statement, although accurate, wasn’t published.
LEWIS: “When I referred Dr. Godlee to my extensive credentials listed in my revised commentary she replaced the false statement...”
DEER: To say that Lewis isn’t qualified in medicine or histopathology isn’t a false statement.