| briandeer.com | FROM THE HIGH COURT IN LONDON



Meaning of a programme: what Channel 4 Dispatches revealed about "MMR doctor"

This page is material from the award-winning investigation by Brian Deer for The Sunday Times of London, the UK’s Channel 4 TV network and BMJ, the British Medical Journal, which exposed vaccine research fraudster Andrew Wakefield | Investigation summary

Following the broadcast of Brian Deer's Dispatches investigation, MMR - What they didn't tell you, in November 2004, Dr Andrew Wakefield, the programme's subject, issued a claim for libel. Although Wakefield's lawyers immediately attempted to stay, or freeze, the action, he was ordered in the High Court to proceed with it. But, on 2 January 2007, he abandoned his claim, and agreed to pay the defendants' costs. Below is how the parties explained to the court what the programme said about the anti-MMR campaigner


In his claim for libel, Andrew Wakefield submitted that Brian Deer's Channel 4 Dispatches investigation, "MMR - What they didn't tell you", broadcast on 18 November 2004, alleged that he, Wakefield: In their defence, pleading justification, Channel 4 Television Corporation, Twenty Twenty Productions Ltd and Brian Deer submitted that the Dispatches programme, in fact, alleged that Wakefield:

(i) Spread fear that the MMR vaccine might lead to autism, even though he knew that his own laboratory had carried out tests whose results dramatically contradicted his claims in that the measles virus had not been found in a single one of the children concerned in his study and he knew or ought to have known that there was absolutely no basis at all for his belief that the MMR should be broken up into single vaccines.

(i) Had dishonestly and irresponsibly spread fear that the MMR vaccine might cause autism in some children, even though he knew that his own laboratory's tests dramatically contradicted his claims and he knew or ought to have known that there was absolutely no scientific basis at all for his belief that MMR should be broken up into single vaccines.
(ii) In spreading such fear, acted dishonestly and for mercenary motives in that, although he improperly failed to disclose the fact, he planned a rival vaccine and products (such as a diagnostic kit based on his theory) that could have made his fortune. (ii) In spreading such fear, also acted dishonestly and irresponsibly, by repeatedly failing to disclose conflicts of interest and/or material information, including his association with contemplated litigation against the manufacturers of MMR and his application for a patent for a vaccine for measles which, if effective, and if the MMR vaccine had been undermined and/or withdrawn on safety grounds, would have been commercially very valuable.
(iii) Gravely abused the children under his care by unethically carrying out extensive invasive procedures (on occasions requiring three people to hold a child down), thereby driving nurses to leave and causing his medical colleagues serious concern and unhappiness. (iii) Caused medical colleagues serious unease by carrying out research tests on vulnerable children outside the terms or in breach of the permission given by an ethics committee, in particular by subjecting those children to highly invasive and sometimes distressing clinical procedures and thereby abusing them.
(iv) Improperly and/or dishonestly failed to disclose to his colleagues and to the public at large that his research on autistic children had begun with a contract with solicitors which were trying to sue the manufacturers of the MMR vaccine. (iv) Has been unremittingly evasive and dishonest in an effort to cover up his wrong-doing.
(v) Improperly and/or dishonestly lent his reputation to the International Child Development Resource Centre which promoted to very vulnerable parents expensive products for whose efficacy (as he knew or should have known) there was no scientific evidence”. (v) Has improperly lent his reputation to the International Child Development Resource Centre which exploited very vulnerable parents by promoting to them expensive products the efficacy of which (as he knew or should have known) had no scientific basis.
These meanings, alleged by the claimaint, are reported by Eady J in a judgment handed down on 4 November 2005 These meanings, admitted by the defendants, are reported by Eady J in a judgment handed down on 21 December 2006


Go to the MMR investigation summary