MMR CONTROVERSY DROPS
CHANNEL 4 LIBEL ACTION
Guardian (London) January 6 2007
Dyer, legal editor
The doctor who
sparked the controversy over the safety of the MMR
vaccine has dropped a two-year libel action against
Channel 4, a fortnight after a high court judge
ordered the disclosure of confidential documents to
Wakefield sued Channel 4, 20-20 Productions, and
reporter Brian Deer over a November 2004 Dispatches
programme MMR: What They Didn't Tell You.
estimate that the Medical Protection Society, the
doctors' defence body which funded the libel claim,
faces a legal bill of more than £500,000 for its own
and the other side's costs of the case, which was due
to go to trial next October.
a gastroenterologist, ignited a huge scare over the
triple vaccine when, at a press conference in 1998 to
publicise his research on links between the measles
virus, autism and bowel disease, he called for the
combined vaccine to be replaced by single vaccines.
discovered that some of the children who took part in
the research were also the subject of another study
funded by legal aid to find out whether they had a
possible compensation claim against the vaccine
manufacturers. Dr Wakefield failed to disclose to the
Lancet the £55,000 he received from legal aid for
that study. Dr Wakefield denied a conflict of
interest at the time and said the money had gone to
his hospital, the Royal Free in north London, not to
last month that Dr Wakefield also received hundreds
of thousands of pounds in legal aid fees for his work
as an expert witness on the compensation case, which
was abandoned. He said in a statement that the work
had been done over nine years and had been used to
set up a centre for treating autistic children in the
US, where he now works.
The film also
alleged that he knew of results from his own lab that
contradicted his theory about the link between autism
and the MMR vaccine.
is facing a disciplinary hearing before the General
Medical Council, due to start in July. Last month Mr
Justice Eady ordered that documents supplied to the
GMC and the body which administers legal aid, should
be disclosed to Channel 4 for the hearing.
the Medical Protection Society's solicitors, said:
"The GMC hearing is scheduled to start on 9 July
2007 and run until October 2007. The libel trial was
expected to start after this. Consecutive hearings
would have compromised Dr Wakefield's preparation for
both hearings and would have placed an intolerable
burden on him.
remains confident that he will be vindicated. "
Sutcliffe, editor of Dispatches, said: "Dr
Wakefield's decision to discontinue the libel
proceedings is a complete vindication for both the
Dispatches' investigation and Brian Deer's dogged
DOCTOR DROPS LIBEL ACTION
Times (London) January 6 2007
Wakefield, who sparked the controversy over the
safety of the MMR vaccine, has dropped a two-year
libel action against Channel 4 two weeks after a High
Court judge ordered the disclosure of confidential
documents. The gastroenterologist caused a scare over
the triple vaccine when he publicised research on
links between the measles virus, autism and bowel
disease. He called for single vaccines to replace the
MMR vaccine, which led to a drop in its uptake.
Solicitors for the Medical Protection Society, which
funded his libel claim, said that preparing for the
case and a forthcoming GMC hearing would have placed
an intolerable burden on him.
CRITIC DROPS LAWSUIT
Sunday Times (London) January 7 2007
Wakefield, the former surgeon campaigning to link the
MMR vaccine with autism, has dropped a libel action
against Channel 4. The Medical Protection Society,
which funded the suit, could face a legal bill of
more than £500,000 for the costs of Channel 4, 20-20
Productions and Sunday Times reporter Brian Deer, the
makers of MMR: What They Didnt Tell You.