18. BMJ Editor Declares Wakefield Guilty of “Elaborate Fraud” Without Evidence

  1. BMJ editor-in-chief, Dr. Godlee amplified GMC charges declared Dr. Wakefield guilty of “elaborate fraud” and “falsification” 

In January 2011, the BMJ editor-in-chief went far beyond the GMC charges when she escalated the propaganda campaign against Dr. Wakefield, issuing a BMJ editorial pronouncement:

Wakefield’s article linking MMR vaccine and autism was fraudulent: Clear evidence of falsification of data should now close the door on this damaging vaccine scare…the paper was in fact an elaborate fraud.”

Dr. Godlee cited no evidence of “elaborate fraud” or any instance of “falsification of records”. Nevertheless, her unsubstantiated, categorical verdict delivered a mortal blow – the coup de grâce – to Dr. Wakefield’s reputation; her pronouncement reverberated around the globe. Even journalists who are hostile to Dr. Wakefield, have observed that Deer’s BMJ series (2011) essentially recycled his Sunday Times articles[150] published in 2009146 and 2010.[151] The BMJ resorted to the promotional hype techniques of tabloid journalism, claiming that the articles provide “new evidence.

In the first of the BMJ commissioned series[152] by Deer – How the Case Against the MMR Vaccine was Fixed8 – he took pride in his accomplishment:

“My investigation of the MMR issue exposed the frauds behind Wakefield’s research. Triggering the longest ever UK General Medical Council fitness to practise hearing and forcing the Lancet to retract the paper… it led to Dr. Wakefield and Walker-Smith being struck off the medical register.”

This article was appended with a deceptive, false BMJ editorial declaration: “externally peer reviewed.” In sworn deposition 7 [excerpted below] BMJ deputy editor acknowledged that the declaration was not true; Deer’s article had not actually undergone peer review. The declaration was a deceptive ploy, made, no doubt, to provide the mantle of academic legitimacy to Deer’s charge of fraud – in his GMC complaint, in the Sunday Times, and the BMJ – relied on the inconsistency between the Lancet diagnoses of the children and early GP records that, at the time of the study, were not available neither to Dr. Wakefield, nor any of the clinicians and researchers on the team. How, then could Dr. Wakefield have falsified those records or the information contained in those records?

Furthermore, these rudimentary GP records were dismissed by the High Court as irrelevant — “of no significance” – because they are merely one set of records that are (understandably) less detailed and less reliable than subsequent expert medical evaluations of the 12 Lancet children’s condition and diagnoses were based on. Deer used these irrelevant early GP records to dispute that the children had an inflammatory bowel disease and a regressive form of autism. All of these early clinicians’ impressions lacked both the expertise of the specialists and the knowledge gained from specialized diagnostic tests which enabled these medical specialists to detect previously unsuspected, underlying bowel disease in the children.

It is not surprising that GPs and consultants interpreted the children’s symptoms differently; therefore, the medical records were not identical. However, clinical disagreement, or lack of detail in a GP record, does not constitute fraud. It is astounding and disingenuous for Dr. Godlee to have (apparently) accepted Deer’s premise, giving more weight to GP records, than to the evaluation of expert medical specialists.

“Deer shows how Wakefield altered numerous facts about the patients’ medical histories… Deer unearthed clear evidence of falsification. He found that not one of the 12 cases recorded in the 1998 Lancet Paper was free of misrepresentation or undisclosed alteration, and that in no single case could the medical records be fully reconciled with the descriptions, diagnoses or histories published in the journal.

Brian Deer explains what the latest revelations add to our knowledge of the Wakefield saga
Deer compared these with what was published in the Lancet. He found that their data had been substantially misrepresented in order to give the result Wakefield needed.