- The GMC panel found no evidence to support Deer’s allegation of “scientific fraud”
The most serious allegation that Deer made in his complaint to the GMC in 2004, was “scientific fraud.”31 The definition of fraud:
“Fraud can be fabrication, falsification, and plagiarism of data or even deception in conduct. Fabricating data involves creating a new record of data or results. Falsifying data means altering the existing records. It is the deliberate distortion or omission of undesired data or results.”
To substantiate scientific fraud the accuser must show that the original findings were altered or changed to advance a particular interest or theory that the original findings do not support. The GMC prosecutor attempted to pursue Deer’s allegation of “research fraud” against Dr. Wakefield, by suggesting that the provisional diagnosis and a review of the histopathology slides of the children’s gut biopsies by Dr. Murch and Dr. Davies differed from the subsequent description in Table 1 of the Lancet. The GMC prosecutor had to abandon the allegation of fraud when it became apparent during testimonies, including the histopathologist, Dr. Susan Davies, who had at first questioned the diagnosis. Deer’s allegation of fraud against Dr. Wakefield, hinged on his acting like a lone wolf. The credible testimonies totally refuted the allegation.
Dr. Davies provided a description of the systematic, weekly reviews by the entire team of clinicians and histopathologists; each of who examined in great detail, the clinical aspects, the pathology slides and continually amended reports about each individual child. She stated:
“you did not have only one person reporting, and so everybody took it in turn to report on anything that came in from whatever source… the weekly meetings were a vital part of the care of each child. These were working meetings where all information was collated in terms of the state of understanding at that time for each child…you have to treat them differently from the adult, where there are questions like cow’s milk protein sensitive enteropathy.”
“I think it would be fair of me to say I was a little skeptical about making that diagnosis until, within our Friday meetings, I was shown other features from electromicroscopy, et cetera, and I developed an understanding of how little changes did make a big difference to the management within the pediatric framework.”
No charges of “fraud” or “falsification” were ever made against Dr. Andrew Wakefield by any investigation pursuant to Deer’s GMC complaint – not by the editors of the Lancet, not by the Royal Free Hospital, nor by the GMC panel. The charge of fraud was not made by anyone other than Deer, because there was no evidence to substantiate the claim. However, Deer’s incendiary allegations of fraud gained traction when the BMJ commissioned, published, endorsed, and widely publicized his articles.