Intended for healthcare professionals

Rapid response to:


Wakefield was dishonest and irresponsible over MMR research, says GMC

BMJ 2010; 340 doi: (Published 29 January 2010) Cite this as: BMJ 2010;340:c593

Rapid Response:

Re: The bewildering farrago at the GMC

Mark Struthers is right to be bewildered. Four and half years ago Ben
Goldacre wrote in a prize-winning article in the Guardian[1] (and Evan
Harris who is connected to this affair was on the panel of judges[2]):

"...people periodically come up to me and say, isn't it funny how
that Wakefield MMR paper turned out to be Bad Science after all? And I
say: no. The paper always was and still remains a perfectly good small
case series report, but it was systematically misrepresented as being more
than that, by media that are incapable of interpreting and reporting
scientific data."

So it is beyond comprehension how the GMC panel ruled that instead of
being "a perfectly good small series study", based on a group of children
seen in order of referral and treated according to clinical need, it was a
bungled version of the protocol of the Legal Aid Board commissioned study
(172-96), thus forming basis for unwarranted allegations of misconduct[3].

This has been going on for six years now, but while I believe the
treatment of each of the three doctors is iniquitous, the treatment of
John Walker-Smith is an outrage of the first order.

As to Ben Goldacre, it is a shame that he did not re-affirm his view
about this matter in his Guardian article on Thursday evening[4]. This was
also previously a matter of dispute between him and journalist Brian Deer
originator of the allegations against the three doctors[5], but now
apparently forgotten by him.

There are questions here for the entire medical community, who have
allowed this to happen.

[1] Ben Goldacre, 'Don't dumb me down', Guardian 8 September 2005,

[2] ABSW Syngenta Science writers Awards 2005, News Release (19 July

[3] Findings of Fact - Summary. General Medical Council, 28 January

[4] Ben Goldacre, 'Expert view: The media are equally guilty over the
MMR vaccine scare', Guardian 28 January 2010,

[5] Owen Amos, 'Brian Deer: the big interview' Press Gazette March

Competing interests:
Autistic son

Competing interests: No competing interests

02 February 2010
John Stone
Contributing editor: Age of Autism
London N22