On or around January 29th 2010, the GMC Fitness to Practice Panel, sitting for the last two and a half years in the case of Dr Andrew Wakefield,...
January 13, 2010
The UK GMC Panel: A Sinister and Tawdry Hearing
Managing Editor's Note: Martin Walker will be reporting the panel's findings as soon as they are available.
By Martin J Walker
On or around January 29th 2010, the GMC Fitness to Practice Panel, sitting for the last two and a half years in the case of Dr Andrew Wakefield, Professor Simon Murch and Professor Walker Smith, will end the first part of the hearing by pronouncing its 'finding on fact'. This hearing, originally scheduled for three months, is undoubtedly one of the most sinister and tawdry quasi-judicial hearings in the history of British law or medical regulation.
It is slightly surprising that the panel will have taken almost six months to reach their verdicts. I have sat through almost two and a half years of the hearing yet heard no facts that haven't been agreed by both defence and prosecution. Over and above these non-damaging issues, the whole two and a half years has consisted of evasion, obfuscation, delay, confusion, innuendo, obscurantism and plain untruth.
After the findings on fact, the GMC will probably begin a second part of the hearing in April to decide how to 'dispose' of the three notable doctors. The complainant in this case, was, as most of you know, a journalist, who has never appeared as a witness and has remained a 'secret' accuser; his interests, funding and the reasons for his previous writing in support of the vaccine manufacturers has remained concealed. During the hearing, the parents of vaccine damaged children have been ignored; the government and medical establishment position now in Britain being one of complete vaccine damage denial.
A guilty verdict, against any of the doctors, in relation to any of the many charges, will not just be a verdict against the three doctors on trial but against the parents whose children the GMC deny were ever ill with IBD, it will also be a verdict against those few journalists and members of the media with integrity who have continued to write about the children, the parents and the doctors with a semblance of truthfulness. Finally any guilty verdict will be a verdict against the children, who will never again be observed, treated or diagnosed for Inflammatory Bowel Disease. A guilty verdict will be the most massive blow to science because it will suggest that a body of lay and medical individuals can draw conclusions about correct scientific procedures on the basis, not of carefully replicated research published in a peer reviewed journal but upon the blustering gobbledygook of a prosecutor paid a large amount of money to argue ineptitude, unethical and dishonest procedures said to have taken place at least twelve years ago.
On the up-side, a guilty verdict on any of the many charges will be a victory for Brian Deer and the Sunday Times who will then claim that the decisions of the GMC has vindicated press freedom and Deer's 'award winning' investigative writing. A guilty verdict will be a vindication for the dark forces of the industrial lobby groups such as Sense About Science and the Science Media Centre. A guilty verdict will be a victory for GlaxoSmithKline, it will have wiped away the spectre of vaccine adverse reaction in Britain and shown this company and others, to have a 100% vaccine safety record. A guilty verdict will vindicate the life wasting 'abuse of process' indulged in by the GMC and will continue to shroud the venerable institutions hidden ties with Big Pharma.
In fact the GMC and the pharmaceutical companies are seemingly the main parties in this farrago that stands to win whatever the verdicts. If the doctors are found guilty then, the GMC will argue, this shows that the hundreds of charges were rightly brought by the GMC. If by some miracle all three doctors were to be found not guilty on all charges, the GMC could say that after a very difficult case the impartiality of the GMC prosecutorial process had been proved transparent. There would only be the ultimate three year time scale to explain away.
The pharmaceutical companies also seem to be in a win-win situation because regardless of a verdict of guilt or innocent they have undoubtedly smeared and destroyed the name of one of the most consistent, socially minded medical researchers of his generation and because of the unearthly duration of the trial have had considerable time to introduce other unsafe vaccinations. Oddly enough the whole Wakefield frame-up has run it's course right into the buffers of the Swine-Flu swindle, the last card played in the vaccine programme. Nothing could be more illustrative of the power now wielded by pharmaceutical companies and their criminal intent to make billions acting against the public health, than the swine flu vaccine con.
Unfortunately there is little sign that this collapsed strategy will percolate into the public or political consciousness and save the three doctors who have been tried for the two and a half years at the GMC. So effective has government and big pharma's propaganda been that even at this stage with the governopharma strategy over vaccines shown up for what it is, a great many people still believe that Dr Wakefield was a man on the make, intent on damaging the governments vaccine strategy for his own base reasons. As an investigative writer I am often faced with the question of what glues together social consensus and for the life of me, I can't in this case find the answer. If I had to guess, I would hazard that most people want a quiet life and wish to avoid difficult questions that might lead to arguments with their doctors and neighbours.
In Wakefield's case, the public have clearly been lacking the information to make an informed decisions. Most people do not know for instance that a number of GMC prosecutions are organised by and arrive at the GMC via Medico-Legal Investigations, a company solely financed by the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industries that sometimes uses journalists to report their cases. Nor do most people understand that in Dr Wakefield's case, the complainant was journalist Brian Deer, the only person in the world to lodge a formal complaint against Dr Wakefield. Deer is published by the Sunday Times, and what do the public know about the secret ties of researchers, journalists and newspapers with the vaccine industry or any other industry. In 2009, the owner of the Sunday Times, James Murdoch was given a place as a non-executive Director on the board of GlaxoSmithKline the MMR vaccine manufacturers.
As for judicial proceedings, your average Mary or Joe, sometimes failes to think beyond the fact that if it's the law or the regulation, then it must be right and if a person is brought before a court or a hearing then the probability is that they have done something wrong. They rarely think of the fact that in this case, the GMC brought the prosecution, hired and paid the prosecuting counsel, the jury and the jury chairman (a one time holder of shares in GlaxoSmithKline) and the legal advisor to the panel, that they administered the trial and held it on their own premises. The GMC - a little state within a state, but with far greater vested interests than any but the odd remaining Stalinist enclaves.
Charges were first muted in 2004, the year that the claim of over 1,000 parents against three vaccine manufacturers, that had been proceeding over ten years, was suddenly denied legal aid. The Appeal against the withdrawal of legal aid was heard by a judge whose brother was a non-executive director of GlaxoSmithKline and the managing director of Elsevier, publishers of the Lancet. Dr Horton the editor of the Lancet gave heavily disputed evidence at the hearing and was allowed not to appear a second time to answer serious questions about this evidence. Dr Wakefield was to have been an expert witness for the parents at trial, the GMC hearing has meant that he will no longer be countenanced as an expert witness in Britain and will find it impossible to get funding for further research.
Both the government and the pharmaceutical companies in Britain deny any possibility of vaccine damage. In order to carry through the prosecution the GMC argued that the children Dr Wakefield, Professor Murch and Professor Walker Smith saw at the Royal Free Hospital, were not ill or suffering from Inflammatory Bowel Disease. This massive campaign to distort the truth has left thousands of parents bereft of medical and other help for an array of illnesses brought on by the MMR vaccination.
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I began attending the General Medical Council Fitness to Practice hearing in 2007. By then I had been looking at the case of Dr Wakefield and the predicament of the parents of vaccine damaged children for three years. During the first months of the hearing it was clear that the voice of the very particular group of parents whose children had been adversely affected in different ways by the MMR and MR vaccination was not going to be heard. In fact the GMC prosecutors rather than arguing the case in defence of injured parents, frequently used the parents against the doctors, claiming that wilful, and they implied, neurotic mothers, had pushed their children who were not ill, into the care of Dr Wakefield and others in a vain search for their own answer to their children's autism or to gain compensation.
Of course the truth was plain to see outside the hearing where parents demonstrated on ehalf of the doctors at the start of each new session. The media, with a few notable exceptions, however, like both the prosecution and defence counsel failed to report the voice of these parents.
It was a few months into the hearing in 2007, that I decided it would be a good idea to produce a series of books written by parents about the predicament of having children who had Inflammatory Bowel Disease and regressive autism brought about by vaccination. This was clearly a most appropriate way of using lay people's writing - something I had long been interested in - to give voice to those who had been denied it.
I was not the only person to realise the importance of making public the parents' voice. At the same time as I began publishing the first 'parents' voice' book, later to be called Silenced Witnesses, the television film maker Alan Golding began making a series of short films which presented the voices of parents. These films culminated early in 2009 in Golding's brilliant, Selective Hearing: Brian Deer and the GMC. In this film, a select group of parents told the camera exactly what happened to their children after vaccination and how this conflicted with both Brian Deer's story and the GMC's view that their children were never ill.
The kind of publishing that I embarked upon is not without its problems. Perhaps the first and most obvious one is that the majority of the parents did not believe that they could write and the thought of producing a 12,000-word chapter initially overawed many of them.
The first Silenced Witnesses book took about eight months to produce and while all the writers seemed to learn quickly and easily how to tell their stories, there is no doubt in my mind that I was the main beneficiary of the exercise. I didn't learn so much from the editing process that I was anyway familiar with, but I learnt enormously from having to talk through writing difficulties with committed first-time writers.
In Silenced Witnesses Volume II: The Parents' Story, another eight parents tell the story of their children's regression into autism after suffering IBD that occurred after vaccination. Only the doctors on trial and a few independently minded journalists, have told the parent's stories intermittently over the last 5 years. Silenced Witnesses volumes one and two published in 2008 and 2009, have tried to rectify this. It is these stories and these lives that must be borne in mind as the GMC gets ready to pronounce its 'finding on facts'.
The first and most important thing that I learnt was that whatever my view was as a 'professional', the parents of vaccine damaged children had a very clear idea of what they wanted to say; they just needed help in saying it. This meant, however, that most contributors were quite dogmatic about what they wanted to include in their chapters and, of course, it wasn't style or aesthetics that were important, but the raw edge of their experience in having to deal with their vaccine damaged children in a world that denied their existence.
Following the 'findings on fact', parents of vaccine damaged autistic children, whose children have given their sensibilities and even their lives for the country's unsafe vaccine programme, will have an even greater struggle to convince the world that they need compassionate help and funding to care for their children.
Volume II of Silenced Witnesses, out on the 23rd. January 2010, took over a year to produce and the final product is an attractive book of 300 pages accompanied by a free copy of Alan Golding's DVD. In this book and the first one, the parents have been freely able to recount their stories. Inevitably, my own one great regret is that without the power of mainstream book publishers and the marketing drive of retailers and the 'industry', the book will not have the impact that it should have and ensure the parents voice is heard over that of the vaccine producers, the paediatric establishment and the GMC.
he parents need all the help they can get, at this time, in publicising their circumstances and those of their children. One of the ways in which you can show support for the parents is by supporting these two volumes, trying to find buyers and helping to fund the printing and publication, as yet not completely accounted for. This book has to reach people. Buy these books, and help us make them a success. Read and then raise the parents' voices that have so far been stifled. If there is anyway that you can help with the distribution or re-printing of the books, make a donation or buy the books in bulk, don't hesitate to contact me through www.slingshotpublications.com.
Martin J Walker is an investigative writer who has written four books about aspects of the medical industrial complex. He started focusing on conflict of interest, intervention by pharmaceutical companies in government and patient groups in 1993. Over the last three years he has been a campaign writer for the parents of MMR vaccine damaged children covering every day of the now two year hearing of the General Medical Council that is trying Dr Wakefield and two other doctors. His GMC accounts can be found at www.cryshame