Director of the Society of Homeopaths Threatens Libel Action Against Paul Offit

In today’s issue of Spiked, you can read a review of a new book by Paul Offit entitled Deadly Choices: How The Anti-Vaccine Movement Threatens Us All. However, if you live in the UK, the review is all you can read, as publication of the book has been stopped after the publishers were threatened with a libel action.

The book is an account of the rise of the anti-vaccination movement. In particular, the high profile and showbiz version of it that is emerging strongly in the United States, with stars such as Jenny McCarthy, Jim Carrey and Oprah Winfrey all fuelling the fire of fear.

In his Spiked article, Michael Fitzpatrick describes how anyone who dares stand up against the cabal of celebrity know-nothings is likely to face “intimidation, threats of litigation and ad hominem attacks”.

It is therefore not surprising that Offit himself is facing a legal challenge to his book in the UK – the natural home of the misconceived libel case.

According to a BMJ news report, Richard Barr threatened libel action over a single sentence in the book that claimed that, as a solicitor, he had personally paid Andrew Wakefield money to “carry out a study for the purpose of the MMR litigation”.

Richard Barr, who is currently a Director of the Society of Homeopaths, an organisations whose members promote their own alternatives to MMR, was the solicitor who was at the heart of the MMR scare with Andrew Wakefield.

In the 90’s, Barr began acting for the JABS support group, set up to help parents who believed their children had been harmed by vaccines,  and started to look for ways that the parents could gain compensation. He was able to ensure that legal aid was available for them. The only problem was that there was no evidence that MMR caused any of the problems the parents were sure were caused by the vaccine.

To get around that problem, Barr came up with a pioneering approach. He applied to legal aid to get funding to do some clinical studies into associations between the vaccine and problems such as autism. He formed a partnership with a sympathetic doctor called Andrew Wakefield who was paid £150 per hour for his time.

The story is now well known: Wakefield published paper and claimed a link between MMR and autism.That paper has since been shown to be fraudulent. The BMJ described the whole affair as a ‘scam’. Wakefield failed to disclose the vast financial interests involved. He failed to disclose that he had patented his own measles vaccines that might be used if MMR could be discredited. The data given the paper has also since been shown to be inconsistent with hospital records – “no single case can the medical records be fully reconciled with what was published”.

The chilling effects of English libel laws must make publishers very wary of tackling issues where people are known to be routinely attacked by vested interests, lobby groups and cranks.

As Brian Deer said, “the Barr-Wakefield deal was the foundation of the vaccine crisis, both in Britain and throughout the world.” Offit’s book describes how that manufactured scare has had huge implications for public health and is gaining momentum through celebrity fuelled publicity. Despite the link between MMR and autism having since been conclusively disproven, the anti-vaccine movement appears to be unstoppable.

And so, the publishers of Offit’s book have agreed to take the sentence out. As in all libel cases, slight slip-ups in wording can have catastrophic consequences. Documents obtained from the UK’s Legal Services Commission under the Freedom of Information Act, by Brian Deer, show huge amounts of money (£15,882,159) being paid out and a much more complex process than simply Barr personally paying Wakefield.

Hopefully, we will still see this book in the UK. But not after enormous expense for the publishers. I understand review copies had been sent out and it was ready for launch. Books don’t make an awful lot of money. The chilling effects of English libel laws must make publishers very wary of tackling issues where people are known to be routinely attacked by vested interests, lobby groups and cranks. Publishers can rarely afford to defend even frivolous libel cases – and pulping books will destroy all profits.

That is why the anti-vaxxers must be very happy about this. They do not want you hearing any alternatives to their shrill message. And as Offit states, that is a position that threatens us all.

81 comments for “Director of the Society of Homeopaths Threatens Libel Action Against Paul Offit

  1. March 4, 2011 at 5:15 pm

    Absolutely incredible.

    Chilling, truly so – the need for genuine reform is evident from this sort of action.

  2. March 4, 2011 at 5:21 pm

    If this kind of thing keeps up it will become impossible to publish any book critical of any crank theory, there will always be some delicate flower who will take offence.

    I am buying a copy online.

    Mind you, if it came to trial it may be, as Wilde found against Quensberry, one of those cases you rather wish you hadn’t started.

    • Natalia
      March 6, 2011 at 12:25 am

      Buy “Vaccination is not immunization” by Dr. Tim O’shea. Thedoctorwithin.com
      Good luck!

      • Antaeus Feldspar
        March 6, 2011 at 5:33 pm

        Why? I can get the same sort of misinformation peddled in that book absolutely free on the Internet; it’s not hard to find the deranged ravings of cranks and quacks. It’s not even hard to find the information that shows Tim O’Shea’s book to be full of dishonest misrepresentation; for instance, he vaguely refers to the old antivaccination canard “infectious diseases were over 90% resolved by the time vaccines came onto the market”. The truth is that while fewer people were DYING from the infectious diseases, they were still GETTING the diseases – and just because they weren’t dying doesn’t mean they weren’t suffering blindness, deafness, sterility, mental retardation and other tragedies due to the diseases. Vaccination, by contrast, actually prevented people from GETTING the disease. O’Shea should be ashamed for peddling such tripe.

  3. Dave
    March 4, 2011 at 5:34 pm

    Typo: “patented his own measles vaccines that might be used in MMR could be discredited” should be “patented his own measles vaccines that might be used if MMR could be discredited”

  4. March 4, 2011 at 6:06 pm

    There is an extensive legal blogosphere, including what one might call a “legal blog underground”. Some of the stuff you can find there about Barr’s role in the MMR case makes an interesting read.

  5. March 4, 2011 at 6:22 pm

    Funny, this letter that Brian Deer has would suggest that there is absolutely nothing wrong with that sentence at all (under the first video clip):

    http://noodlemaz.wordpress.com/2010/05/11/research-fraud-for-dummies/

    Surely this case can’t go anywhere?!

    • Paddy
      March 7, 2011 at 11:44 pm

      > Richard Barr threatened libel action over a single sentence in
      > the book that claimed that, as a solicitor, he had personally
      > paid Andrew Wakefield money to “carry out a study for the purpose
      > of the MMR litigation”.

      Fact: Richard Barr hired Andrew Wakefield.
      Discrepancy: As an “expert” witness.

      He was never directly paid by Barr for conducting the study itself, hence the basis for this corrupt mockery of a legal case.

  6. Richard Rawlins
    March 4, 2011 at 8:40 pm

    Is Dr Aust able to suggest a “legal blog” which covers Barr and MMR?

    I’m not having any luck so far.

    I have read Barr’s own web site. He seems to have taken up the cause of the parents who believed vaccine was implicated in autism (which it might be for all I know) – but Barr had no evidence that might be the case.

    So what was it convinced him to spend ten years of his life on this project?

    Whatever it was has cost him. But he should not seek to recover his costs by suing a writer who exposes what has been going on -even if there are some inaccuracies.

    • Anna N
      March 6, 2011 at 12:02 pm

      Hmm, I don’t know what convinced him to spent ten years of his life on the project… but perhaps this article in The Lawyer may shed some light? “[Richard Barr] says more than 1,000 of the 2,000 cases he is bringing may warrant damages of millions of pounds each”.

      The Lawyer “MMR vaccine case set to break compensation record” 9 June 1999

      http://www.thelawyer.com/mmr-vaccine-case-set-to-break-compensation-records/88405.article

  7. March 4, 2011 at 11:19 pm

    A fair amount of interesting background can be found by going to the website of legal trade paper The Lawyer and searching with something like

    vaccine AND MMR

    • Richard Rawlins
      March 5, 2011 at 9:05 am

      Many thanks.

  8. jennifer
    March 5, 2011 at 4:15 am

    I guess the dozen or so reports of MMR and autism diagnoses reported to VAERS in the decade prior to the 1998 Lancet paper don’t count for squat.

    • Badly Shaved Monkey
      March 5, 2011 at 8:02 am

      The evidence would suggest that there is no causal link, so, yes, they do count for squat.

      I think you misunderstand the point of the system and what a VAER is.

      • Laura
        March 5, 2011 at 9:31 am

        badly shaved monkey..can you explain what a VAER is,I tried looking it up and just got Norwegian words! thanks. I am guessing it is some sort of adverse reaction reporting system?

      • Hokum
        March 6, 2011 at 1:04 am

        Vaccine Adverse Effects Reporting System, VAERS. BTW, Wakefield’s study has been revisited and vindicated. Brian Deer was acting as a corporate shill. I find it funny that this article attempts to paint the vaccine safety crowd as the majority crowding out the scientific minority. Paul Offit has made such ridiculous claims that a child could receive a million vaccine doses and be perfectly fine.

        Vaccines all contain aluminum, formaldehyde, and a variety of other chemical agents that are proven neurotoxins and carcinogens. Look up the definition of adjuvant, claimed to be safe (with no evidence) they are at the same time claimed to irritate the body to immune response. These chemicals would be hazardous waste in any other industry but are somehow perfectly safe to inject into a baby multiple times. Vaccines are unscientific quackery.

      • Rob
        March 6, 2011 at 8:49 pm

        Yes, in the USA, VAERS is a reporting modality but with very vague requirements. Cases reported to VAERS concerning MMR and an autism diagnosis do not stand up well as evidence for ANY other case. There is no requirement to actually scientifically prove that the vaccination caused the autism diagnosis.

      • Daniel
        March 7, 2011 at 6:04 pm

        @Hokum:

        Please read here: http://justthevax.blogspot.com/2010/02/independent-wakefield-way-really.html

        The Wakefield study was NOT replicated, let alone vindicated. Oh, and I assume you have evidence to back up your claim that Deer was shilling?

    • March 6, 2011 at 1:26 pm

      Bad things happen to people.

      If you give a vaccine to millions of people, bad things will happen to some of them shortly after the vaccination. VAERS will pick up all of these bad things.

      Innumerate or malicious antivaxxers will then report all these bad things as having been caused by vaccination, even if bad things happen to people who have been vaccinated at exactly the same rate as they happen to who have not been vaccinated.

      (In epidemiology we talk about the observed and the expected rates of adverse reactions.)

      I suspect that some of the references to the number of adverse events following vaccination are reported, innocently, by people who really think that VAERS only reports events caused by vaccination; but I suspect that in a majority of cases this is done quite calculatedly by people for whom “vaccines are bad” is an act of faith, cynically trying to convert others to their faith.

      [My apologies if this appears twice. I tried before, and it didn’t appear.]

  9. michele
    March 5, 2011 at 4:37 am

    paul offit SHOULD be named paul profit…as in, all he cares about is profit. he is a pHARMa shill and a morally lacking moron. i would LOVE to see him take his 100,000 vaccines at once and see how he fares with all that toxic crap in his body. (yes, the moron made a claim that a child could safely receive 100,000 vaccines at once and handle it just fine…and this idiot has a medical license…OH THE HORROR!!!)

    • Badly Shaved Monkey
      March 5, 2011 at 8:04 am

      Poe’s Law?

    • Le Canard Noir
      March 5, 2011 at 9:46 am

      I do think it is wonderful, that after saying how critics of anti-vaxxers are routinely subjected to abuse, an anti-vaxxer comes along spouting venom. Such insightlessness.

    • Matthew Cline
      March 5, 2011 at 11:43 pm

      He said that a child’s immune system could simultaneously handle the antigens present in 100,000 vaccines, which is different than being injected with 100,000 vaccines.

      • Natalia
        March 6, 2011 at 12:27 am

        Go on and try it on your own kid….

      • dt
        March 6, 2011 at 12:37 am

        Mine have certainly had more than that. Within days of birth, they had been colonised by hundreds of different bacterial species, each with hundreds of unique polysaccharide and peptide antigens.

      • Hokum
        March 6, 2011 at 1:07 am

        dt, don’t be a moroff. No child is naturally colonized by hundred of bacterial species entering directly through the blood and accompanied with chemical agents that are proven carcinogens and neurotoxins. The pro-vaccination crowd is no different than religious fundamentalists.

      • March 6, 2011 at 11:36 am

        Errrrm… vaccines aren’t injected “directly through the blood”. They are injected subcutaneously (just under the skin). Some are given orally… which is the way children encounter all the antigens dt mentioned. Anyone who says vaccines are injected “directly through the blood” is just showing they don’t actually know what they’re talking about.

        Similarly, as has been repeatedly set out on scientific sites, your body contains / makes much more formaldehyde than is in any vaccine. And your body also contains aluminium. Which DOESN’T go “into your bloodstream” when you get vaccinated, even if the vaccine has any aluminium in it – the aluminium in a vaccine is INSOLUBLE and stays at the injection site to help persuade immune cells to take up the antigens and start the immune priming.. The aluminium itself (a tiny amount compared to how much is in you already) will be taken up by macrophages (a kind of immune cell) for disposal. BTW, this is exactly the same sort of process that happens in your lung when you breathe in dust, smoke, mud, pollen, or any other particle. As humans have been doing for hundreds of thousands of years.

        By now you might be seeing a pattern. Anti-vaccine people do not understand science, and routinely misrepresent it even after it is explained to them. They are RIGHT (in their own minds), so all mainstream scientists must be Pharma Shills. And of course, any inept or fraudulent scientist, or sleazy lawyer, who is on their side is a saint – even if such people are making a tidy living out of feeding the anti-vaxxers delusions and conspiracy theories.

      • Wes
        March 7, 2011 at 5:50 pm

        @Hokum Why don’t you go and get some polio. Oh wait, scrap that vaccines eliminated it. Lets try small pox, damn, vaccines got that too. Go and die of measles encaphalitis, that is making a come back because of the ignorant morons like you

    • Jonny
      March 7, 2011 at 12:34 pm

      I fail to see the issue here. Kids are getting less vaccines than they used to, thanks to quacks and know-it-alls spreading a load of scary lies. And now the diseases are on the return. It’s too simple for words.

      Less Vaccinations = More Diseases/Deaths.

      Why anybody would argue any further is beyond me. Sometimes in life, the simplest statement, is often the loudest.

  10. Richard Rawlins
    March 5, 2011 at 9:09 am

    I don’t know about anybody else in the UK, but my clock’s gone back!

    (N0w 08:09)

    What time is Mr Duck on?

  11. March 5, 2011 at 1:19 pm

    Presumably we’d be able to purchase the book from amazon.com, thus avoiding the reprint?

    • Nick
      March 8, 2011 at 11:09 am

      Why would you want to? The reprint is more accurate, as it corrects the false statement that was the subject of the libel claim.

      Sorry, but I don’t have much sympathy here. If publishers really are “wary” about libel actions, then why not check their facts before going to print?

      • The Founding Mothers
        March 11, 2011 at 1:17 pm

        Because English libel law is often used as a scare tactic to prevent free, reasonable speech. It can be more expensive for a defendant to ‘win’ a libel case brought against them, i.e., their words are not found to be libelous, than it is to reprint a book, retract a statement or settle out of court.

        Just ask Simon Singh.

  12. For the Record
    March 5, 2011 at 5:08 pm

    We are a bit shakey on facts aren’t we? Wakefield’s paper did not claim a link between MMR and autism (as anyone can check). There was nothing unusual in the relationship between Barr and Wakefield: it is normal to pay experts for court work, and the standard rate at the time was £150 an hour, not paid by Barr but by the Legal Aid Board, later the Legal Services Commission. This was not disguised from the Lancet but at the time it was not the convention to disclose court work as a competing interest. Subsequently Richard Horton, editor of the Lancet seems to have had a lapse of memory. Wakefield patented a treatment for inflammatory bowel disease which might have been used as a measles vaccine, but that was not the purpose of the invention.

    Deer’s claim was not that the Lancet study was inconsistent with hospital records: he was making an inappropriate comparison with GP notes to which the Royal Free team never had access. The patient histories in the study were compiled by Prof John Walker-Smith as is recorded in it. It was impossible for Wakefield to have changed any of the data since there were 12 other signatories, and moreover none to date have corroborated a word Deer has said: one of them the histopathalogist, Susan Davies, wrote to BMJ last year to deny the false construction Deer had put on her evidence to the GMC in an article.

    • Matthew Cline
      March 5, 2011 at 11:52 pm

      Deer’s claim was not that the Lancet study was inconsistent with hospital records: he was making an inappropriate comparison with GP notes to which the Royal Free team never had access

      Assuming this to be true, it means that Wakefield’s did incompetent research, since he made no effort to get the full medical records of the study subjects. It might be fine to not get the full medical records for ordinary clinical treatment, but this was research.

      It was impossible for Wakefield to have changed any of the data since there were 12 other signatories

      1) Deer never claimed that he changed the original records, only that he lied about them. Though I suppose you could say that he changed the copies of the records that he gave to his co-authors.

      2) How were the paper’s co-authors supposed to be able to tell if Wakefield changed around any of the data?

      • Hokum
        March 6, 2011 at 1:12 am

        You don’t have to assume anything. Go read the damn article, along with Deer’s original report and the rebuttals it has engendered over the years. This stuff is public knowledge. Pro-vaccination folks once again take the cake for faith-based medicine.

        After doing your homework, you might want to check out all those fabulous double-blind placebo controlled safety and efficacy trials. Hint: there are none. The only placebo-controlled efficacy studies used another vaccine as the placebo. If you do find some though, please let us know. We’ve been waiting for decades.

      • March 6, 2011 at 1:39 pm

        No, you are right. The paper didn’t claim that. Wakefield said in a TV interview that he thought this was likely (despite no reasonable evidence), and suggested giving separate M, M, and R vaccinations.

        It wasn’t the Lancet paper per se; it was Wakefield’s statements and the ignorant media response to them that caused the catastrophic and unnecessary collapse in confidence in the vaccines.

      • For the Record
        March 6, 2011 at 5:58 pm

        Matthew Cline

        No, this would be standard practice in British hospitals. The consultants would get referral notes from GPs and they would compile their own medical histories which would be much more informed and exact. Actually, in an important sense this paper was not research. It was simply reviewing the case notes of a group of patients, and this was all the paper claimed to do. Nor would GPs jottings necessarily be of great value. But, not only do we end up with Deer’s interpretation of the GP data (for which he has no qualifications) he also notoriously made a false claim that patient 1’s symptoms of deafness were an early manifestation of autism when he was diagnosed with an ear infection.

        “More importantly, Child 1 had a visible and physician-diagnosed reason for his decreased hearing: He had purulent otitis media and Mr. Deer knew that.”

        http://www.bmj.com/content/342/bmj.c7452.full/reply#bmj_el_248923

        What Deer says is of no account. Wakefield did not give the data to his colleagues, they gave the data to him, and they would have been able to see if he had changed anything. None of them has ever made such a claim about him.

        Peter English

        First of all it is very important that anyone who claims the paper said that is relaying false information (as for instance Quackometer above). Secondly, Wakefield had been persuaded by Ari Zuckerman, dean of the medical school who called the press conference, to give his endorsement to single vaccines, which were at the time still available as part of the routine programme. Then, 6 months later the DH and the pharmaceutical compainies removed the option of single vaccines, thus politicising the issue.

        I certainly do not accept the view that their should a priori scepticism to parents reporting vaccine damage. That, in itself, is indicative of scientific bias, and put vaccines on a completely different footing to other medical products.

      • For the Record
        March 6, 2011 at 6:01 pm

        I certainly do not accept the view that there should be a priori scepticism to parents reporting vaccine damage. That, in itself, is indicative of scientific bias, and puts vaccines on a completely different footing to other medical products.

  13. Clam
    March 5, 2011 at 5:15 pm

    Presumably this dishonest lawyer (aren’t they all? Definition: “Honest”: someone who tells the truth and all of the truth, swelp me gawd) is claiming that “he” didn’t pay Mr Wakefield, he just got someone else to pay him. (Apart from the £150 an hour for – how many hours?).
    Yup, an obvious libel. “I didn’t murder my husband, I just paid Antonio to murder him. I’m innocent”.
    Worth a good million to anyone.

    • Hokum
      March 6, 2011 at 2:44 am

      You might want to try getting a little context before making sweeping metaphors. It’s common knowledge that plaintiffs AND defendants regularly find ways to bankroll experts performing research that they hope will benefit their side of the argument. The Lancet was aware of this relationship before the peer-reviewed publishing of the article, which I’m all but certain you’ve never bothered to read. Try it. You could learn something instead of playing the clever parrot.

      • Antaeus Feldspar
        March 6, 2011 at 5:59 pm

        You assert that “The Lancet was aware of this relationship” as if it were uncontested fact, but in fact Richard Horton has specifically denied that he was aware of who was bankrolling Wakefield. Wakefield claims that Horton was aware, but between Wakefield and Horton I have no idea why any sensible person would decide that Wakefield’s honesty was to be relied upon more than Horton’s.

        After all, even if it was correct that Horton knew who was bankrolling Wakefield, any scientifically competent person would know that Wakefield’s description of his patient population and how they were referred was deceptive, as indeed the GMC determined it was. Wakefield wasn’t writing up a document purely for the usage of Richard Horton as a private individual; he was writing for the supposed benefit and education of the medical community. Did Wakefield make any attempt to make the medical community aware of who was bankrolling him, or that his patient population had been almost without exception referred to him by those bankrolling him? No, on the contrary, Wakefield withheld that information even from his own co-authors.

      • For the Record
        March 6, 2011 at 7:00 pm

        Antaeus Feldspar

        Horton was written to by Dr BD Edwards of the MCA (but in a private capacity) pointing out these issues in March 1997. The Lancet then wrote to Barr denying him permission to use Lancet material in Dawbarn’s news-sheets and an extended correspondence ensued. Wakefield acknowledged that he was working for the Legal Aid Board in a letter published in the Lancet on 2 May 1998, simply acknowledging a fact of which the Lancet was alreay well aware (but court work was not regarded as a competing interest according to the conventions of the times). Thus, even in September 1999 and August 2000 when Wakefield wrote the Lancet on MMR related matters he was still not expected to declare it. Horton’s not very dignified response to Wakefield’s evidence, in a statement read out to the GMC on 26 November 2008 was to maintain that other staff were involved and he had never really taken it all in.

        Mr Robert Hantusch, a barrister, wrote The Times (24 February 2004):

        “… the courts do not consider that the engagement of someone to act as an expert witness in litigation has the effect that that person is then biased. Indeed, if this were the legal position, no paid professional could ever at any time give evidence to a court.”

        and this was echoed by Prof Elizabeth Miller from the other side, defending herself in Private Eye (19 March 2004):

        “…there can be no conflict of interest when acting as an expert for the courts, because the duty to the courts overrides any other obligation, including to the person from whom the expert receives the instruction or by whom they are paid.”

  14. Clam
    March 5, 2011 at 5:35 pm

    Whoops!
    “Wakefield’s paper did not claim a link between MMR and autism (as anyone can check).”

    Now who’s telling Porkies?

    BMJ 2011; 342:c7452 doi: 10.1136/bmj.c7452 (Published 5 January 2011)
    Cite this as: BMJ 2011; 342:c7452
    Editorial
    Wakefield’s article linking MMR vaccine and autism was fraudulent

    So you are libelling the British Medical journal?
    “he was funded to the tune of £435,643 (+ expenses) by the Legal Aid Fund ”
    and he patented a single vaccine.
    So, who are you trying kid? Or is “For the Record” a nom-de-guerre for A.Wakefield, Esq. (disgraced) or Richard (Diss) Barr?

    • Hokum
      March 6, 2011 at 2:51 am

      Wakefield’s paper did not claim a valid causative link between MMR and autism. It didn’t. Try reading the damn article. What it did do was note a possible correlation that was strong enough to suggest follow-up studies. If you actually knew anything about scientific research, and bothered to read instead of parrot, you’d know from the first paragraph that the article was a pilot study. Pilot studies are designed to open further avenues of research, not to uncover valid, causative links.

  15. March 5, 2011 at 6:57 pm

    This is one side of the argument – and I commend you for bringing it up.

    The other side is that there were several reports of cheating and bribing on the vaccine manufacturers’ side – up to the rankings of the WHO.

    As a physician, well trained and educated, I have a hard time making up my mind. What to believe? How to act? Must be worse for patients and parents.

    For now, I advise people to do as few vaccinations as possible, and be especially careful with newer vaccines that have not yet proven themselves. MMR I deem useful.

    Both sides have their hands dirty, and the studies that should be done are not being done.

    Alexa Fleckenstein M.D., physician, author.

    • dt
      March 6, 2011 at 12:45 am

      As a physician, and one with considerably more qualifications than you, I can say I also advise people to get as few vaccines as are necessary.

      It is just that my version of what is necessary and in the child’s best interests differs considerably from a tiny minority of others. And like all objecive, rational and science-minded individuals I have little trouble in making up my mind about which side’s “evidence” to believe.

      dt, physician, raconteur, bon viveur.

      • Hokum
        March 6, 2011 at 2:59 am

        Physicians are not scientists. Go back to grad school, dt. If you’ve made up your mind, then you are a faith-based quack. The safety trials that have been performed were not representative of the population (excluding all but the most healthy children) and lacked validity (writing off adverse reactions that did not already appear on the list of the vaccine’s side effects as coincidental).

        Further, efficacy studies have all been deeply flawed. There are no studies showing vaccine efficacy against a true placebo. Every study used another vaccine as the placebo. This information is available to anyone who bothers to read the actual studies and do some homework to understand the language used.

  16. For the Record
    March 5, 2011 at 8:12 pm

    Clam

    Most assuredly it was the BMJ who were telling porkies (or even bare-faced lies). The paper which was published as an early report plainly states:

    “We did not prove an association between measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine and the syndrome described.Virological studies are underway that may help to resolve this issue.”

    http://www.generationrescue.org/pdf/wakefield2.pdf

    • dt
      March 6, 2011 at 12:49 am

      When Wakefiels wrote this sentence, he already was aware that the results of the virological studies were in, and that they were negative.

      • Hokum
        March 6, 2011 at 3:03 am

        Let me guess, you learned this from, that corporate shill, Brian Deer’s divinations.

      • For the Record
        March 6, 2011 at 4:47 pm

        dt

        Yes, later results were positive, and it was too early to shut down. There were also positive results (2 – one autistic, one control but both having had MMR and bowel disease) in the 2008 Hornig paper confirmed across 3 laboratories. The Hornig paper despite its title ‘Lack of Association etc’ states:

        “Our results differ with reports noting MV RNA in ileal biopsies of 75% of ASD vs. 6% of control children [10].. Discrepancies are unlikely to represent differences in experimental technique because similar primer and probe sequences, cycling conditions and instruments were employed in this and earlier reports; furthermore, one of the three laboratories participating in this study performed the assays described in earlier reports. Other factors to consider include differences in patient age, sex, origin (Europe vs. North America), GI disease, recency of MMR vaccine administration at time of biopsy, and methods for confirming neuropsychiatric status in cases and controls.”

        http://www.plosone.org/article/info:doi/10.1371/journal.pone.0003140

        Moreover, as pointed out below Prof Bustin conceded the validity of the O’Leary results under pressure at the Cedillo hearing, which were also replicated in other laboratories. Obviously, these were not politically expedient results but there were valid.

  17. JimR
    March 5, 2011 at 9:06 pm

    “Wakefield patented a treatment for inflammatory bowel disease which might have been used as a measles vaccine, but that was not the purpose of the invention.”

    Was this vaccine ever subjected to an RCT?
    Was any efficacy determined about it in lab animals or humans?
    What was the purpose of the vaccine if not for IBS or measles?

    A bit off point, but I am confused.
    Can Richard Barr bill hours to Legal Aid for “managing” the research?

    Can any poor researcher find a lawyer to help him obtain funding for exploratory research from Legal Aid on some pretext relating it to a possible legal suit? Seems a bit of waste of taxpayer funds for legal assistance to funnel these monies into biomedical research for any reason. Is there someone somewhere who was denied funds for a legitimate suit because £500,000 were misallocated?

  18. For the Record
    March 5, 2011 at 9:57 pm

    JimR

    Why are you confused? It is normal procedure to register a concept prior to development.

    Incidentally, Prof Stephen Bustin made £225k preparing evidence for the pharmaceutical companies, and a lot more on top from the US Department of Justice for testifying in the vaccine court. Are you and Clam suggesting that this was an impropriety too?

    Under pressure Bustin also admitted that though some of Wakefield’s (O’Leary’s) biopsy results for measles RNA may have been contaminated other results for high copy numbers were fully valid:

    http://www.vaccinationnews.com/busting-rules-f-edward-yazbak-part-2-3

    I note that Bustin has not been back to rebut Yazbak though the article spent a month on Google News and is now 3rd item on a Google Search under his name.

  19. Ian
    March 5, 2011 at 11:15 pm

    More false propaganda probably financed by Big Pharma. Ask all the thousands of parents who’s kids have Autism now about this subject. And may God make any pro-vaccine parent’s (preferable scum queen Bill Gates himself) child get Autism before any anti-vaccine parent. Don’t get me wrong I don’t want any harm to any child but better first to those ignorant enough to still allow the medical mafia destroy our children and world!

    • Mojo
      March 5, 2011 at 11:40 pm

      “More false propaganda probably financed by Big Pharma.”

      Oh look, an inaccurate and unsupported ad hominem.

      “And may God make any pro-vaccine parent’s (preferable scum queen Bill Gates himself) child get Autism before any anti-vaccine parent.”

      How charming.

      “Don’t get me wrong I don’t want any harm to any child”

      Reading that in conjunction with the previous sentence makes it look remarkably like a porkie.

      I take it that you have no rational arguments, or evidence.

      • Hokum
        March 6, 2011 at 1:22 am

        “I take it you have no rational arguments, or evidence.”

        I take it you do? Please provide us with links to all those wonderful safety and efficacy trials. When a medical treatment is mandated, then it behooves the medical establishment to ensure product safety and reliability. This has not been done, to the point that manufacturers are shielded from lawsuits at the cost of taxpayers. The only efficacy trials used another vaccine for the placebo. The only safety trials excluded any children with a hint of not being perfectly healthy and wrote off adverse reactions as coincidental.

        Vaccines are faith-based, medical fraud. When your crowd finds some evidence, please share. I can’t speak for everyone, but I’m quite rational and willing to give attention to meaningful evidence.

        BTW, there is an argument floating around that manufacturers must be shielded to prevent frivolous lawsuits and huge plaintiff awards. Hokum. That’s what appeals are for. Vaccines are faith-based quackery.

      • Mojo
        March 7, 2011 at 12:49 am

        So still no rational arguments or evidence, then.

    • Hokum
      March 6, 2011 at 3:14 am

      hahaha. There is no evidence that Bill Gates has inoculated his children. What we do know is that his foundation which promotes vaccines and GMOs worldwide was began to do so immediately after it was formed. We also know it is heavily invested in both industries, and it was founded shortly after the anti-trust trials against Microsoft resulted in Microsoft gaining immunity from the DOJ against further lawsuits. Scum queen indeed!

    • jplechago
      March 6, 2011 at 8:04 am

      Amazing venom. Really hideous wishes. Pro vaccine parents are not out to hurt anyone. They are concerned about their children getting horrible diseases. Wishing another disease on their children makes me question whether you you care at all. It seems that you just want to scream for attention.
      I just want to ask this:
      If vaccines do not work, why is polio virtually wiped from the industrialized world? If vaccines do not work, why have I never met anyone (to my knowledge) who has had measles, mumps, or rubella?
      Furthermore, I do not understand the attack on modern medicine. Humans now live longer than any other time in history, despite smoking and pollution! Why is that?

    • Jonny
      March 24, 2011 at 4:37 pm

      “those ignorant enough to still allow the medical mafia destroy our children and world!”

      Wow, put that on a trophy, that is possibly the most retarded thing i’ve heard in a while.

  20. The Suburbanite
    March 6, 2011 at 2:47 am

    @ Hokum – Please clarify: “The only efficacy trials used another vaccine for the placebo. The only safety trials excluded any children with a hint of not being perfectly healthy and wrote off adverse reactions as coincidental.”

    – regarding what; MMR?

    • Hokum
      March 6, 2011 at 3:07 am

      Regarding all vaccines, including MMR.

      • moronbaiter
        March 6, 2011 at 11:13 am

        So are you claiming all vaccines have a negative risk/benefit? How do you explain smallpox vanishing from the world? And (almost) polio?

  21. March 6, 2011 at 9:49 am

    Re: censorship

    While you are all having a lovely time arguing about vaccines, I’d like to point out that this is really about whether bringing a libel case in this case is motivated by a desire to stifle scientific debate, or whether there really has been a libel.

    If the author has agreed to omit the sentence in question then it is surely open to him to re-publish the book. The only reason this might be difficult is the costs involved of re-printing.

    I revised a poetry book I edited and published because I had omitted one stanza of one poem. Resubmitting the new book to the digital printer cost me all of £22, because I was using print-on-demand.

    Authors of controversial books take note – we are now in the 21st century.

    I’d also like to comment in passing that I am a GP qualified over 30 years ago, and I was able recently to enable a younger GP to make a diagnosis on a rash that she had never seen before, on an unvaccinated adult from Vietnam. It’s a long time since I last saw a case of measles. My own kids were vaccinated in the MR catchup programme in the ’90s.

  22. Jody Aberdein
    March 6, 2011 at 10:47 am

    But Richard Barr is a reluctant solicitor. It says so on his site. He’d much rather tolerate criticism, review his own position self critically, and make polite reasoned discourse in an open forum rather than threaten an expensive libel case I’m sure.

  23. Chris
    March 6, 2011 at 8:38 pm

    The actions of Richard Barr and the use of the legal fund was more thoroughly covered in Offit’s book Autism’s False Prophets. If he had an issue then, he should have sued before the USA government restricted libel action from the UK.

    J.B. Handley did sue Offit for some verbiage in that book. The outcome was that Offit changed some of the wording (and it is no less flattering), plus they both donated money to an autism charity of Offit’s choosing.

    (it is amusing to see the folks with absolutely no understanding of biochemistry arguing on the dangers of products of human metabolism, just because they are included in some vaccines)

    • For the Record
      March 6, 2011 at 9:16 pm

      Chris

      The reason why Offit had to change the text of his book for JB Handley was because he attributed to Handley something Handley hadn’t said, and was spliced together from something that he had said – it was, in other words, a manufactured quote. Not very good. If Offit said other things which were not flattering instead that may also not very good, but also a matter of opinion and probably not actionable.

      It is not clear why it would be alright to say things which are explicitly untrue just because it fits with your general opinion of things. I would guess that Richard Barr is taking a view on this because there is apparently to be a British edition of the book and there has already been an American, so he knows what is in it. To the best of my knowledge there was no British edition of the earlier book so the question did not arise.

      • Chris
        March 6, 2011 at 9:32 pm

        To something he did say, and it was worse. Go figure.

        Do you mean this book:
        http://www.amazon.co.uk/Autisms-False-Prophets-Science-Medicine/dp/023114637X/

        Funny, it seems quite available, while Deadly Choices does not. Really, it was so easy to check.

        Also, you said earlier:

        Moreover, as pointed out below Prof Bustin conceded the validity of the O’Leary results under pressure at the Cedillo hearing,

        I am not going to read a secondary source on that, I want the actual testimony. Post the day and line number from the US Courts transcripts, which are here:
        ftp://autism.uscfc.uscourts.gov/autism/cedillo/transcripts/

      • Chris
        March 6, 2011 at 9:35 pm

        Aaagh, forgot to close blockquote… the last paragraph is not in the quote. But I still want the actual day and line number of the relevant testimony.

      • For the Record
        March 6, 2011 at 11:08 pm

        Chris

        I will have to take your word for whatever terrifying thing Offit said about JB Handley in his second edition. I do not collect versions of the book.

        As for Bustin 2046A (25)-2047 (8)and again pages 2055-7A. This is a blustery and confusing performance Bustin: when things get difficult he complains about his eyesight 2045A or that he does not understand the procedure, when he doesn’t seem to like the question 2056 (there is no procedural issue). Wriggly, I’d say, but confirming that the high copy numbers are reliable.

        ftp://autism.uscfc.uscourts.gov/autism/cedillo/transcripts/day08-cor.pdf

        It is certainly not easy to follow, but Yazbak is a serious critic to answer, a board registered paediatrician of many years standing and an expert witness in many court hearings, and Bustin has not disputed what he has said.

      • Chris
        March 7, 2011 at 2:49 am

        Thank you, I will look it up later.

        I am sorry, but I cannot take Yazbak seriously since he supported a baby murderer:
        http://www.ratbags.com/rsoles/comment/yurko.htm

        Vaccination reactions do not cause broken ribs, shaking babies cause broken ribs. If you wish to be taken at all seriously, stick to real evidence and refrain from using Yazbak, Buttram or anyone else who helped get a murderer off (though they did abandon him when he ended up in jail again).

      • Chris
        March 7, 2011 at 3:38 am

        Okay, I looked at it. Your criticisms are specious at best. I am offended that you take issue with him honestly explaining his eyesight, since I grew up being teased for the thickness of my glasses.

        The rest is just a fishing expedition and cherry picking. The next pages are going on how he is being paid, and there is some issue with him being a paid witness. I am afraid this falls short when they bring up witnesses like Kinsbourne (who had not seen patients in years), and the ever so amusing Vera Byers).

        And the procedure he did not understand was how to answer Chin-Caplan’s unclear questioning. Why do you think he should have familiarity with the legal system in another country.

        Also, Unigenetics has cleaned up its act. Which is why Dr. Mady Hornig used them when she attempted to recreate Wakefield’s study. Do you know what happened? Guess what was not found.

      • For the Record
        March 7, 2011 at 9:15 am

        Sorry Chris, that isn’t an answer it is waffle, and hearsay. The point is that even after slagging off O’Leary Bustin had to admit, rather reluctantly, that some of the positive results were valid. If it is cherry-picking to point that out I am cherry picking: it might be better than deciding the issue with a blanket ad hominem against O’Leary.

        Obviously, we have entirely different views on the Yurko case, but it is a red herring and ad hominem. If Bustin has a dispute with what Yazbak said let’s hear it from Bustin. I hear silence.

      • For the Record
        March 7, 2011 at 10:02 am

        PS For anyone interested in the science surrounding the Yurko case there is an informed discussion here:

        http://www.bmj.com/content/328/7442/719/reply#bmj_el_63802

        It beats histrionic, ad hominem denunciations of baby murderers any day.

      • Chris
        March 8, 2011 at 1:56 am

        A letter from Yazbak! Hahahahahaha! You are hilarious!

    • For the Record
      March 8, 2011 at 10:29 am

      Look Chris, is that the best you can do?

      While the letter from Yazbak is important I had intended to cite the entire correspondence (but BMJ’s layout presently means that you haver to link to specific letters). There are letters from a number of people, and the point is that it is the sort of serious and informed conversation about a medical issue of which you are incapable quoting sites like ‘ratbag’.

  24. Rob
    March 6, 2011 at 8:43 pm

    Cases reported to VAERS concerning MMR and an autism diagnosis do not stand up well as evidence for any other case. There is no requirement to actually scientifically prove that the vaccination caused the autism diagnosis.

  25. March 14, 2011 at 8:22 pm

    I would just like to say that as a direct result of this action I have bought a copy of Offit’s book, read it, and will be donating it to my local GP practice for their patient information library.

    Also the ASA have informally resolved a complaint against Barr’s website advert where he claimed that 300,000 people are victims of medical negligence every year; he no longer makes that claim.

    Maybe somewhere deep down is the core of a decent man concerned at what he sees, but his methods are unethical and he deserves to be called on that.

    • Jonny
      March 24, 2011 at 4:10 pm

      Same, i purchased this book as well from amazon the moment i finished this article, if anything to show support for Offit. It drives me insane thinking that anti-vaxxers can swan around spouting utter rubbish about the ‘danger’ of jabs, and despite the fact it angers me, and intelligent people can see it’s a load of rubbish, they get a free ride. Yet the moment someone with more than half a brain stands up and says something contradictory, the anti-vaxxers are up in arms screaming ‘libel!’, ‘conspiracy!’. Says alot about the mentaility of these people, yes, says what you like, but perish the thought someone with another opinion could do the same.

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