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The Malicious Smearing of a Crusading Doctor

March 14, 2009 | 335 views

The position of John Witherow, Chief Editor of the British newspaper The Sunday Times London, may be in jeopardy following an escalating debate over a story about anti-vaccine campaigner Dr. Andrew Wakefield. Freelance journalist Brian Deer’s shown-to-be-false story alleged that Wakefield “fixed” data in a Lancet medical journal paper to show a link between the MMR vaccine, autism and serious bowel disorders in children.

For the allegation in Deer’s story to be true meant that for 10 years, a single-handed action by Wakefield had to have gone completely unnoticed by the other 12 authors on the well-known paper.  While 10 of the authors have partially retracted the  suggested interpretation in the paper of a possible link between the MMR vaccine and autism, the bulk of the Lancet paper still stands and has been replicated in other scientific studies.

The Times also did not mention as part of the story that an investigation into Wakefield was in triggered by a complaint from Brian Deer himself, meaning that his article was a report on the hearing into his own complaint.

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