One for the Annals of Brazen Effrontery – Andrew Wakefield sues the BMJ for claiming his MMR study was fraudulent.
In a complaint filed to a district court in Texas, lawyers acting for Wakefield claim that articles, editorials and other statements that appeared in the BMJ were “false and make defamatory allegations” about the doctor.
The lawsuit names Fiona Godlee, the BMJ’s editor-in-chief, and the British investigative journalist Brian Deer, who has covered the controversy over the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine, which led to a drop in MMR vaccination rates to dangerous levels.
In a statement, the BMJ and Deer said they awaited formal service of the papers, but stood by the articles and had instructed lawyers to defend the claim vigorously.
Wakefield has taken legal action against Deer before. He sued the journalist, along with Channel 4 and 20/20 productions, over a documentary on MMR in 2004, but later dropped the action and agreed to pay legal costs.
Ah, so he’s not a newbie to the Annals of Brazen Effrontery.
Wakefield’s case before the General Medical Council lasted 217 days, making it the longest in the regulator’s history. The GMC panel found Wakefield guilty of serious professional misconduct in May 2010 on several charges relating to research involving 12 autistic children published in the Lancet medical journal in February 1998.
The regulator said Wakefield abused his position, subjected children to invasive procedures that were not justified or ethically approved, and brought the profession into disrepute. The study, which linked the MMR vaccination to autism and bowel problems, was retracted by the Lancet in light of the GMC judgement.
Fears over a possible link between the MMR jab and autism led to a substantial drop in take-up of the vaccine. In 2004, only 80% of children received the triple jab, far short of the 95% required to achieve the “herd immunity” that prevents disease taking hold in a community.
Yet he is suing. People are strange.
In a statement, the BMJ said: “The BMJ is on notice that Andrew Wakefield has issued defamation proceedings, not in London as might be ordinarily expected as concerns a predominately English publication, but in Texas, USA, where he now lives.
“Following the findings of the British General Medical Council’s Fitness to Practice Panel and Mr Wakefield’s history of pursuing unfounded litigation, any action brought against the BMJ and Mr Deer in London would have been immediately vulnerable to being struck out as an abuse of process.”
The statement continued: “Despite the findings of the GMC’s Fitness to Practice Panel and his co-authors having publicly retracted the causation interpretation put forward by the Lancet Paper, it would appear from the Claim filed at court that Mr Wakefield still stands by the accuracy of the Lancet paper and his conclusion therein, thereby compounding his previously found misconduct.”
That’s interesting, isn’t it. He’s compounding his previously found misconduct. Man, people are strange.