Sunday, March 15, 2009

Dr Wakefield's Formal Complaint Against Journalist Brian Deer

Some bloggers and mainstream media took as gospel, as decided fact, the allegations made against Dr. Andrew Wakefield by journalist Brian Deer in the Sunday Times (UK) last month. The article ran the week prior to the Vaccine Court's omnibus ruling in three cases involving allegations that vaccines caused autism and only 24 hours after Dr Wakefield claims he was informed of the story allegations. As reported by David Kirby at the Huffington Post, Dr. Wakefield has now filed a formal complaint against Mr Deer with the UK Press C0mplaints Commission. It should be must reading especially for those who accepted as decided facts the allegations made in the article.

Dr. Wakefield deals with the allegations in very specific, documented detail. As a lawyer who is regularly concerned with issues of fairness, proper notice and due process I am disgusted that a story such as Mr Deer's would run only 24 hours after giving notice to the person against whom the allegations are made. To make it worse the allegations were made against a person involved in a proceeding involving the same matters, a proceeding in which the journalist who wrote the article has been a key participant.

Some bloggers and mainstream journalists who accused Dr. Wakefield of data manipulation based on Mr. Deer's article may want to read Dr. Wakefield's complaint against Mr. Deer. They might also want to consider extending an apology to Dr. Wakefield.

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Anonymous said...

Filing a complaint is just so much "Gorilla Dust". If Deer wasn't accurate, then Wakefield should file a libel/slander claim as the UK laws are very much weighted towards the complainant. I don't suspect Wakefield will do that though because he'll come up short and have to shell out more money to Deer. I'm surprised, as an attorney you didn't pick up on this.

Unknown said...


I am not impressed by your legal strategy argument. Dr. Wakefield has chosen a process by which his complaints can be addressed.

He has also provided very specific, documented rebuttal to Mr. Deer's allegations. He has put that rebuttal on the World Wide Web where Mr Deer can also reply ... and either put up or .... slink away into anonymity.

And some of the facts speak for themselves Mr Deer was writing about an active case involving Dr Wakefield in which Mr Deer is also a participant. That seems questionable on its face.

That Mr Deer and the Sunday Times published within 24 hours makes it appear they had no intention of allowing Dr Wakefield an opportunity to explore the allegations and provide the type of informed rebuttal that he now provides.

I can't claim to be surprised by an anonymous poster who avoids addressing the issues raised.

Did you bother to read Dr. Wakefield's complaint against Mr Deer?