MMR/Autism-link Doctor Cleared of Wrong-doing

Something huge happened last week, in the ongoing saga around the doctors from the Royal Free Hospital in London, who published the now-infamous ‘MMR/autism’ paper. Despite the enormous publicity around the trial and consequent striking off of Dr Andrew Wakefield from the UK General Medical Council’s register of doctors in 2010, amid allegations of professional misconduct in the wake of the so-called ‘MMR/Autism study’, less press attention was given to the paper’s co-authors, including top gastroenterologist Dr John Walker-Smith. He was also accused of professional misconduct, and struck off the register in 2010.

While the majority of the co-authors of the 12-child case series withdrew their names from it long ago, and the Lancet retracted the paper, Drs Walker-Smith and Wakefield both maintained their innocence and integrity. A great hoo-ha erupted in the press following the trial of Dr Wakefield in particular, with victorious headlines everywhere denouncing the gastroenterologist as a fraud and a quack, and the vaccine absolutely safe – ignoring, of course, his decades of hard work and impeccable track record, the fact that the paper was not a study and does not state the vaccine causes autism (only that further research was needed), and the many thousands of parents who’ve watched their children suffer terrible reactions to MMR, and many other vaccines.

Funny, then, how little attention has been paid in the past week to Dr Walker-Smith, who appealed the judgement made against him in 2010. Last Wednesday, the High Court overturned the GMC’s ruling and he was reinstated to their register (although he did retire several years ago, regardless). The court admonished the behaviour of the GMC, and Walker-Smith was rightly vindicated and cleared of any wrong-doing. Will Dr Wakefield be next?

Here’s Walker-Smith’s statement following the ruling, and some interviews with ‘autism parents’ involved in the case (video from Autism Media Channel).