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Best of AofA: Brian Deer's Wakefield Soap Opera

Posted Nov 01 2011 12:00am

Drama We first ran this post in the Spring of 2010. Given recent developments we thought we'd run it again for you. To read more from the prolific Martin Walker, who has followed and recounted the GMC Hearing from start to finish please visit Slingshot Productions or use the Google search box on the left for "Martin Walker."

By Martin J Walker MA.

Oh yes I’m the great pretender (ooh ooh)
Pretending that I’m doing well (ooh ooh)
My need is such I pretend too much
Oh yes I’m the great pretender (ooh ooh)
Adrift in a world of my own (ooh ooh)
Too real is this feeling of make believe
Too real when I feel what my heart can't conceal

Buck Ram [1]

With the growth of corporations and democracy there came
a vast growth in corporate propaganda as a means of defending
corporate interests against democracy.

Alex Carey [2]

Without a story to explain ourselves we are nothing.

Tariq Miah [3]

Speaking to a well regarded European writer the other day, I heard the words, 'But Deer came from nowhere, he is not a journalist of any note, he is not really a journalist is he?' hearing this and other remarks, it can only be described as unfortunate that neither those who question vaccine safety or those of us who have campaigned for vaccine damaged children have made no real attempt to investigate Brian Deer's contact with the pharmaceutical industry. On occasions I have been disturbed by the off-the-cuff allegations and ad hominem attacks made against Deer, this is not because he is not the most loathsome of characters but because without real investigations and properly constructed evidence we will never be able to free ourselves from the lingering foul smell which emanates from his presence in this conflict.

Although the rebuttal of Deer's latest two deceitful articles in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) [4] have been interesting, few of them have added any new information about Deer or shed light upon the relationship which has existed between him and the conglomerate that is now GlaxoSmithKline. I believe that the key to Deer's continuing pathological character assassination of Dr Andrew Wakefield lies principally in his relationship with the original drug company the Wellcome Foundation and its partnering Trust, before the Trust was made independent and the Foundation was amalgamated first with Glaxo, then eventually merged as GlaxoSmithKline (GSK).

I began my involvement with the parents of vaccine damaged children in 2006 knowing slightly more about Deer than many other people. [5] In 1993, I published 'Dirty Medicine: Science, big business and the assault on natural health'. [6] This book which took me five years to research and write told the story of the beginnings of the pharmaceutical, medical and allopathic lobby organisations in Britain and the US. These groups emerged in the late 1980s at the centre of the last great medical controversy over the Wellcome Foundations production and marketing of the drug AZT.

This conflict was perhaps even bigger than that presently being waged over vaccine damage. Brian Deer then writing for the Sunday Times, wrote two very critical articles about the safety of AZT and the lack of science that accompanied trials of the drug. The drug company, the Wellcome Foundation and it's massive grant giving partner, the Wellcome Trust, were powerful enough to rain relentless pressure on the Sunday Times and it's editor Andrew Neil to ensure that Deer was admonished for his radicalism and Deer appeared to be sent to the US for a period to cool off. Deer's return to the UK, appeared to coincide with a further authoritative attack on the Wellcome Empire, accompanied with a parallel attack on Septrin, the anti-bacterial a Wellcome drug that had caused many deaths and countless thousands of adverse reactions.

I interviewed Deer for Dirty Medicine because of his expose of the lack of safety data on AZT Deer was then a hero of the anti-AZT campaign. I found him a not unpleasant interviewee, though somewhat dour and cynical, perhaps as well a little scared as we all were facing the might of an increasingly immoral pharmaceutical sector whose motto might have been 'anything goes'. Deer also had about him that contained and dark look of the post-university new left that was on the rise in the late nineteen eighties and early nineties and which included groups like the now neo-liberal Revolutionary Communist Party (RCP).

I had no contact with Deer until after the publication of my book. On his return from the US, he broke off contact with me by way of an abusive phone call. I had the distinct impression then I had been relegated to his past life. What had actually changed for him was difficult to discern, although one thing became clear with time. Although his stance against the errors of pharmaceutical companies and bad drugs, appeared to be more or less solid, he had definitely enlisted in the Wellcome-backed and the National Health Service (NHS), Labour Party based generic campaign in favour of mass vaccination. Contrary to what most commentators seem to believe now, by the mid-nineteen nineties, long before the attempt to destroy Andrew Wakefield, Brian Deer with the aid of the Sunday Times, was deconstructing the case of vaccine damage claimants.

The following essay looks at Deer over the period between 1989 and 2007, a period that leaves serious unanswered questions about the direction of Deer's life and work. It is my hope that in the future an investigative journalist of some standing or an official inquiry will unravel in greater detail the enigma of Deer's relationship with the pharmaceutical industry. It might, however, be to our advantage to build upon the following essay when writing about him in the future, rather than reinvent the wheel again next time he pops his head out of his warren. Presently our 'movement' appears to lack cohesive and integrated knowledge about 'the enemy', upon which we might build. I would be happy to add more referenced information to this essay, so developing it as an authoritative  source of information about Brian Deer. If they wish, anyone sending in substantial information to add to the essay, can be credited on the title page.

*     *     *

Brian Deer was studying for a Philosophy degree at the university of Warwick when in April 1975 a sit-in began. Deer was charged with breaking broke one of the windows in the senate House building so that students intent on occupying, could gain access. [7] The occupation was about increased rents for campus accommodation and Deer as an ex-member of the student executive committee and a radical was the first students to gain access to the Senate House building. Following the occupation a few students, including Deer were charged and stood 'trial' before the University Council, although found guilty, on appeal in 1976 the decision was reversed and no further action was taken against the defendants.

Warwick University came into being in1965. In its first few decades of life, its students were heavily involved in protest, rent strikes, and occupations which earned the University the nickname of 'Red Warwick.' The student body in the late 1970s, at Warwick, had extensive links with the emerging Revolutionary Communist Party (RCP) led by a sociology lecturer at the University f Kent. After a Labour party election victory in 1997, members of this 'revolutionary communist party' were to join up with Liberal Democrat Lords to manage the biggest UK lobby organisations on behalf of international pharmaceutical companies.

Having left Warwick Deer first became press officer and magazine editor for the leftist Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND). While  with CND, he was also active within the libertarian community of north London and with a number of other promising young writers and reporters who set up The Leveller, [8] a magazine that became notorious when it challenged the Official Secrets Act. In the early eighties Deer joined the Times and then moved on to the Sunday Times for which he has written ever since.

When Deer joined the Sunday Times Britain still had a relatively sceptical [9] investigating journalistic culture. The Sunday Time in particular, although a liberal paper seemingly having no specific argument with government or corporations, had become famous throughout the 1970s, for their far reaching investigation into the iatrogenic tragedy of Thalidomide and the avoidance of responsibility by its producing companies. [10] The Times had also been well regarded for their ground breaking expose of the massive Scotland Yard corruption scandal that swept through Londons CID, the vice squad and then the robbery squad between the 1960s and 1980s. [11]

At the Sunday Times in the early eighties, Deer found himself on the crest of a consumer wave, investigating various products and social situations, on his web site he describes himself as the first 'Social Affairs' reporter. Deer was good at his job, he had a congenial but serious personality and an ability to mix with people on the margins and write about them in a sympathetic manner. In 1989, however Deer, still campaigning for consumers, met a major career crisis.

Many commentators on the subject of the development of corporate power, consider that the most profound change in media culture occurred in the early 1990s when, initially, in the battle to develop and market drugs for AIDS related illness the pharmaceutical industry moved in to control research and University research funding in particular. Somewhere between Thalidomide and MMR, science and particularly medical science put itself in hock to the pharmaceutical industry. [12]

*     *     *

Martin J Walker is an investigative writer who has written several books about aspects of the medical industrial complex. He started focusing on conflict of interest, intervention by pharmaceutical companies in government and patient groups in 1993. Over the last four years he has been a campaign writer for the parents of MMR vaccine damaged children,
covering every day of the three year hearing of the General Medical Council that tried Dr Wakefield and two other doctors. His GMC accounts can be found at  http://www.cryshame.com/ , and his own website is, http://www.slingshotpublications.com/ .

The rest of The Great Pretender a 30 page essay can be obtained from Martin's web site at: http://slingshotpublications.com at a minimum cost of  £3.00/ $4.00. Around 10 other essays written over the period of the GMC hearing can also be obtained from the Slingshot website.

The two volumes of Silenced Witnesses, written by the Parents and edited by Martin Walker can also be obtained from his web site. All money from these books goes to the parents organisation Cry Shame. Vol II comes with a free copy of Alan Goldings film Selective Hearing.

Selective Hearing can also be seen for free
http://www.viddler.com/explore/ziggy/videos/1/

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=id_AxZ3zHAc

Anyone with with an interest in showing or distributing this film should contact Alan through the Slingshot website.

 


 

[1] First recorded by The Platters 1955

[2] Alex Carey. Taking the Risk out of Demcracy. University of Illinois Press. 1997.

[3] The character Tariq Miah inThe Disappeared. M. R. Hall. Macmillan 2010. Great Britain

[4] Secrets of the MMR scare, part 1: how the case against the MMR vaccine was fixed. BMJ 2011; 342:c5347 doi: 10.1136/bmj.c5347 (Published 5 January 2011),

Secrets of the MMR scare, part 2: How the vaccine crisis was meant to make money. BMJ 2011; 342:c5258 doi: 10.1136/bmj.c5258 (Published 11 January 2011)

[5] Much of what I knew I published in my essay The Complainant. Although this essay was spread quite widely, I found that little of it sank into the culture around the 'Wakefied case' and that which did was often quoted without reference by those intent on inventing the wheel over and again. One of my twice weekly reports on the three year GMC hearing of which I attended every day except one, 'Journalist with no medical training solves mystery of enterocolitis!' that reports on the matter of the prosecution claiming that the children in the Lancet paper were not ill can be read at:

http://www.wellsphere.com/autism-autism-spectrum-article/journalist-with-no-medical-training-solves-mystery-of-enterocolitis/1082282

while my whole episodic report over three years can be read at: http://www.cryshame.com

[6] Martin J Walker. Dirty Medicine: Science, big business and the assault on natural health. Slingshot Publications. 1993. e-copies of the book are available from:

http://www.slingshotpublications.com.

[7] Claire Fox (born 1960), a leading RCP and Living Marxism (LM) participant and one of the founder members of the Institute of Idea funded by Pfizer. With her older sister of Fiona Fox , one of the founder members of the Science Media Centre, she  attended University of Warwick , where she graduated with a lower second class degree (2:2) in literature . Claire Fox believes in freedom of speech in all circumstances — except those involving Dr Andrew Wakefield!

[8] The Leveller was a British political magazine, c.1976 to 1982, collectively produced by a shifting coalition of radicals, socialists, marxists, feminists, and others of the British left and progressive movements.

[9] Sceptical is the English spelling of this word, if I use Skeptical, I am referring to the US group which developed out of  CSICOP and which is now one of the most powerful pharmaceutical lobbies.

[10] It is instructive to compare Deer's biography with this one of  Phillip Knightley who was the first author of the Insight team's book Suffer the Children about their Thalidomide investigation. Special correspondent for The Sunday Times for twenty years (1965-85) and one of the leaders of its Insight investigative team, he was born in Australia but has spent most of his life in Britain. He was twice named British journalist of the year (1980 and 1988) and won the Overseas Press Club of America award in 1975 for the best book on foreign affairs, a history of war reporting and propaganda called The First Casualty. He has lectured on journalism, law and war at various British and American universities and for the International Committee of the Red Cross and the Royal Military Acadamy, Sandhurst. He was twice named Journalist of the Year (1980 and 1988) in the British Press Awards--apart from John Pilger, the only journalist ever to have won it twice, and the Overseas Press Club of America award for the best book on foreign affairs in 1975 (The First Casualty)

[11] The Fall of Scotland Yard, Barry Cox, John Shirley and Martin Short. Penguin. 1977

[12] See Linda Marsa, Prescription for Profits: How the pharmaceutical industry benakrolled the unholy marriage between science and business. Chapter 9 tells what happened to Peter Duesburg when he voiced his scientific conclusions about HIV.

Posted by Age of Autism at November 26, 2011 at 5:45 AM in Dr. Andrew Wakefield Permalink

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