Guardian of What? The Guardian, the Science Lobby, and the Rise of Scientific Corporatism.
Posted May 12 2009 12:00am
By Martin J Walker
Denis Campbell was a sports reporter on the Observer newspaper, before he got the opportunity to write about health. In July 2007, he favoured a friend and interviewed Dr Andrew Wakefield, the consultant gastroenterologist at the centre of the MMR-autism controversy, the week prior to his GMC fitness-to-practice hearing. It was Campbell’s intention to present Dr Wakefield in the same way as any other pre-trial defendant, exploring his fears and feelings about slipping from a professional life into that of an infamous malefactor. In creating the article, however, Campbell, who had never entered the territory before, made the most serious mistake. Hearing of a paper produced by a department of Cambridge University that cited a considerable growth in cases of autism spectrum disorder, he linked this to Wakefield’s research work, which described a number of specific cases where the parents had pointed to the MMR vaccination as being key in the onset of a very particular form of regressive autism.