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Walker-Smith wins appeal

Posted Mar 07 2012 8:55am

Prof. John Walker-Smith was one of Andrew Wakefield’s colleagues at the Royal Free and participated in the research there. Prof. Walker-Smith was struck off the medical register along with Andrew Wakefield by the General Medical Council. Prof. Walker-Smith appealed and the GMC’s decision has been quashed.

Here is the conclusion of the appeal decision :

For the reasons given above, both on general issues and the Lancet paper and in relation to individual children, the panel’s overall conclusion that Professor Walker-Smith was guilty of serious professional misconduct was flawed, in two respects: inadequate and superficial reasoning and, in a number of instances, a wrong conclusion. Miss Glynn submits that the materials which I have been invited to consider would support many of the panel’s critical findings; and that I can safely infer that, without saying so, it preferred the evidence of the GMC’s experts, principally Professor Booth, to that given by Professor Walker-Smith and Dr. Murch and by Dr. Miller and Dr. Thomas. Even if it were permissible to perform such an exercise, which I doubt, it would not permit me to rescue the panel’s findings. As I have explained, the medical records provide an equivocal answer to most of the questions which the panel had to decide. The panel had no alternative but to decide whether Professor Walker-Smith had told the truth to it and to his colleagues, contemporaneously. The GMC’s approach to the fundamental issues in the case led it to believe that that was not necessary – an error from which many of the subsequent weaknesses in the panel’s determination flowed. It had to decide what Professor Walker-Smith thought he was doing: if he believed he was undertaking research in the guise of clinical investigation and treatment, he deserved the finding that he had been guilty of serious professional misconduct and the sanction of erasure; if not, he did not, unless, perhaps, his actions fell outside the spectrum of that which would have been considered reasonable medical practice by an academic clinician. Its failure to address and decide that question is an error which goes to the root of its determination.

The panel’s determination cannot stand. I therefore quash it. Miss Glynn, on the basis of sensible instructions, does not invite me to remit it to a fresh Fitness to Practice panel for redetermination. The end result is that the finding of serious professional misconduct and the sanction of erasure are both quashed.

From The Telegraph’s MMR doctor wins battle against being struck off :

A doctor found guilty of serious professional misconduct over the MMR controversy has won his High Court appeal against being struck off.


Chief executive Niall Dickson added: “Today’s ruling does not however reopen the debate about the MMR vaccine and autism.

“As Mr Justice Mitting observed in his judgement, ‘There is now no respectable body of opinion which supports (Dr Wakefield’s) hypothesis, that MMR vaccine and autism/enterocolitis are causally linked’.

  1. John Gilmore:
  2. century:
    No written diarrhoea, Sullivan? Maybe you should offer an apology to Prof W-S!!
  3. Sullivan:
    Odd statement--I just put up a blog post about it. Do you want commentary? 1) Wakefield might be kicking himself for not appealing. There has been at least one other GMC appeal that went through where the court chastised the GMC for not giving enough explanation of their reasoning. 2) Much of the decision for Prof. Walker-Smith has to do with the argument that the GMC didn't discern what his intent was--what he was thinking. From the Irish Independent:
    It had to decide what Professor Walker-Smith thought he was doing. If he believed he was undertaking research in the guise of clinical investigation and treatment, he deserved the finding that he had been guilty of serious professional misconduct and the sanction of erasure.
    That is not the case with Andrew Wakefield. Clearly he had intent to do research without ethical approval. The famous birthday party episode is a clear example of that. His hidden conflicts of interest--working as an expert for the LAB and business interests--as well add to the evidence. 3) Mr. Wakefield's other transgressions include taking actions of a clinician when his appointment prohibited them. 4) I disagree with the court's finding that the evidence was equivocal as to whether procedures such as lumbar punctures were warranted. This is not and has not been a standard proceedure. When Prof. Berelowitz testified he noted that many papers used lumbar punctures but when pressed, admitted that these were only for research. 5) I would love to hear what Prof. Walker-Smith has to say about the entirety of the experience. In specific, how he feels about Andrew Wakefield declaring that he (AW) wanted the GMC hearing only later to say he no longer needs registration and then to give an incredibly weak defense. And how he feels about the way Mr. Wakefield conducted himself at the Royal Free and later. I haven't had time to read the decision thoroughly, but those are some of my immediate thoughts. If that fits your definition of "speechless" then you have a different definition than mine.
  4. Sullivan:
    century, I guess I am not allowed to put up a brief article. I have rarely written about Prof. Walker-Smith. As I just wrote, I disagree (as a layman, of course) that the lumbar punctures were clinically indicated in all the cases, for example. That said, I appreciate that he, through his attorney, has made it clear that the MMR hypothesis of Andrew Wakefield's is not supported by respectable medical opinion.
  5. joejoe:
    Ha, Ha, Ha, SOOOOOOO toxic vaccines do cause autism Ha, Ha, Ha,!

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