Andrew Wakefield scores 6/5 on our Quack Scale. We consider him to be the ultimate quack and medical con artist, representative of everything a good physician strives not to be. He is the ultimate predatory health practitioner and the list of evidence against him is both damningly long and as it is irrefutable. He is guilty of professional misconduct, deception, wilful, and otherwise and had been stripped of his medical license. The litany of evidence we will present below will be more than sufficient to allow you to form a proper opinion of him and will expose the weak, unethical and dishonest character of Andrew Wakefield. He is neither qualified nor properly licensed to dispense medical advice or opinions relating to healthcare.
If you’re not sure how our Quack Scale works, click here for a detailed explanation
Qualification: Wakefield studied medicine at St Mary’s Hospital Medical School (now Imperial College School of Medicine), fully qualifying in 1981. He became a fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons in 1985.
Current Licensing Status: In 2010 Wakefield was permanently stripped of his right to practice medicine in the United Kingdom by the British General Medical Council
Existing Complaints: None. Wakefield fortunately no longer practices medicine and is not licensed in the US
Corruption and deceit exposed
Andrew Wakefield is the disgraced British doctor who fabricated evidence, published in the respected medical journal The Lancet in 1998, to make a link between the MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella) vaccine and autism in young children, triggering a worldwide panic about the safety of vaccination. To explain this in more depth, I’ll reference large sections of an article written by Decca Aitkenhead of the Weekend Australian. You can access the full article here and it is an excellent read, providing insight into Wakefield’s personality and motivations.
The falsified paper
Wakefield claimed that, by an uncanny coincidence, 12 unrelated sets of parents from all over the country had independently brought their child to see him. According to the paper, parent after parent had told him a chillingly similar story: within 14 days — and in some cases within hours — of receiving the MMR vaccine, their hitherto developmentally normal child was displaying symptoms of severe autism. The truth of what actually transpired was vastly different from Wakefield’s initial claims.
What Wakefield had concealed from his colleagues, including co-authors of the paper, was that these parents had been referred to him by a personal injury lawyer with whom he was secretly working. Wakefield was essentially running a litigation factory at the Royal Free, fabricating evidence for a class-action suit against the MMR vaccine. He was receiving a fortune in funding for his “research” from the lawyer, thanks to the Legal Aid Board. And he stood to profit from his research’s conclusion that separate jabs for measles, mumps, and rubella were a safer alternative to the combined MMR, since he was busy patenting his own single-shot measles vaccine.
Most of this information would have remained hidden and Wakefield may very well have escaped detection had it not been for a journalist, Brian Deer, who smelled a rat and pursued Wakefield remorselessly. Wakefield then made a strategic blunder deciding to sue Deer unsuccessfully, for libel. In the end, this action proved his undoing. The court case gave Deer access to the confidential records of the patients involved and it was easily determined that some of the children had indeed displayed symptoms long before they were vaccinated and in some cases, months after.
The Charismatic Conman
To understand how Wakefield could survive the consequences of public embarrassment and humiliation and thrive in the face of his self-inflicted adversity, it’s worthwhile understanding the man himself. He is as charismatic as he is deceptive and his charms have stood him in good stead, allowing him to call on the support of women in various roles throughout his life. His game plan of painting himself as the victim of institutional crucifixion has paid handsome dividends, enabling him to mislead one person after another.
Among the supportive donors who encouraged Wakefield’s US revival after his flight from the UK, Chicago lawyer Elizabeth Birt, who raised the money for him to start a new life and sponsored his US visa, wealthy horsewoman Troylyn Ball, and Jane Johnson of the Johnson & Johnson pharmaceutical family; Ball and Johnson set him up in a $280,000-a-year job created just for him. In November 2017, at an anti-vaccine event in Florida, Wakefield was introduced to Elle Macpherson. The rest, as they say, is history.
Wakefield has turned himself into vaccine medicine’s self-styled martyr claiming he was silenced by the British establishment for exposing the “truth”. Its been a massively successful strategy. The 63-year-old conman is now feted by conspiracy theorists and anti-vaxxers alike. He was a guest at Donald Trump’s inauguration ball and enjoys close relationships with Robert F Kennedy Jnr, Del Bigtree, and the autism anti-vaxxer, Polly Tommey, one of his first ‘disciples’.
For a far more detailed analysis of Wakefield’s life, click here
Why Wakefield lost his medical license
After a painfully thorough three-year investigation, the British General Medical Council (GMC) uncovered shocking aspects of Wakefield’s abuse of his medical credentials and position that left them in no doubt as to their course of action. Wakefield was stripped of his right to practice medicine in the United Kingdom.
Charges leveled at Wakefiled suggested he;
- Was being paid to conduct the study by solicitors representing parents who believed their children had been harmed by MMR
- Ordered investigations “without the requisite pediatric qualifications” including colonoscopies, colon biopsies and lumbar punctures (“spinal taps”) on his research subjects without the approval of his department’s ethics board and contrary to the children’s clinical interests, when these diagnostic tests were not indicated by the children’s symptoms or medical history.
- Act[ed] dishonestly and irresponsibly in failing to disclose … how patients were recruited for the study
- Conduct[ed] the study on a basis not approved by the hospital’s ethics committee.
- Purchased blood samples — for £5 each — from children present at his son’s birthday party, which Wakefield joked about in a later presentation.
- Showed callous disregard for any distress or pain the children might suffer
On 28 January 2010, the GMC ruled against Wakefield on all issues, stating that he had “failed in his duties as a responsible consultant”, acted against the interests of his patients, and “dishonestly and irresponsibly” in his controversial research. On 24 May 2010, he was struck off the United Kingdom medical register. It was the harshest sanction that the GMC could impose, and effectively ended his career as a doctor. In announcing the ruling, the GMC said that Wakefield had;
“brought the medical profession into disrepute,” and no sanction short of erasing his name from the register was appropriate for the “serious and wide-ranging findings” of misconduct
On the money front
- In December 2006, Deer released records obtained from the Legal Services Commission, showing that it had paid £435,643 in undisclosed fees to Wakefield for the purpose of building a case against the MMR vaccine. Those payments, The Sunday Times reported, had begun two years before the publication of Wakefield’s fraudulent paper inThe Lancet. Wakefield had failed to disclose these payments.
- Wakefield applied for a patent on a single-jab measles vaccine before his campaign against the MMR vaccine, raising questions about his motives. Deer discovered this application, despite assurances from Wakefield’s attorneys that no such application was lodged.
- Wakefield also, according to court documents, improperly or dishonestly lent his reputation to the International Child DevelopmentResource Centre, which promoted to very vulnerable parents expensive products for whose efficacy (as he knew or should have known) there was no scientific evidence. No mention is made of money here, but it was clearly a quid pro quo arrangement.
Experimenting on vulnerable children
This is perhaps the most repulsive part of Wakefield’s past and points to an individual with complete disregard for human life, someone woefully unsuited to a career in medicine or in any field relating to public health.
- An extension of his project caused life-threatening complications in one child, who received substantial compensation in an out-of-court settlement. You can read the full article here, written by Rachel Ellis Ellis and published 10 December 2007. “£500,000 for boy left fighting for life after being used as MMR guinea pig”
- As mentioned, evidence he himself validated emerged that he had “bought blood” at £5 a turn from children attending his son’s birthday party.
- Other instances exist of unsanctioned procedures he performed, these can readily be googled.
Dishonest or deluded?
Without a doubt, calculatingly dishonest. The level of manipulation and fraud involved with Wakefield’s fictitious paper are a clear indicator he was under no illusions induced by poor research but wilfully intended to support his own preconceived narrative for personal gain. A few of the lies identified in the paper included the following.
- Three of nine children reported with regressive autism did not have autism diagnosed at all. Only one child clearly had regressive autism;
- Despite the paper claiming that all 12 children were “previously normal”, five had documented preexisting developmental concerns;
- Some children were reported to have experienced first behavioral symptoms within days of MMR, but the records documented these as starting some months after vaccination;
- In nine cases, unremarkable colonic histopathology results — noting no or minimal fluctuations in inflammatory cell populations — were changed after a medical school “research review” to “non-specific colitis”;
- The parents of eight children were reported as blaming MMR, but 11 families made this allegation at the hospital. The exclusion of three allegations — all giving times to onset of problems in months — helped to create the appearance of a 14-day temporal link;
- Patients were recruited through anti-MMR campaigners, and the study was commissioned and funded for planned litigation.
In a statement from British Medical Journal (BMJ) editors, this conclusion;
A great deal of thought and effort must have gone into drafting the paper to achieve the results he wanted: the discrepancies all led in one direction; misreporting was gross. Moreover, although the scale of the GMC’s 217 day hearing precluded additional charges focused directly on the fraud, the panel found him guilty of dishonesty concerning the study’s admissions criteria, its funding by the Legal Aid Board, and his statements about it afterwards.
Deer also further reported, based on documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, that Wakefield — in partnership with the father of one of the boys in the study — had planned to launch a venture on the back of an MMR vaccination scare that would profit from new medical tests and “litigation driven testing”.
Wakefield predicted he “could make more than $43 million a year from diagnostic kits” for the new condition, autistic enterocolitis, he was set upon creating. According to Deer’s report in BMJ, the ventures, Immunospecifics Biotechnologies Ltd and Carmel Healthcare Ltd — named after Wakefield’s wife — failed after Wakefield’s superiors at University College London’s medical school gave him a two-page letter stating the following;
We remain concerned about a possible serious conflict of interest between your academic employment by UCL, and your involvement with Carmel … This concern arose originally because the company’s business plan appears to depend on premature, scientifically unjustified publication of results, which do not conform to the rigorous academic and scientific standards that are generally expected
It is impossible to come away from all this damning evidence without forming the following opinion. Far from being a victim of ‘establishment ire’ as Wakefield would have you believe, it is clear that he is in fact exactly the opposite.
Andrew Wakefield is a cold, calculating con artist with a medical degree. He willfully misled the public, has endangered thousands of children’s lives by casting doubt on vaccines, and has manipulated his environment and everyone in his immediate sphere of influence for his own personal, financial gain. As unpleasant a person as one could hope to cross paths with and we owe Brian Deer a great deal of gratitude for the copious time and effort he has invested in exposing the real Andrew Wakefield.
To those who choose to associate with Wakefield, I would urge caution. The truth has a nasty habit of turning on those who choose to ignore it and if you’re sitting around the pool sipping martini’s with Mr. Wakefield, you’ve chosen to ignore it or you are simply no better than he.
Vaxxed, or ‘How to profit from deception’
Assert something over and over in public and it must be true, even if it is glaringly apparent it isn’t. It’s a page right out of Donald Trump’s playbook and a tactic Wakefield has combined with his charismatic personality. Had he been born in America, Wakefield could very well have ended up on the next Republican ticket, such is the extent of his ability to deflect, obfuscate and manipulate the truth for his own personal and financial gain.
Vaxxed, released in 2016 was Wakefield’s first attempt to take things up a notch, having built a circle of relative protection around himself in his adopted homeland. He turned to Polly Tommey, one of his most devout disciples and fervent supporters, to appear in the video. She had followed closely on Wakefield’s heels, abandoning the UK for American soil and by no small coincidence, was also located in Texas. Tommey was ably supported in the movie by fellow anti-vaxxers, a complete list is shown below.
Vaxxed is a pseudoscience propaganda documentary film alleging a cover-up by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) of a purported link between the MMR vaccine and autism. The film was supposed to debut at the Tribeca Film festival but was withdrawn by the festival organizers. Indiewire said in a review of the film at the time;
“Wakefield doesn’t just have a dog in this fight; he is the dog”
The film was produced by Autism Media Channel, of which Wakefield is a director. Unsurprisingly, Del Bigtree was listed as a producer. After the film was dropped from the Tribeca Film Festival, it was picked up for distribution by Cinema Libre. The film premiered at the Angelika Film Center in New York City on April 1, 2016 to an audience of “a few dozen. There are multiple reliable online resources that discredit the movie, highlighting the obvious deception and bare-faced lies it offers by way of storyline. You can read more on that here and here.
Perhaps the best reason not to watch this propaganda rubbish is best encapsulated by this fantastic ani-flyer produced by Dawn Pederson and shown below. You can download this as a PDF here. Vaxxed should be seen for exactly what it is. A pathetic attempt by Wakefield to revive his failing fortunes and his stooges and lackeys that assist him so willingly will live to regret it. Ask his previous research assistants.
We are indebted to Brian Deer for his tireless efforts to ensure the truth about Andrew Wakefield was revealed. He has released a book on the sordid case entitled ‘The Doctor who fooled the world’. Brian’s website can be found here
Andrew Wakefield’s images are all used in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, commonly known as “fair use law”. This material is distributed without profit with the intent to provide commentary, review, education, and increase public health knowledge.