If Polly Tommey owned a medical qualification of any sort, it would have been stripped away years ago. The fact is though, she doesn’t. She’s educated herself, her study materials drawn for the dark world of pseudo-science, conspiracies, and falsified or misinterpreted data and research. She is a gullible, self-’educated’, self-appointed marketing mouthpiece for pseudo-science and a person with no clear understanding of the materials she seeks to discredit. If she does understand the material, this makes her even more complicit in misleading the public. Her motivations don’t appear centered around improving the lot of autistic children (her son has autism), but rather the pursuit of her own fame and financial gain. Financial gain which, on closer inspection, appears considerable.
Who is Polly Tommey?
Tommy was a former body double for actor Charlotte Rampling and rose to prominence highlighting autism. Her Linkedin profile describes her as Editor in Chief of Autism File magazine, founder of The Autism Trust, and director of Autism Media Channel. She is vocally outspoken on a number of medical issues, some of which border on conspiracy, and most of which are based on either pseudoscience or disproven fallacies. She is also a known purveyor of autism quackery.
Her obsession with vaccines and trying unsuccessfully to link them to autism has led her to become a crusading convert for the likes of disgraced doctor, Andrew Wakefield. To understand where Tommey left the path of rational fact-based reason for the rocky road of fake science, we need to first examine Andrew Wakefield.
Andrew Wakefield is a disgraced English doctor who published a controversial research paper in 1998 claiming a causal link between the MMR vaccine and autism. He was forced to withdraw the paper and admit to having falsified the data it contained. The paper was simply a fabrication, one Wakefield had created to try and substantiate his unfounded theory of a link between autism and vaccines.
Wakefield’s public acknowledgment of having falsified the paper was followed by a humiliating medical hearing over a period of three years. What the hearing discovered was massively concerning and showed Wakefield for the unethical and unprincipled person he is. The panel ruled that Wakefield repeatedly breached the fundamental principles of research medicine during the course of the study, which it said involved carrying out unnecessary and invasive tests on children without official permission. In 2010 he was stripped of his right to practice medicine.
One incident that garnered a great deal of attention was a birthday party in which Wakefield admittedly took blood samples from a group of children, rewarding them with £5 each, an act that “showed callous disregard for any distress or pain the children might suffer,”
Wakefield disappeared into temporary obscurity, resurfacing again on the American anti-vax circuit, where he is entertained by Republicans that foster conspiracy theories and have links to radical organizations. It is ironic that an individual found guilty of unsanctioned medical experimentation on children should be seen as a champion of children’s rights. His agenda appealed to Tommey. She became one of his most devout supporters, absorbing and spreading his self acknowledged lies surrounding the MMR vaccine.
Tommey soon abandoned the limited UK market for America, following in the footsteps of Wakefield. Eager to expand her impact and reach, the booming, mostly unregulating alt-health market of the US offered prime pickings. She relocated from the UK to Austin, in Texas from where she continues to promote her alternate health mumbo jumbo and anti-vaccine lies, through platforms like the Children’s Health Defense website and an active following on social media.
Autism, the Autism ‘Trust’ and deadly advice
Tommey founded the Autism Trust UK in 2007 after her son was diagnosed with the condition. Its purported goals are’ to provide education, support, and skills training for adults with autism. Tommey is still listed as one of the charity’s trustees on the Charity Commission website, although she now lives in Austin, Texas, according to the charity. A quick check of the Trust website confirms this.
In 2017, Third Sector posted an article entitled “Regulator contacts Autism Trust after media stories on ‘dangerous treatments” which explores a story first broken by the Times and pursued by Buzzfeed.
The article followed a news story in The Times newspaper on 2 February of the same year, which described the charity’s founder Polly Tommey of being “at the forefront of the dangerous anti-vaccine campaign” after she produced Vaxxed, a film repeating the now-discredited link between the MMR vaccine and autism. The Buzzfeed article claimed the following.
The Buzzfeed article said the charity’s Twitter and Facebook accounts linked to various websites that promote treatments for autism. These included: GcMAF, a stem-cell blood treatment; Mineral Miracle Solution, a chlorine-based bleach; chelation, which is the chemical removal of heavy metals from the bloodstream; and vitamin B12 injections
The UK’s largest autism charity, the National Autistic Society, has described MMS as a “bleach banned for human consumption”, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency has warned people not to use GcMAF, and the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence explicitly warns that chelation and B12 injections should not be used as core autism treatments.
The NAS has also said it is clear that there is no link between MMR vaccines and autism.
According to the Buzzfeed article, many of the links that appear on the charity’s social media go to Autism Mothers, a Facebook page started by Tommey that contains links to various websites promoting such treatments and claiming that there are links between MMR vaccines and autism.
In response to the allegations, Tommey had the following to say in a Periscope video, which appeared on the charity’s Twitter page. In it, she said she was not involved in the day-to-day running of the charity, repeatedly denied knowing what GcMAF and Mineral Miracle Solution were, and said people on the Autism Mothers page were free to post any links they wanted to share.
Clear lies. Any person actively engaged in the autism community as she claims to be would know of the darker side of autism, of the quackery and concoctions offered to a gullible and desperate public. We call you out Ms. Tommey, either you’re an autism expert, or you aren’t? Which is it? Don’t bother answering, the question is rhetorical.
Tommey earns her pound of flesh or commission for all the referrals, and the practice continues. Public censure simply drives these groups underground, to closed Whatsapp and Facebook groups. The income stream is lucrative, hugely so in some cases and individuals like Tommey, Roby Mitchell (aka Dr. Fitt) and others are not going to abandon their exploitation of a hugely vulnerable segment of the population simply because of a little public censure.
Activists and campaigners who try to combat the poisoning and abuse of autistic children by individuals like Tommey are all too familiar with her name.
In terms of the Autism Trust, the question is a simple one. Can it be trusted? The answer would seem self-explanatory. Any desire to actually assist and further the causes of autistic adults would require an immediate and permanent act of separation from Polly Tommey. Until this occurs, any and all activities engaged in by the trust would need to be viewed as extremely suspect.
In a 2018 article in Left Brain Right Brain, a science-based autism publication, Matt Carey wrote an article highlighting just how profitable Tommeys little side hustle had become. For relevance, Carey holds a Ph.D. in physics and has been an active researcher for 30 years. More importantly, he is the parent of an autistic child. The title hints loudly at where the article leads. VAXXED pulled in over $1.3M in donations, and most of it went to Wakefield and Tommey’s company
A few years ago Andrew Wakefield (one of Time Magazine’s Great Science Frauds) headed a team promoting a faux documentary called “Vaxxed”. I wrote about this film a great deal at the time, but suffice it to say it exemplified much of what is wrong with the way the anti-vaccine community uses and abuses the autism community.
If memory serves, VAXXED concluded with a long list of sponsors. So they apparently had a fair amount of money to work with to produce the film. The film was a product of the Autism Media Channel, which is a limited liability corporation (LLC) owned by Polly Tommey and Andrew Wakefield, based on tax records. At the same time, Vaxxed was associated with a charity: AMC Foundation. Said foundation is run by Andrew Wakefield with Polly Tommey and Brian Burrowes also listed as directors (at least on past tax forms).
Vaxxed came out in 2016, and nonprofit tax forms for 2016 are now public. Here are the tax forms for 2015 and 2016:
Please refer to the linked article above to see exactly how most of the charitable donations received were sidelined for the benefit of Tommey and Wakefield.
Children’s Health Defense (CHD)
The brainchild of Robert F. Kennedy, Jnr, this website’s main focus is on discrediting traditional vaccine science and has of late expanded its reach to spread misinformation on the covid pandemic. For Tommey, hooking up with CHD was a no-brainer. Bigger names and broader agendas would lend her more credibility and expand her reach and popularity. She has been warmly embraced by CHD and is now part of their disinformation machine.
In the last two days, New York State Senator Brad Hoylman (D/WF-Manhattan), Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, has called on Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey to permanently suspend Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s Twitter account (@RobertKennedyJr) and the organization he founded and chairs, Children’s Health Defense (@ChildrensHD), for repeatedly spreading misinformation about the efficacy and safety of COVID-19 vaccines as evidence of a new surge of COVID-19 grows in the northeast and in other parts of the country. According to the Senator;
“Now, it’s more important than ever to recognize Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. for what he is: A public health menace who should be banned from Twitter.”
Tommey shares the CHD spotlight with other well know quacks and medical charlatans, including the likes of Joseph Mercola, Zach Bush, and individuals like the disgraced Andrew Wakefield. She enjoys a regular video slot on the platform, a summary of the week’s “manipulated news” that she co-hosts with Mary Holland. If you’re left with a feeling of two neighbors discussing world politics across their garden fence, then you’re pretty close to the format. Lots of opinions and the few facts offered are distorted to suit their anti-vaccine agenda.
Kennedy’s association with these groups and individuals remains puzzling as he has achieved groundbreaking success in the environmental field against commercial interests like Monsanto and joining forces with individuals like Tommey and doctors disavowed for experimenting on children will do nothing to further his causes.
Can Tommey be trusted?
If you’re still in doubt, the answer is a resounding no. Her so-called ‘medical’ advice and interpretation of facts and research are based on falsehoods and lies and either ignorance or willful intent to mislead for financial gain. Our research tends to indicate the latter, but we’ll allow her the benefit of the doubt. What is glaringly clear though is that if you accept any advice from Polly Tommey that is health-related you are endangering yourself and your children.
If your child has autism, you’d be well advised to tune out, switch off or click back to escape the quackery of Polly Tommey. While she may not be medically qualified, she epitomizes the characteristics of a predatory health practitioner. Unfollow, unlike, and de-platform her wherever possible.
Polly Tommey 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.