In January 2012 Andrew Wakefield, a British citizen residing in Texas, sued Brian Deer, a British journalist, the British Medical Journal (BMJ), and Dr. Fiona Godlee, the British editor of BMJ, in a Texas trial Court for libel. Wakefield claimed that a series of articles titled “Secrets of the MMR Scare” written by Brian Deer, edited by Fiona Godlee and published in the BMJ were defamatory. The articles detailed serious scientific misconduct by Andrew Wakefield.
The decision itself is focused on issues of civil procedure that may be less of interest to non-lawyers, though these issues are crucially important to litigants and lawyers. But this story is a good demonstration of strategic use of litigation by Andrew Wakefield and an opportunity to discuss the advantages and potential problems of that approach. Continue reading “Litigating as “debate” tactic? Wakefield appeal was denied”
Poor Andy. He writes a fraudulent article in The Lancet, which the prestigious journal eventually has to withdraw and his co-authors disown the same article. Brian Deer, a journalist for the Sunday Times of London, uncovers the fraud and publishes it in the British Medical Journal. Andy tries to sue Deer in UK courts, but essentially loses and has to pay all court costs and legal fees. Eventually, Andy is stripped of his medical license in the UK.
So, I guess the only choice of a fraud is to sue those who told the truth. Yes, this would be an ironic, even funny story, except for the deaths of children who should have been vaccinated against preventable diseases but weren’t because the parents heard about Andrew Wakefield’s fraudulent story.