On 19 July 2016, autism self-advocate Fiona O’Leary, an Irish mother of five children, two of them autistic – a powerful and long-time fighter against alternative treatments of autism and the myth that vaccines cause autism – posted a video to her Facebook page. In the 15-minute self-interview, Ms. O’Leary called out certain statements made by a team of the creators of the anti-vaccine “documentary” Vaxxed as they travel the United States, holding question and answers session with viewers. In response, the Vaxxed distributor threatened her.
What prompted Ms. O’Leary to speak out is that the Vaxxed team are forming groups to bring the film to Ireland and the UK. On July 19, Ms. O’Leary started a petition calling on the Texas Attorney General to act against the movie and the statements by its team. and published her Facebook video to YouTube.
On July 21, 2016 Phillippe Diaz, CEO of Cinema Libre, the company distributing Vaxxed worldwide, sent Ms. O’Leary a letter claiming that her statements were defamatory. Also, the Vaxxed distributor threatened her with a defamation lawsuit if she didn’t stop talking about Vaxxed and its team. The team includes disgraced former scientist turned film director Andrew Wakefield, producer Del Bigtree, and their associate Polly Tommey. There is no indication a lawyer saw the letter beforehand, though an attorney is copied.
On July 22, 2016, the Australian science blogger Reasonable Hank published six of the videos from the Vaxxed team, validating Mrs. O’Leary’s claim that the Vaxxed team has indeed made the reprehensible statements. Diaz’s letter is therefore clearly an attempt to intimidate Ms. O’Leary.
She interpreted the letter as a clear attempt to intimidate, as she explains in a second video.
This post will touch on some of the legal issues. Continue reading “Vaxxed distributor threatened Fiona O’Leary – they’re afraid of facts”