'Misconduct' inquiry for doctor in MMR scare

GMC to investigate 'conflict of interest'. Urgency required, says Health Secretary

The doctor who linked the MMR vaccination to autism is to be investigated for alleged professional misconduct, it emerged last night.

Dr Andrew Wakefield, whose research suggesting the link prompted one of Britain's biggest health scares, is to be interviewed by the General Medical Council (GMC) this week.

John Reid, the Secretary of State for Health, had called for the investigation as a "matter of urgency" after it emerged that the doctor had failed to declare a financial interest when he submitted his research for publication. The Government, however, is pressure to order a full independent inquiry into how the research was carried out, funded and published.

The editor of The Lancet, Dr Richard Horton, admitted that the research would not have been published if it had been known that Dr Wakefield was also working for lawyers preparing a legal action by parents who believed that the jab had caused their children's autism. Hesaid the disclosure, admitted by Dr Wakefield, amounted to a "fatal conflict of interest" and that his key finding was "entirely flawed".

The author's research fund received £55,000 from the Legal Aid Board for studies on 10 children suspected as having been damaged by vaccines. Four of the children were also used in the controversial study that linked the vaccination against mumps, measles and rubella to autism, it was admitted last night.

Other allegations, that the research was biased and did not have proper ethical approval, have been rejected by the journal and the Royal Free Hospital in London, where the research was carried out.

Dr Wakefield described the criticism as a "witch-hunt". He said: "I stand by the findings reported in The Lancet. We have identified important illness in children and raised important questions about child health."

A statement released by the hospital said Dr Wakefield, who left his post two years ago, should have declared the interest, but defended the other researchers involved.

A spokeswoman for the GMC said: "We are concerned by these allegations and will be looking at what action, if any, may be necessary." Investigators would be seeking to speak to Dr Wakefield in the coming days, she added.

Dr Evan Harris, the Liberal Democrat health spokesman, said the GMC inquiry could not answer questions about why legal aid money was paid out, or how the study was given ethical approval and published. "The Lancet and the Royal Free have taken just two days to investigate and acquit themselves," he said.

Jackie Fletcher, of the campaign group Jabs, said Dr Wakefield may have been the target of a smear campaign. "They seem to go all out to criticise the messenger," she said.

Sport
footballHe started just four months ago
News
Nigel Farage celebrates with a pint after early local election results in the Hoy and Helmet pub in South Benfleet in Essex
peopleHe has shaped British politics 'for good or ill'
News
One father who couldn't get One Direction tickets for his daughters phoned in a fake bomb threat and served eight months in a federal prison
people... (and one very unlucky giraffe)
Arts and Entertainment
Sink the Pink's 2013 New Year's Eve party
musicFour of Britain's top DJs give their verdict on how to party into 2015
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Selby Jennings: VP/SVP Credit Quant- NY- Investment Bank

    Not specified: Selby Jennings: VP/SVP Credit Quant Top tier investment bank i...

    Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executive- City of London, Old Street

    £40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executiv...

    Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager

    £40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: An international organisa...

    Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwickshire

    £25000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwicksh...

    Day In a Page

    Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that? The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year

    Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that?

    The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year
    Hollande's vanity project is on a high-speed track to the middle of nowhere

    Vanity project on a high-speed track to nowhere

    France’s TGV network has become mired in controversy
    Sports Quiz of the Year

    Sports Quiz of the Year

    So, how closely were you paying attention during 2014?
    Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry, his love of 'Bargain Hunt', and life as a llama farmer

    Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry and his love of 'Bargain Hunt'

    From Armstrong and Miller to Pointless
    Sanchez helps Gunners hold on after Giroud's moment of madness

    Sanchez helps Gunners hold on

    Olivier Giroud's moment of madness nearly costs them
    A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

    Christmas without hope

    Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
    After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

    The 'Black Museum'

    After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
    No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

    No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

    Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
    Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

    Chilly Christmas

    Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
    Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
    Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

    'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

    Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
    Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

    Ed Balls interview

    'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
    He's behind you, dude!

    US stars in UK panto

    From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

    What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect