MMR doctor Wakefield defends work

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The doctor at the centre of the MMR row defended his work, saying the case against him was driven by a desire to "crush dissent".

Dr Andrew Wakefield said the General Medical Council (GMC) hearing was about protecting the Government's MMR vaccination policy and some of the GMC's findings on the case were "false".

The GMC resumes its hearing today into his research on MMR and autism.

It will decide whether he and two colleagues, Professors John Walker-Smith and Simon Murch, are guilty of serious professional misconduct and should be struck off the medical register.

The panel is expected to make its final decision in June but will hear submissions from GMC lawyers and representatives for the doctors in the next few days.

In January, the GMC ruled Dr Wakefield "showed a callous disregard" for the suffering of children and subjected some youngsters to unnecessary tests.

It said he "abused his position of trust" as he researched a possible link between the MMR vaccine, bowel disease and autism.

He also brought the medical profession "into disrepute" after he took blood samples from children at his son's birthday party in return for £5 payments.

The panel ruled all three doctors were guilty of undertaking research on children without approval from an ethics committee.

Dr Wakefield said in a statement issued yesterday: "We can prove, with extensive documentary evidence, that this conclusion is false.

"Let me make it absolutely clear that, at its heart, the GMC hearing has been about the protection of MMR vaccination policy.

"The case has been driven by an agenda to crush dissent that in my opinion serves the Government and the pharmaceutical industry - not the welfare of children.

"It's important to note that there has never been a complaint against any of the doctors by any parent involved in this case - only universal parental support and gratitude."

Dr Wakefield described his colleagues as "outstanding paediatricians and paediatric gastroenterologists".

He added: "Our only 'crime' in this matter has been to listen to the concerns of parents, act according to the demands of our professional training, and provide appropriate care to this neglected population of children."

A spokeswoman for the GMC said the panel would hear from GMC lawyers as to whether the facts already found proved meant the doctors were guilty of serious professional misconduct and, if so, what sanctions should apply.

"The panel will then hear submissions from the doctors' defence teams over the next few days," she added.

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