Andrew Wakefield, the researcher who sparked the scare over MMR, is unlikely to face disciplinary charges after failing to reveal he worked for the Legal Aid Board six years ago, according to a senior member of the General Medical Council, (GMC).

Dr Wakefield is under investigation by the GMC for failing to declare a conflict of interest over his research which suggested that MMR vaccination might be linked with bowel disease and autism. The finding was published in The Lancet in February 1998, causing a mass boycott of the vaccine.

The editor of The Lancet, Richard Horton, said he would not have published the research had he known then that Dr Wakefield was at the time being paid for a study looking for evidence to support legal action by parents who thought their children had been damaged by the vaccine.

Dr Wakefield received £55,000 paid into his research fund by the Legal Aid Board.

The GMC receives about 3,500 complaints a year. If it finds that there is a case to answer, it can be referred to the Preliminary Proceedings Committee, which could opt for a full public hearing.