Dr John Walker-Smith (L), Dr Bill McBride (R)
by Mary W Maxwell
The “regulatory panel’s decision cannot stand. I therefore quash it.” So said Justice Mitting for the High Court in London in 2012, thus restoring the medical license of Dr John Walker-Smith.
Walker Smith is a gastroenterologist. I learned from his memoirs that he “fell in love with the small intestine.” How many people have ever fallen in love with the small intestine? He graduated from Sydney University in 1950.
The London Torturee — Walker-Smith
During his years at the Royal Free Hospital, Dr Walker-Smith was beloved by his patients, especially in pediatrics. He is one of the few folks who can be bothered to deal with bowel disease in autistic children.
Believe it or not, most GPs and pediatricians believe that children with autism need the care of psychiatry, not gastroenterology, even though it’s well known that many autistic kids have extreme bowel problems.
He and Andrew Wakefield worked together and, with several other doctors or researchers, published a study of 12 children. This is known as a “case series.” Occasionally a physician informs colleagues of things he or she has noticed, by using a genre known as the case series, to publish a report.
Such a thing is not meant to be a scientific investigation of the cause of a disease or a symptom. It presents the cases of Patient A, B, C. etc. “Look what we have observed: The setting of the broken ulna 6 days after injury instead of 2 days after injury makes for better union” — or whatever.
That Lancet Article
Walker-Smith and twelve others (including Wakefield) submitted an article to the Lancet. It was published in 1998 with a title that the tabloids would be unlikely to jump at: “Ileal-lymphoid-nodular hyperplasia, non-specific colitis, and pervasive developmental disorder in children.”
The article concluded there may be a higher than normal occurrence of bowel disease in kids who have had an MMR shot (measles, mumps, rubella) and recommended that it may be better to use a single jab for measles. The Lancet article did not, I repeat did not, may I say it again: the article did NOT say “The MMR (or any other vaccine) causes autism.”
(Personally, I think it’s clear that vaccines do cause autism, but the offending doctors said no such thing in the 1998 article.)
As I have said before, in my open letter to the Privy Council, the “press conference” that followed publication was not initiated by the article’s authors but by the Royal Free Hospital Medical School’s dean, Professor Arie Zuckerman.
That press conference is the thing that is always blamed by the mainstream press for “causing a scare” among parents. In fact the MSM often cites Dr Wakefield as having deliberately set out to scare parents. I say if there was any intention to scare parents it’s down to Zuckerman.
Today parents, and expectant parents, are indeed scared. As well they should be.
Who Was the Aggrieved Party in the London Case?
I would love to believe that when a researcher – such as myself – finds that if a person is harming all of society, she can go to court and make the case. But alas I will be told I lack “standing.” (A new exception is developing in regard to environmental damage. One can get standing to fight for the public interest in environmental matters.)
Note: an individual has always been able to use the path of “private prosecution,” but lawyers are hardly ever willing to represent a person who chooses that path!
The article at hand is a response to Dee McLachlan’s April 30, 2016 article, which talks about Brian Deer the journalist. He was employed by the News Corp-owned Sunday Times. Deer wrote a supposed “exposé” on Andrew Wakefield and John Walker-Smith.
His work led to the General Medical Council (GMC) striking both men off the register. The “charges” that journalist Brian Deer laid against the doctors were all easily refutable, but it’s clear that the goal was to turn Wakefield into a pariah – the poster boy, as it were, for the sin of criticizing vaccination (no to mention the sin of “scaring parents.)”
The head of the GMC must have been thoroughly in tune with the plan. Deer had all the standing he could eat, at the GMC hearings. The editor of the Lancet — who later “rescinded” the article – was also a player.
The Sydney Torturee – Bill McBride
I can’t say for sure that Dr Walker-Smith felt tortured, but as he was already of retirement age he must have been in absolute shock when told publically that he was a wrong-doer. Numerous patients came to his aid but their words did not, of course, get much publication. And the road to restoration of his license was no doubt an arduous and expensive one.
A similar case – of a man whose 1951 graduation from Sydney Medical was a year apart from that of Walker-Smith — should now be mentioned. I am referring to Dr Bill McBride, an obstetrician. He has explained how it was definitely “torture” to lose his medical license.
Luckily, Dr Bill McBride of Sydney told his story in book form, Killing the Messenger, in 1994. It is an excellent read. The case took four years and in 1993 he was struck off the rolls. His legal bill was $2.2 million.
Amazingly, it was the same set-up as with Deer. It was a media outlet that started the (wholly unfair) fuss and brought the case of “unethical research and what-have-you” to the authorities.
The media outlet was the ABC.
The person in charge of the torture was Norman Swan. Possibly a cousin of Brian Deer? Or possibly trained by the same trainer.
Who Was the Aggrieved Party in the Sydney Case?
Since they couldn’t bring evidence against McBride for his real “sin” – exposing Big Pharma – they went first for the idea that he had performed too many Caesarian sections, and then for “scientific fraud.”
In neither the London case nor the Sydney case did any patient complain about the way the doctor had dealt with them! No woman came forward to say she thought McBride had chosen wrongly in delivering her child by caesarian.
It was a hatchet job. Only one colleague stood up for McBride — Dr Douglas Keeping, a Queenslander from Aberdeen. He said, in the witness box, that the case was “without substance.”
Watch out for Aberdonians. He said: “It is my genuine belief that the clinical case against McBride is a vicious persecution and thoroughly reprehensible.”
How did ABC’s Norman Swan get involved? He claimed McBride has done fraudulent research. This was put to the NSW Complaints Unit who then took up the case with the medical board independently of any aggrieved party.
(Wouldn’t it be nice today if either ABC or some state’s Complaints Unit would go for the throat of fraudulent scientists?)
Water for Rabbits
I believe the persecution resulted from McBride’s giving testimony in the US as an expert witness. He first criticized the safety of scopolamine, as possibly causing malformations in utero,and thena drug called Debendox..
To study whether that drug could cause deformities in offspring he experimented with rabbits. One technician whom he employed later reported that McBride fudged the figure of water absorption. This is true and McBride admits it.
The water bottles hooked on to the sides of the rabbits’ cages dropped some of their contents onto the floor of the cage, so he did not get an exact reading of any of the rabbit’s water intake. He had used 6 rabbits but added the data from another two rabbits that had been studied by a colleague.
That colleague was Jan Langman, MD, in the US who gladly let McBride use his data to calculate the likely amount of water-loss. Later when McBride needed Langman to vouch for this in court (can you imagine), Langman had died, at a young age, of cancer.
I should mention that the water intake did not affect the conclusion that one of the rabbit litters was malformed.
As for the torture phase of McBride’s career, he had to sit in the witness box for four days and the whole legal process ran over four years. The late Frank Devine said in The Australian that it was painful to watch.
McBride was “let off” for the caesarians as the judge found that his practice was within the norm. They got him on the rabbits however. A future Gumshoe article will tell the fantastic story.
A Navy Admiral Volunteers the Truth. Wow.
A headline in the Independent on February 20, 1993 said:
“…Doctor guilty of medical fraud: William McBride, who exposed the danger of one anti-nausea drug, has been disgraced by experiments with another, writes Robert Milliken in Sydney.”
You never know who might come to your rescue. Royal Australian Navy rear-admiral G J B Crabb found himself being set up, by a pharmaceutical company, to spy on and discredit McBride. Crabb realized that McBride was being targeted for a smearing.
He went straight to McBride and gave him a written statement, dated August 25, 1980, to be used down the track if necessary. It said:
“Dear Doctor, A lawsuit had been held recently in the State of Florida where a husband and wife sued a pharmaceutical company for the malformation of their child. [An unnamed person told me] that you have agreed to give evidence as an expert witness and I was told that, in this case, money is no object in achieving their aim of discrediting new witnesses.” [Emphasis added]
Isn’t that nice?
And – wait for it – the admiral was also a member of Australian Secret Intelligence Service.
Isn’t that super-nice?
Dr McBride got his license reinstated in 1998. He will be 89 this month. Australia owes him a massive apology.
–Mary W Maxwell discusses McBride’s case in her book Consider the Lilies: A Review of 18 Cures for Cancer and Their Legal Status. It is a free download at maryWmaxwell.com.