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Revealed: undisclosed payments to Andrew Wakefield at the heart of vaccine alarm

This page is research from an investigation by Brian Deer for The Sunday Times of London and the UK's Channel 4 Television into a campaign linking the MMR children's vaccine with autism. | Go to part I: The Lancet scandal | Go to part II: The Wakefield factor

The engine of the international MMR scare was an English lawsuit, later acknowledged to be meritless, funded with taxpayer's money by the UK's Legal Services Commission (formerly the Legal Aid Board). From 1996, substantial sums were paid to Andrew Wakefield, his supporters and associates [be amazed by a Who's Who at this site], hired by a lawyer, Richard Barr, to support the attack on the vaccine. The following table was released to Brian Deer in December 2006, under the Freedom of Information Act








Notes: In the above letter to Brian Deer, the Legal Services Commission refers to sums being allowed by a court. This means the costs assessment process, carried out in this case by a specialist judge, after all claims in the litigation were known. This court reduced numerous payments from even higher figures than those reported above, but did not determine whether work was carried out effectively, whether the calibre of the individuals named above was appropriate to the task, or whether the enormous scale of this activity was warranted. Now the figures are published, all of these questions are up for debate.

In an email to Brian Deer, Andrew Wakefield said: "The costs judge has revised the sum payable, by nearly £100,000 and I am happy to abide by this ruling." This suggests that his original bill, for generic work, may have been more than half a million pounds. He said he gave money to charities, and that fees reflected nine years involvement in the lawsuit. "I worked extremely hard on this very onerous litigation because I believed and still believe in the just cause of the matter under investigation," he said. "This work involved nights, weekends and much of my holidays such that I saw little of my family during this time".

The Legal Services Commission letter to Brian Deer makes it clear that the sums stated are for the generic case - common work, it explains, carried out for all claiments. This implies that substantial further payments may have been made for individual reports on children alleged to have been injured by MMR.

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