The doctor at the centre of the MMR controversy ‘failed in his duties as a responsible consultant’, and went against the interests of children in his care, a disciplinary panel ruled today.
Dr Andrew Wakefield also acted dishonestly and was misleading and irresponsible in the way he described research which was later published in The Lancet medical journal, the General Medical Council (GMC) said.
In the late 1990s, Dr Wakefield and two other doctors said they believed they had uncovered a link between the jab and bowel disease and autism.
Today’s ruling will be a setback to campaigners who back Dr Wakefield’s claims but will fuel fears that the controversial doctor has been the victim of a sustained witch-hunt.
Dr Wakefield was absent from today’s hearing but parents who believe their children were damaged by the MMR jab heckled the GMC panel of experts as they delivered their findings.
The hearing – which was the longest and most complex case ever held by the GMC – has sat for 148 days over a two-and-a-half-year period.
Thirty-six witnesses gave evidence at the hearing, which has reportedly cost more than £1 million.
It centred around Dr Wakefield’s study, which sparked a massive drop in the number of children given the triple jab for measles, mumps and rubella.
During the mid 1990s, uptake of the MMR vaccination had stood at 92 per cent, but five years after The Lancet paper, the vaccination level had fallen below 70 per cent in some places. Measles cases in Britain rose from 56 in 1998 to 1,370 in 2008.