Last week I blogged about the, now infamous, MMR piece by Dennis Campbell in the Observer. Campbell's piece contained this.
"the MMR jab which babies receive at 12 to 15 months, might be partly to blame. Dr. Fiona Scott and Dr. Carol Stott both say it could be a factor in small numbers of children."
Dr Scott subsequently e-mailed Ben Goldacre. The e-mail contained the serious allegation that some of the stuff in the Observer piece had been "fabricated".
Sunday's Observer contained a pathetic/feeble piece by Stephen Pritchard to justify the article. He mumbles on about anything, but fails to put to Campbell-who's never mentioned by name-the serious allegation made in Scott's e-mail to Goldacre. Was the piece or any part of it fabricated?
An interesting comment appeared today on Prichard's defence. You can scroll down the list till you reach it at 11.31 a.m. today. But to save you from adding to your RSI I've copied it below.
July 16, 2007 11:31 AM
I feel, given that I was one of the two 'leaders in the field' (flattering, but rather an exaggeration) reported as linking MMR to the rise in autism, that I should quite clearly and firmly point out that I was never contacted by and had no communication whatsoever with the reporter who wrote the infamous Observer article. It is somewhat amazing that my 'private beliefs' can be presented without actually asking me what they are. What appeared in the article was a flagrant misrepresentation of my opinions - unsurprising given that they were published without my being spoken to.
It is outrageous that the article states that I link rising prevalence figures to use of the MMR. I have never held this opinion. I do not think the MMR jab 'might be partly to blame'. As for it being a factor in 'a small number of children', had the journalist checked with me it would have been clear that my view is in line with Vivienne Parry of the JCVI. The 'small number' was misrepresented by being linked inappropriately and inaccurately with 'rise in prevalence', leading readers to arguably infer that it is in fact NOT a small number!
I wholeheartedly agree with Prof Baron-Cohen, and many of the posts and responses received to date, that the article was irresponsible and misleading. Furthermore I reiterate that it was inappropriate in including views and comments attributed to me and presented as if I had input into the article when I had not (and still have not)ever been contacted by the journalist in question. I am taking the matter under advisement.