Wakefield’s MMR Bonanza


Anthony Cox has just blogged Brian Deer’s latest report on MMR and autism published in yesterday’s Sunday Times. He shows how the British government spent nigh on £16 million of taxpayers’ money to assist those making claims that their children were damaged by the MMR vaccine and became autistic as a result. Most of it went to the lawyers but a substantial amount went to independent researchers and expert witnesses in the case. Andrew Wakefield collected one of the biggest pay-off, £435,643 in fees, plus £3,910 expenses.

He has issued a statement in response to Brian Deer’s article in which he says,

I worked extremely hard on this very onerous litigation because I believed and still believe in the just cause of the matter under investigation. This work involved nights, weekends and much of my holidays such that I saw little of my family during this time.

Well, if the going rate for expert witnesses is between £120 and £200 pounds an hour or £1000 a day, I should jolly well hope he was doing it on his own time!

(Memo to self: remember to charge school £120 an hour for all marking, planning and preparation and report writing carried out during nights, weekends and much of my holidays.)

According to the Sunday Times he says he gave the money to charity. In an email which is currently being circulated on the web he goes into more detail.

The money that I received was, after tax and out of pocket expenses, donated to an initiative to create a new center, in the first instance at the Royal Free Hospital, for the care of autistic children and those with bowel disease. This intention was made clear, in writing, to senior members of the medical school. The initiative was unsuccessful at the Royal Free but ultimately succeeded in the US.

Is Wakefield referring to Thoughtful House, the autism treatment centre which he established in Texas? I wonder if anyone else at Thoughtful House also chipped in with their expert witness fees and expenses to set him up in private practise in the USA? Brian Deer has compiled a useful list of expert witnesses which includes two of Wakefield’s colleagues at Thoughtful House.

  • Carol Stott – fees: £94,916. Plus expenses: £5,198
  • Arthur Krigsman – fees: 16,986

(Memo to self: When head teacher pays up for work carried out in my own time, set up autism charity with proceeeds and employ self as director of said charity.)


Seeing as it is the new year I suppose I should have one of those quizzes that fill the newspapers at this time of year. But as I am so busy with all that work carried out during nights, weekends and much of my holidays I only have time to ask one question.

If you had £16 million to spend on autism, what would you spend it on?

a. Lawyers?

b. So-called “expert” witnesses?

c. Something else, like autism services perhaps?



7 thoughts on “Wakefield’s MMR Bonanza

  1. A nice planned community sort of living space for autistics would be nice. See how quiet it could be made while still allowing for autistics to yell if they want to or need to… shared pacing garden, that sort of thing.

  2. They could also have spent that 16 million pounds (no pound key on these US keyboards!) on what it was intended for – to help people who couldn’t afford legal fees access the legal system. I’m not sure that’s a bad use for the money either.

    Parents of autistics do happen to be one group that sometimes can use money for that, too – sometimes it takes legal assistance to get schools and communities to do what the law requires.

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