GMC Hearing: What's Happening?
On the 16th July 2007 Professor Simon Murch, Professor John Walker-Smith and Dr.
Andrew Wakefield began a 16 week hearing into allegations of professional
misconduct. The initial allegations were made not by any patient but by an
investigative ‘journalist’. On Monday, the first day of the hearing, the autism
community worldwide showed its support of the doctors. Those who could make the
journey gathered in front to of the GMC Building in London. The many thousands
of children who could not be there on the day were represented by a floral
display comprising flowers from petitioners all over the world. Check the
cryshame.com site for more information and pictures about the GMC Rally...
CryShame and others– including JABS, Treating Autism and the Autism Treatment
Trust - joined in showing support for these courageous men who did nothing more
than put our children before the interests of global pharmaceutical profit. The
GMC hearing is providing the world's press with a window on the world of deceit
that underlies a catastrophic global increase in rates of autism spectrum
The Hearing Opens
Inside the Hearing: Dr Wakefield, Professor Walker-Smith and Professor Simon
Murch on Trial
Inevitably the atmosphere inside the building was quite different from that
outside. Inside the glass shell, there was a feeling of being in an underwater
bubble. Anyone entering was greeted by an almost entirely black security
personnel, attractively dressed young women with fixed smiles and confident
young men in casual dress. On the third floor, through two sets of glass doors
past a lounge area and the doors to the rooms provided for the press, off a
corridor on the right is the entrance to the hearing room. All attendees in the
public gallery and members of the press are searched before entering the long
About 60 foot long and 40 feet wide, the room is flanked by glass panels down
one of its long walls. The atmosphere is one of quiet efficiency. There are
between 30 and 40 participants in the hearing. The defendants and the
adjudicators sit facing each other, the doctors with their legal teams are down
the left hand side and the panel and GMC clerks down the right hand side.
It is difficult to imagine that this long mainly white room, with an oblong of
tables in its centre, will be the daily place of work for the three doctor
defendants in this case. For the next three months these highly trained doctors
will have to defend many of the professional decisions which they have made over
the last decade. Things that ‘just happened’ and that carried no particular
importance at the time could now, in the light of this room, spell the end to
their medical careers.
The room is not really like a court room, there is no central point of
authority, although the principal prosecutor for the GMC, Miss Smith, sits at
one end of the rectangular tables, she is not sitting higher than anyone else
and is sometimes hardly noticeable amidst the books, boxes and reading rests
that surround her. Nor are the ‘accused’ sitting together in a dock of any kind
but dispersed amongst their lawyers.
Almost everyone in the room, outside the public area, is wearing black, its
deadness only interrupted by the silver hair and white shirts of the men and on
some women brief touches of ochre or translucent white of arms and legs. There
is a round and almost classic clock on the wall at the far end of the room, on
its face time passes very slowly.
The first days of any juridical hearings, whether they be at the Old Bailey or
the General Medical Council (GMC) are always the worst for defendants. It is in
these first days that the complainants or the prosecutors make their case, and
knowing that they have a free hand in tarring the accused, prosecutors always
over-egg the pudding.
Consequently, defendants find themselves powerlessly listening to an endless
litany of their dishonesties and their dishonest nature. Amongst many
unfairnesses introduced into the judicial process by the GMC on this first day,
was an evidently unrestricted number of charges – Wakefield was faced with some
40 heads each broken down into two or three separate accusations, while
Professor Walker-Smith and Professor Simon Murch faced counts in their twenties
and thirties. Anyone who has ever had any experience of juries or tribunals
knows full well that with so many charges the the adjudicators are inevitably
faced with a quandary. As the mud is thrown at the wall some will inevitably
stick. ‘Well’, they will say ‘We have found for the defendant on some of the
charges, we have to find against them on some’.
Dr Andrew Wakefield, Professor Simon Murch and Professor Walker-Smith, the three
accused, faced a formidable number of charges. In fact, they faced so many
charges that one might imagine that the GMC had purposely covered every bit of
green beige on the roulette table to ensure a victory, if not on the red or the
black, then at least on number 38, para 1 (i) small a.
All three defendants, listened throughout the whole of Monday to a reading of
the accusations first from the GMC and then from defence council and finally
again, ‘just checking’ from the panel chairman. Like demonstrating a Chinese
water torture, it would seem impossible for any member of the panel not to have
been hypnotised into believing that the defendants were definitely guilty in
triplicate. This strategy is perhaps equal in unfairness to the bizarre three
year delay in formulating the charges; a delay that would probably not be
tolerated in most third world regimes or still surviving Stalinist enclaves.
Of course, in a fairer system, the admissions and mutual agreements over some
parts of the charges; those factual aspects which hold no legal or ethical value
judgements, would all have been sorted out well away from the panel or the
public, at a much earlier time.
Lawyers, however, enjoy this kind of legal accountancy, perhaps more than
actually fighting cases or defending their clients. The hearing room echoed with
bold legal statements such as:
18 (i), little 3 and little 5, is admitted as is 18 small k.
Each barrister seemed to revel in this soliloquy of small letters and numbers.
And of course such terminally boring speeches, gave opportunity for the pearls
of legal language to be dredged up from the deep.
‘Yes’ one barrister said to the Panel chair, ‘Sir, you are right and I am
Brian Deer also faced his persecutors inside the building. During the morning
break, two parents objected to sitting in the same public gallery space and
indeed breathing the same air as him. There was nothing that the GMC could do
about the air problem but ever eager to show fairness, security personnel roped
off the section of the public gallery which contained Deer and the other
Then at a break in the afternoon a security guard, checking under seats with the
‘wand’, thought he had found a bug under the seat next to that used by Deer. It
turned out to be a fault in the machine and no device was found.
The sense of utter tedium, however, masks a very serious operation which is
intent on stopping Dr Andrew Wakefield from ever again acting as a doctor in
England and perhaps more exactly ensuring that he never appears as an expert
witness in any cases of vaccine damaged children.