According to the first article published in BMJ today by London-based investigative reporter Brian Deer, the study's investigators altered and falsified medical records and facts, misrepresented information to families, and treated the 12 children involved unethically.
In addition, Mr. Wakefield accepted consultancy fees from lawyers who were building a lawsuit against vaccine manufacturers, and many of
the study participants were referred by an antivaccine organization.
In an accompanying editorial, BMJ Editor-in-Chief Fiona Godlee, MD, Deputy BMJ Editor Jane Smith, and Associate BMJ Editor Harvey Marcovitch write that there is no doubt that Mr. Wakefield perpetrated fraud. "A great deal of thought and effort must have gone into drafting the paper to achieve the results he wanted: the discrepancies all led in 1 direction; misreporting was gross."
Although The Lancet published a retraction of the study last year right after the UK General Medical Council (GMC) announced that the investigators acted "dishonestly" and irresponsibly," the BMJeditors note that the journal did not go far enough.
"The Lancet retraction was prompted by the results from the [General Medical Council] hearing and was very much based on the concerns about the ethics of the study," Dr. Godlee told Medscape Medical News.
"What we found was that it was definite fraud and that is a very important thing for the world to know. This article shows that the science was falsified and should be discounted," continued Dr. Godlee.
This evidence "should now close the door on this damaging vaccine scare," the editorial authors add.