Andrew Wakefield Has Never Been Exonerated: Justice Mitting’s Decision in the John Walker-Smith Case

by Joel A. Harrison, PhD, MPH
Posted: August 1, 2016


Andrew Wakefield Has Never Been
"Exonerated": Why Justice Mitting’s Decision
in the Professor John Walker-Smith Case
Does Not Apply to Wakefield

Executive Summary


Andrew Wakefield is a prominent figure among those who fear that vaccines cause more harm than good. When the UK’s General Medical Council (GMC) revoked his medical license, as well as the license of Professor John Walker-Smith, a co-author on Wakefield’s 1998 paper, his supporters saw the decision as a political move to silence his criticism of vaccine safety and his claims that vaccines, the MMR in particular, played a causal role in the rise of autism and other childhood disabilities. Both Wakefield and Walker-Smith appealed the GMC decision; but Wakefield discontinued his appeal.

On March 7, 2012, Mr. Justice Mitting of the UK’s High Court of Justice published the Court’s decision in the Professor John Walker-Smith case, overturning the GMC decision. It did not take long for anti-vaccination websites to post articles referring to the Court’s decision, emphasizing that Walker-Smith and, by implication, Wakefield, had been exonerated.

This paper will show that Justice Mitting’s decision in no way exonerated Wakefield, that even with regard to John Walker-Smith, the decision was based on a procedural error, not factual innocence. In addition, despite what antivaccinationists have written, Justice Mitting’s decision also made clear that he considered the research showing no relationship between the MMR vaccine and autism to be established science.

In conclusion, it is clear that Andrew Wakefield has not, and given the overwhelming evidence, will NEVER BE EXONERATED.

Read Dr. Harrison's full article as a PDF version by clicking here.