I’ve been told by Dr Fiona Scott that the main news editor of the Observer phoned her today, and she has been promised that there will be a large article in tomorrow’s Observer [EDIT it's up now, here] reproducing in full and unedited the comments that she ended up posting, in desperation, in the commentisefree thread beneath their previous and rather incomprehensible non-retraction. In those, she explained that they had repeatedly misrepresented her views, and had consistently failed even to ask her what they were, despite her protesting.
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.
She’s also been promised that this article will be linked on the internet to originals repeatedly and incorrectly claiming that she is an MMR “dissenter”.
We shall see what tomorrow brings and I’ll post it straight away. I’m genuinely fascinated to know what one might be able to say on the subject without simply posting a full retraction and apology, although that seems very unlikely. Whatever they print, it will be very good to see if they finally manage to do right by Dr Scott.
We can only begin to imagine how very, very weird this experience must have been for her.