Er, “help”. Legal Chill from LBC 97.3 and “Global Radio” over Jeni Barnett’s MMR scaremongering

February 5th, 2009 by Ben Goldacre in Global Radio, jeni barnett, legal chill, MMR, stifling criticism | 228 Comments »

[Update: recent developments are now available here, including an EDM in parliament and discussion in mainstream media]

[Update: links to transcripts and audio hosted elsewhere at bottom of post]

One more thing, since Stephen Fry excellently tweeted this post to his 8 billion followers (weirdly he wakes me up every morning) I’ve had to activate supercache to prevent the site from dying. This means your comments will be stored for later but can only appear intermittently, sorry about that, nice to have you, and do look around for the site for more educational moronbaiting entertainment.

LBC have instructed their lawyers to contact me.

Two days ago I posted about a 7th Jan 2009 broadcast in which their presenter Jeni Barnett exemplified some of the most irresponsible, ill-informed, and ignorant anti-vaccination campaigning that I have ever heard on the public airwaves. This is important because it can cost lives, and you can read about the media’s MMR hoax here.

To illustrate my grave concerns, I posted the relevant segment about MMR from her show, 44 minutes, which a reader kindly excerpted for me from the rest of the three hour programme. It is my view that Jeni Barnett torpedoes her reputation in that audio excerpt so effectively that little explanation is needed.

LBC’s lawyers say that the clip I posted is a clear infringement of their copyright, that I must take it down immediately, that I must inform them when I have done so, and that they “reserve their rights”.

To me this raises several problems:

Firstly, I don’t even know what “reserving your rights” means. They are a large corporation worth around a billion pounds (genuinely), I am some bloke, they have a legal team, I have no money, they are making threats using technical terminology and I actually don’t understand what those words mean.

Secondly, more importantly, as I have written at length, the media have systematically and irresponsibly misrepresented the evidence on MMR. It is my view that individuals like Jeni Barnett – but more importantly, organisations like LBC and Global Radio who give them a mouthpiece and a platform – pose a serious danger to public health, with their ignorant outbursts, disseminated to the nation. This clip was extremely instructive as an example of that recurring theme, and it deserves to be freely accessible and widely discussed.

MMR vaccine uptake has dropped from 93% to around 75%, and to below 50% in London. Furthermore, the media have shown no sign of recognising and acknolwedging their role, and so it seems likely that they will go on to cause further harm on this but also, more importantly, on many other issues. I write about all this because I think it is interesting, and extremely important.

But thirdly, there is a question of the basic tools you need to illustrate a point. The clip I posted was, to my mind, hideous and unremitting: it went on for so long.

In fact it was so long, so unrelenting, and so misinformed that I really couldn’t express to you how hideous it was. If I tried, without the audio, you might think I was exaggerating. You might think that I was biased, that I was misrepresenting Jeni’s demeanour and views in this broadcast, that LBC and their parent company Global Audio are living up to the standards of basic responsibility which we might reasonably hold them to, as they shepherd Jeni’s views and explanations into our cars and kitchens. You might think that I was quoting Jeni out of context, cherrypicking only the ridiculous moments from an otherwise sensible, proportionate and responsible piece of public rhetoric.

Many of the specifics are discussed in the other post and associated comments (of varying sobriety as ever), but as a further brief illustration which has come to light today, on her website, Jeni Barnett is angry at the response to her broadcase being brought to a wider audience, and she is describing a nurse who rang in to disagree with her as “vicious”. Now, parenthetically, this strikes me as a slightly unkind and inappropriate thing to do as a wealthy public figure, a television and radio presenter, with an industry and (today we see them) lawyers behind you, to an individual working in the NHS for the good of the public on a low wage, with no such outlets, and no such resources. But more than that, I thought the nurse was actually very polite, despite Jeni talking over her, cutting her off, and expressing, as we have already discussed, unhelpful and ignorant views in a rather shrill and irresponsible fashion.

How can I convince you of this, if not with the audio recording?

You may wonder whether this legal move from LBC and Global Audio was solely about concerns over lost revenue, and infringement of copyright. That may well be the case. To be clear: if a listener is very motivated, the whole Jeni Barnett show, like all LBC shows, can be purchased from the company online, if you go through a registration process, give your credit card, and pay £4. I do not wish to deprive them of money, although I don’t think I’m realistically your first port of call if you are a regular LBC listener.

Ultimately it seems to me that the most important outcome of LBC’s actions will be to prevent an embarrassing, irresponsible and, more than anything, instructive piece of broadcasting from being more widely heard and discussed. That is a great shame, because episodes like this, and discussions around them, are important for the wider questions of the responsibility of the media, the misrepresentations and misunderstandings of evidence in science and health that they promote, and the impact that has on public health.

It is also concerning to think that it might join that long list of situations where lawyers have been used in a way that has retarded debate on important health issues (such as, in extremis, this memorable episode when a High Court judge criticised Andrew Wakefield for trying to use libel law to silence his critics).

So. If anybody is a proper media lawyer and is able to offer their services for free, do please contact me.

Without a formal opinion and a guarantee of legal backup that would last for the duration of a case, and financial resources to cover the cost of losing, it seems to me that the only safe way to keep this sorry piece of audio in the public domain is by large numbers of bloggers posting individual brief chunks, and blogging critically about them, using “fair use dealing” uncontroversially for brief slices, with me perhaps keeping tabs here of where people have posted these discussions and excerpts, in one reference post. Now there’s an idea. It might also be a useful project for media students as well as bloggers, and will bring google juice and visitors.

If you felt that this was an irresponsible piece of broadcasting, and an inappropriate use of the public bandwidth – which is licensed to companies such as Global Audio as a privilege by the nation – you may wish to complain about Jeni Barnett’s MMR show of 7th January 2009 to OFCOM.

Lastly, if they genuinely wish to “start a debate” – as the phrase is so commonly used – then I would invite LBC, Jeni Barnett, Global Audio, and their legal team to reconsider, and simply give permission for this clip to be made freely available, in the public domain, in full, as it was broadcast, so that it can be widely heard, understood, and discussed. The debate here is not about the dangers of MMR, but the dangers of the media.
Update and transcripts +/- audio
14:00 6th Feb.
Running to get on with other stuff (grrr) but here is audio, transcripts, and a couple of quick points.

This is not about LBC or Jeni Barnett in general, this is about one perfect, instructive, illustrative example of a whole genre of irresponsible journalism that drove the media’s anti-vaccine campaign for ten solid years, with serious consequences for public health.

Because of that, I think it is important that this piece of audio can be heard freely, discussed openly, understood, and learnt from. I genuinely cannot understand the impulse to restrict that.

The audio is being hosted by various places below, and transcripts of the show are available spread around the following sites for the moment. Let me know if it is legal to post one transcript all in one place and I will do so, clearly I have no idea about copyright. Thanks to HolfordWatch for gathering these links.

Part 1. Frank. Jeni Barnett MMR show – full transcript
Part 2. Martin of The Lay Scientist. The Barnett Transcript –
Part 3 Podblack Jeni Barnett On LBC 97.3FM UK Radio – vs John From Epsom
Part 4 Rachel Dunlop of Sceptics’ Book
This section covers ~ 19 to 24 mins . To see the preceding section
head For the audio head to my YouTube channel.
Part 5 Quackometer
Part 6 Holfordwatch Jeni Barnett and the Phone Call with Yasmin on the LBC MMR Segment

I can’t listen from this ancient PC in the bush but I’m told that the original joyous audio clip is available in the following locations:

Lastly, I write for a hobby, I can honestly say it never occurred to me when I took an excerpt of audio, broadcast on the airwaves into kitchens and cars, and made a brief blog post about it, that this could be considered “theft”. I welcome people lifting my output, I expect them to link back to me so people can find more of the same, and I am glad when people use my ideas and analyses, even (with a fleeting grudge) unattributed: that is what they are there for.

To me, these people with their lawyers, and their millions, are from another world. The fact that this has gone from a small blog post about a stupid radio clip to a blogstorm is a bit weird too, but excellent for getting a wider discussion going about the way that the media misrepresent health risks, and create scares.

Update – links

Amazing. Holfordwatch have kept track of the speed with which this story has spread overnight. I’m so pleased to see this dismal scaremongering, and LBC’s intemperate response, getting wide coverage.

Dr Crippen of NHS BlogDoc: Jeni Barnett and LBC start the clean-up operation

Frank Swain of Science Punk: LBC sic lawyers on Ben Goldacre over criticism of MMR show

SJ Cockell of Fuzzier Logic: MMR scaremongerer sicks the legal dogs on Ben Goldacre

Podblack of Podblack Cat: Ben Goldacre – Will Not, Should Not, Be Silenced On Jeni Barnett.

jdc of jdc325: MMR Scaremongering From Jeni Barnett: LBC Use Legal Chill Tactics. Ugh.

Political Scientist: URGENT: The Joy of Law

Martin of The Lay Scientist: Jeni Barnett on MMR – The Complete Show.

Jason Brown of A Drunken Madman: More medical mendacity.

ES Armstrong of Scattergum: Jeni Barnett is an idiot.

Dr*T of Thinking is Dangerous: Is there a proper media lawyer in the house? Your country needs YOU.

Common Sense has updated the Measles graph for England and Wales.

Dr Rachie of The Sceptics’ Book: What are LBC and Jeni Barnett afraid of?

Press Gazette: LBC in legal warning to Ben Goldacre over MMR blog post

Anthony Cox of Black Triangle: MMR and legal threats and″>The Today Programme’s irresponsible MMR interview

Quackometer: Jeni Barnett and Irresponsible Broadcasting

MacSpider of Spider Comment: Jeni Barnett, LBC, stupidity and threats

Londonist: MMR, For Some Reason, Still Controversial

Michael Grayer of Non-Toxic: Many Many Rants… and not much evidence.


It’s also had about a million tweets, including this from Phil Plait (yay), and the audio has appeared on wikileaks, but for how long I don’t know (millionaires take note: I am not responsible for the content of external websites).

I’ve also had emails saying that various people are working on transcripts, they’ve coordinated now and they’re almost complete. I’ve been sent a bit of one and I can only say, in black and white text this content is exceptionally informative reading. As I said at the outset, this is one of the finest exemplars I have seen of the antivaccination genre and I look forward to having it in a form where its strengths can be discussed again.

This was a broadcast on the public airwaves, it was widely felt to be irresponsible and misleading, and a review of it, and discussion about it, was important and informative. If Jeni, LBC, and Global Radio really felt that access to information was important, and that debates were worth having, I think they would encourage their legal team to reconsider, and simply give permission for this clip to be made freely available, in the public domain, in full, as it was broadcast, so that it can be widely heard, understood, and discussed.

Anooooother update:I have just had an off the record conversation with a senior person at LBC. I don’t understand why it has to be off the record, again, instead of a normal discussion about the issues, podcasted, whatever, but there you go.

I’m not allowed to tell you what we talked about (ricockulously…) but the bottom line is, I made the arguments, and they are adamant they will not allow this audio to be posted freely. Without details, I’m a nice guy, I wanted to like him, I wanted him to like me, I couldn’t believe we could disagree, but it was like communicating with someone from another universe.

One more thing, someone just gave me some money, it’s kind but I really don’t need money here (the paypal link below is ancient), more important is that people discuss the massive danger that the media now pose to public health, and that you complain whenever and wherever you see similar examples of foolishness.

Okay two more things
, since Stephen Fry excellently tweeted this post to his 8 billion followers (weirdly he wakes me up every morning) I’ve had to activate supercache to prevent the site from dying. This means your comments will be stored for later but can only appear intermittently, sorry about that, nice to have you, and do look around for the site for more educational moron-baiting fun.

It goes without saying that you should not be personally abusive to or about Jeni. This is about ideas, not character.

If you like what I do, and you want me to do more, you can: buy my books Bad Science and Bad Pharma, give them to your friends, put them on your reading list, employ me to do a talk, or tweet this article to your friends. Thanks! ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

228 Responses

  1. botherer said,

    February 5, 2009 at 11:01 pm

    I’m not the prime minister of a jam jar, and I might not have any facts, but I’m aware that being run over by a bus is dangerous, and so I think it’s a little rich to suggest I should not be allowed to voice my opinion on [dies].

  2. DrRachie said,

    February 5, 2009 at 11:04 pm


    I have a copy of the audio and so does Richard Saunders. I also have two blogs, two YouTube channels and a podcast that goes out to 5,500 people every week. I will post this offensive crap everywhere I can think of and talk about it on the Skeptic Zone this week. I am appalled by this woman. I couldn’t listen to the entire broadcast, however I did hear the end where she yells over Jasmin with unintelligible jibberish. I was VERY ANGRY. I was driven to yell dirty words at the car stereo.

    More than happy to help put a stop to these morons who shoot their moths off without considering the consequences.

    PS part one of of your interview with the Skeptic Zone is up on iTunes now.

  3. DrBob said,

    February 5, 2009 at 11:05 pm

    Where would I get an excerpt for fair use purposes? Failing that popping the .mp3 up on a foreign server might work. Who knows how many people might have the same idea? :)

  4. garpal gumnut said,

    February 5, 2009 at 11:13 pm

    Jeni’s rant does not surprise me. In bad weather fairies are particularly prone to bottom of the garden fever. When they cannot get a mixture of half a teaspoon of turmeric powder, mixed with the juice of bitter gourd leaves and some honey due to deep snow they need to escape from the bottom of the garden. For this I have no proof, although it is well known. When the weather improves Jeni and the fairies will return to the bottom of the garden and only special people with powers will know of their existence.


    p.s. Fairies are not immunised, otherwise they would lose their powers.For this I have no proof. It is well known however.

  5. Synchronium said,

    February 5, 2009 at 11:13 pm

    Oh my god, you know about Google juice?!


  6. Lave said,

    February 5, 2009 at 11:18 pm

    As a concerned and independent person with no connection to this Goldacre fellow (whoever *he* is) I shall be complaining to OFCOM post haste,

  7. Lave said,

    February 5, 2009 at 11:18 pm

    As a concerned and independent person with no connection to this Goldacre fellow (whoever *he* is) I shall be complaining to OFCOM post haste.

  8. huey said,

    February 5, 2009 at 11:23 pm

    “reserve their rights”

    this is like ‘without prejudice’, i.e. they reserve the right to sue you regardless of any offer they have made.

    I think its largely meaningless in this context, as it is not genuinely aimed at ‘settling’ a case. I.e. they’re just trying to scare you.

    I think you did the right thing in taking it down, however, to be on the safe side!

  9. zeno said,

    February 5, 2009 at 11:24 pm

    My complaint to OfCom will be winging its way to them tomorrow (after my blood pressure has eased a bit).

  10. adamwilcox said,

    February 5, 2009 at 11:29 pm

    I’ve not done media law in a while, despite having studied it but yes- Under UK law, the inclusion of short excerpts from copyrighted works on this site adhere to the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 under the terms of fair dealing as long as you attributed to both the originating author and publication- which you did. Fair use doesn’t actually have a restriction on time, it is only defined as a “reasonable proportion”- and 20 mins from a 3 hours show could feasibly be a “reasonable proportion”.

    That said, because it was a live program and you were putting it online for the benefit of those who had not been able to hear it- you could also use the argument of ‘time-shifting’, although I’m less certain that one will fly.

  11. huey said,

    February 5, 2009 at 11:41 pm

    To add to what adamwilcox said above, although this is arguably a ‘reasonable proportion’ its far from certain, and could be argued either way. Getting involved in such an argument could be expensive, even if you can get free advice from a media lawyer!

    Dont mean to put a damper on things, this willful ignorance makes my blood boil.

  12. simont said,

    February 5, 2009 at 11:48 pm

    ffs. seen so much woo sh*te and/or poorly presented medical research today that I can’t believe they still feel the need to bully you like this. Keep up the good work.

    And now I’ve registered the Guardian’s piece on food and productivity today? Sometimes feel like some kind of approval scheme would be helpful. Something that can assure the reader that the “scientific correspondent has vetted this to ensure it isn’t dangerously misleading, a blatant advertising gimmick or otherwise an over exaggeration”… because I’m really reaching a point of such scepticism that when the wolf does show up I’ll ignore that too.

  13. leguape said,

    February 5, 2009 at 11:49 pm

    As others have said, if you choose a representative section of a reasonable length then you are covered under fair dealing and the right to use it as part of criticism, review and news reporting.

    Alternatively I would find someone to transcribe some of it as a way around the issue.

  14. used to be jdc said,

    February 5, 2009 at 11:52 pm

    Probably not worth risking the wrath (pun intended) of the LBC lawyers by leaving the full clip up. I’d love to post a short segment on my blog though – examples of stupidity on such a scale are hard to come by.

    Hope it works out OK,

  15. aa said,

    February 5, 2009 at 11:54 pm

    I wrote to LCB complaining about the programme, and got a terse one-liner of a reply saying: “The programme was not recent and the matter is closed.”


  16. thepoisongarden said,

    February 6, 2009 at 12:01 am

    Is LBC completely ignorant of how the internet works?

    Left alone this would have quite quickly become last week’s story.

    Trying the use big legal muscle to stop the dissemination of this ridiculous broadcast is the perfect way to guarantee it spreads further and faster than it would have done.

    It is also a good way to up the count of official complaints to Ofcom.

  17. used to be jdc said,

    February 6, 2009 at 12:03 am

    I’ve dashed off a quick blog post on this – is it ironic that Jeni urges us to continue the debate while LBC and their team of hotshot lawyers try to deprive us of the source material for said debate?

  18. liquidcow said,

    February 6, 2009 at 12:08 am

    Might it be an idea to ask them what they mean by things like “reserve their rights”? I have a feeling that they may just be using a certain style of language in order to sound official and intimidating. I imagine this works a lot of the time as people get an email from some lawyers, panic, and do as they ask. Asking them to clarify what they mean might show that you’re not that gullible and that you’re aware they might not actually have a case.

  19. Doire said,

    February 6, 2009 at 12:12 am

    The electronic freedom foundation help with cases like this.
    Chilling effects keep track of attempts to use legal threats to silence comment.


  20. drunkenoaf said,

    February 6, 2009 at 12:15 am

    Ben, you’re famous now. FP Guardian articles on the Rath case and an Amazon top 10 selling book has raised your profile.

    I fear that you can’t get away with posting copyrighted materials without someone taking a legal pop at you these days. Worse, if it went to court, I doubt the merits of your argument on media responsibility in science and society would ever be heard. Who wins all depends on who gets to purchase the services of today’s Carter-Ruck.

    Your fair use blogger solution– or something like that– will need to be used in the future.

    Still. If of does go to court… Set up a paypal donation thing for that. I’m sure we’d all contribute.

  21. Paul said,

    February 6, 2009 at 12:23 am


    One option is for someone (i.e. probably not you) to put the recording up on Wikileaks ( They will happily host anything of journalistic merit in such a way that it becomes very difficult to take down (they have servers all over the world).

    Oh, and also, everyone should report this on every high profile site they can find, that way any time people look for this woman, they find this article. Personally I’m going to submit it to BoingBoing and Slashdot, both of which frequently cover this kind of thing.


  22. Andrej Bauer said,

    February 6, 2009 at 12:25 am

    I would say the lawyers just handed you a free story for your column. Change the game: they know how to play the courts, you know how to play the media. Become a victim of an evil pack of rabid lawyers from a large corporation and tell everyone your story. The result will be that many more people will end up listening to the “forbidden” audio clip (which by now is probably available in many places). Corporations have not yet learnt that the worse thing they can do on the internet is to try to prevent information dispersal with lawyers. You don’t need legal advice, you just need bloggers and other media to report on how they tried to shut you up. Good luck!

  23. warhelmet said,

    February 6, 2009 at 12:45 am

    Did that reader happen to be an LBC employee? If so, Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998 provides a framework of legal protection for individuals who disclose information so as to expose malpractice and matters of similar concern. In the vernacular, it protects whistleblowers.

    But extends to external whistleblower too.

  24. pseudomonas said,

    February 6, 2009 at 12:51 am

    What’d be the copyright status of a transcript?

  25. mrmuz said,

    February 6, 2009 at 1:12 am

    If you look on her site she’s playing the wounded “don’t be mean/I’m a mother” card now. With a bit of ‘Bad Science is just a clique who beats up on people, so you can safely ignore their arguments’ in there as well

    And yes, I think the only legal recourse they have is under media copyright law on the audio itself. An accurate transcript should be immune. If it does go to court even the audio would be something arguble as in the public interest I’m sure. But I’m not a lawyer.
    Give Geoffrey Robertson a call if it goes any further. He loves this sort of thing.

  26. zeno said,

    February 6, 2009 at 1:13 am

    I’ve posted on her blog at

    There seems to be a lot of comments supporting science and only a few anti-science ones. However, there is one from an certain Andy Wakefield, saying he wants to send Jeni a document and gives his website as Thoughtful House which is where Wakefield is currently working.

    Predictably, there is a poster (john) who gives as their website.

  27. nmg20 said,

    February 6, 2009 at 1:17 am

    Well, the wikileaks thing didn’t take long:

    M’learned friends: it wasn’t me, but I probably know better lawyers than you anyway.

  28. Jenfa said,

    February 6, 2009 at 1:19 am

    I’ve been a lurker here for quite a while, and am usually too nervous to comment for fear of spelling something wrong and looking like a wazzock in an attempt to appear knowledgeable. Now, though, overwhelmingly compelled to. I was so angry at Barnett’s broadcast I was almost hopping up and down. It’s about bleedin’ time such irresponsible (and devastatingly) influential people were brought to account. Even if, somewhere along the way, someone has to break a few rules.

    Keep up the good work. Though, less of the rule breaking, if it’s going to get you sued :)

  29. The Biologista said,

    February 6, 2009 at 1:22 am

    Yes, yes- transcripts. I’ll put it up on my blog. Frankly this stuff always look stupider in print anyway.

  30. wiz5 said,

    February 6, 2009 at 1:27 am

    Things are appearing on youtube too.

  31. RTomsett said,

    February 6, 2009 at 1:28 am

    How can you copyright conversation? Do LBC own the bits of audio contributed by the callers? If so, do they make as much clear during the show, or when they call in? Or anywhere? I’m asking mainly because this seems so patently ludicrous, but partly because I don’t actually know and it’d be good to find out…

    I still have the audio from two shows hosted on my site from when I edited them. Ben – if you feel you need to remove the audio from your site then I’m happy to keep it hosted on mine (you can then put a link with the disclaimer of you not being responsible for the content of external sites. See them get round THAT. Yeah.). I would love to have fun and games with some lawyers, they’re a right hoot, so it’d be a pleasure to help.

    Alternatively, that site sounds interesting (and possibly a better bet at keeping the stuff online reliably…)

  32. garpal gumnut said,

    February 6, 2009 at 1:28 am

    The legal position is unclear, it depends primarily on testing it at trial, and on whether the radio station feels it can make a quid out of mounting a case.

    It would have to weigh up the cost, chance of winning, and more importantly any good or bad publicity it would generate, and the effect on its bottom line.

    I take it that its advertisers are not fairies at the bottom of the garden.

    Fairies tend to retreat in recessions, there are just so many provable threats to ones existence about when the economy tanks.

    It is highly unlikely they will pursue you, the court of human opinion does influence judges.

    If they do may I buy a share in your defence?


  33. RTomsett said,

    February 6, 2009 at 1:30 am

    Oh cool, someone’s already put it on wikileaks. I suppose “someone” had better put the other one on there, too.

  34. RTomsett said,

    February 6, 2009 at 1:37 am

    Hey look at this reply on her blog, it’s great:

    “Goldacre (Bad Science) is an Allopath masquerading as a journalist, and Allopathy is a testament to ‘bad science’, and only keeps going due to medical politics, eg the antics of Ben. His 2005 ‘writing’ award was given to him a Glaxo man, the maker of MMR. Go figure!

    It is so easy to prove all vaccination is useless (and dangerous, just look at smallpox vaccination) and that MMR is killing way more kids than measles would be doing with or without vaccination (deaths declined by 99.4% before vaccination, so it didn’t do anything, end of story).

    “Are you singularly responsible for the measels ‘epidemic’?”

    I wish. But we all know who is responsible for the autism epidemic don’t we. Far worse than measles side effects that the Allopaths could prevent with Vitamin C therapy, or just good practice.

    Wise choice not vaccinating.

    NB. Bad Science don’t do ‘debate’, rabble rousing maybe. Allopaths are hardly likely to admit MMR is dangerous and useless, as one vax down the rest could follow, and Allopathy sits upon vaccination. When Hell freezes over maybe, or every other kid has a vaccine injury.”

    I honestly can’t tell if it’s serious or not…

  35. Filias Cupio said,

    February 6, 2009 at 1:49 am

    I am not a lawyer, but I follow geek discussions about such things.

    I can’t see this as being fair use – it is the entirety of the interview.

    You could excerpt small bits of it. I can’t think of an easy way to avoid cherry-picking accusation. You could pick some 30 second segments at random, but I can’t see how anyone without a copy of the whole interview could confirm you hadn’t cheated on the random selection. (You could use a public random number generator, such as the weekly lottery draw, but the translation of that random number to the presented clip is not transparent.)

  36. daedalus2u said,

    February 6, 2009 at 2:04 am

    There might be another approach. A few years back, Oprah said some irresponsible things about US beef regarding mad cow. That caused an immediate drop in beef prices and many millions were lost as a result. She was sued but ultimately prevailed because it was “opinion”.

    Libeling the MMR vaccine has certainly caused economic losses to MMR manufacturers. Presumably they could sue over that using the same legal theory that was used to sue Oprah.

    When a corporation says false and libelous things about a product and prevents those false statements to be explained and corrected, it would seem to me that they bear liability.

  37. zeno said,

    February 6, 2009 at 2:08 am

    The full WikiLeaks URL for that page is:,_2009

  38. Dr Aust said,

    February 6, 2009 at 2:08 am

    Perhaps some sympathetic MP could be induced to raise the matter in the House as an example of how debate on matters of legitimate public importance, relating to the nation’s health, etc etc is effectively suppressed by repeated recourse to M’Learned Friends? (see also Ann Walker vs Colquhoun, Simon Singh vs the Chiropractors, Goldacre & Guardian vs Rath etc etc).

    Evan Harris MP springs immediately to mind, but there must be others, like the guy whose name I’ve forgotten who took an interest in the Dore lot.

    What I find so particularly annoying is the double standard that the media are effectively applying here: they can run any old shit, again and again, no matter how stupid and irresponsible (see MMR stories passim ad nauseam)…

    …but if anyone calls them on their nonsense they reach for the lawyers.

    I only hope that the reason that LBC are trying to apply the Legal Chill is that they know they look like idiots here and are worried about losing credibility, and hence advertisers, and hence revenue. In which case the “Streisand / Spartacus Effect” will mean that this will now get far, far more attention than it ever would have done before – thus hopefully achieving exactly the opposite effect of what LBC desire.

  39. marcdraco said,

    February 6, 2009 at 2:11 am

    The trouble with “fair use” is that you can still get in trouble if you post a clinching argument – perhaps only 20-30 words from a 20,000+ word document. You’ll find an example of this if you Google for it; there’s a famous case but it’s late and I need some shuteye.

    You probably are breaking copyright: it’s a very difficult area of law and the one with the most money usually wins the case.

    Got to go, wife moaning she needs sleep.

  40. zeno said,

    February 6, 2009 at 2:12 am

    RThomsett: That post is from John at – an infamous anti-science and conspiracy website. If you ever suffer from low blood pressure, just have a browse of his website!

  41. RTomsett said,

    February 6, 2009 at 2:25 am

    @zeno: Ah thanks. Initially I thought it was a joke post, but the tone rather threw me. Sounds like a fun site, I’ll give it a visit some time.

  42. mq said,

    February 6, 2009 at 2:34 am

    As censored points out, you used too much of the recording to come within the fair dealing defence. If you’re interested, certain organisations (including The Publishers Association) issue guidelines which can help you determine whether the use you have made is fair before you publish. Generally speaking, wholesale copying is out. Transcription of a sound recording does not infringe the copyright in it, so next time transcribe it and then post the transcription.

    Re legal advice: if you’re going to pursue this or the next time this happens, go and see a decent copyright lawyer and get some proper advice. If you only have a limited amount of money, you can limit your spend upfront and doing some proper prep beforehand will mean that you get more out of your time. You can find recommendations for copyright lawyers in The Legal 500 and Chambers Directory, both of which are available online.

    You should expect to pay in some way though. I don’t quite understand why you expect to get this advice for free when your actions are basically undertaken for profit. Lots of law firms do work for charities, social firms and not-for-profit organisations for no charge out of a sense of social responsibility and obviously for the PR. But if you’re making a profit, why shouldn’t you pay? Anyway, someone may one day rip off your copyright work, so you should consider it an investment. (Your laudable and, in this context, irrelevant aims in wishing to prevent Ms Barnett from misleading the public notwithstanding, this is exactly what you did).

    Huey and liquidcow, both the phrases “reserving your rights” and “without prejudice” carry specific meanings. The statement about “reserving your rights” is made to ensure that nothing said in the letter could later be used in court to imply that any of the remedies available to the copyright owner, including for example an injunction, were ruled out by the writer. A typical cease and desist letter will usually make this statement.

    “Without prejudice” is a type of legal privilege which prevents statements covered by it from being forced to be disclosed in court. (Never say or write anything in any kind of legal dispute, even if you think it’s really clever, that you would not be happy to hear read out in court by the supercilious barrister on the other side). Statements have to meet certain conditions for the privilege to apply, but it is aimed at allowing parties to discuss matters openly so that they can reach settlement on all the issues in dispute.

    On using bloggers to get the word out: I suppose you can all mither on about how unfair the world and LBC’s lawyers are, but it strikes me as rather pointless. You’re preaching to the converted. You need to learn how to play the media’s game. Why didn’t you offer to go on Ms Barnett’s show so that you could rebut her claims and debate the issues with her? LBC would have made money from it so would probably have said yes, you could have educated the public and maybe even convinced one or two people to get their kids immunised and if she turned you down (which was probably likely because she’s not exactly in your weight division) you get to call her a scaredy-cat who can’t justify her position. Win-win all round.

    Finally, I see all kinds of novel ideas have been mooted about how the infringing copy could be hosted on another site elsewhere in the world and how you can get round the copyright issue, all because no one really minds if you rip off someone’s copyright.

    Let’s get this straight: infringing someone’s copyright is immoral. Really, it’s a form of theft. You’re reducing the owner’s ability to profit from that copyright work and also making a profit from it yourself without reimbursing him, so it doesn’t stop being immoral because you have sound motives or because you don’t like the copyright owner.

    Copyright is in many ways the most egalitarian of intellectual property rights. It arises automatically by operation of law once a work is created and it protects the fruit of someone’s creative endeavour so that the owner can profit from it, whoever that might be and irrespective of the worth or merit of the copyright work.

    In other words, this affects every single one of us. We have all created copyright works and the law says that no one can steal the right to make a profit from the distribution of those works from you. I think that’s rather splendid and that it should be respected, particularly by those who in part make their living from it.

  43. digitaltoast said,

    February 6, 2009 at 2:48 am

    Just finished reading your (excellent) book and this pops up!

    LBC used to be fun – Clive Bull and nutters on the phone, but then it went all wrong. I stopped listening when they started doing the friday night crystal healing/beyond the grave crap. Do they still do that?

    Anyway, thanks to you for brining it to our attention, and thanks to Wikileaks for allowing me to listen again :)

  44. Daniel Rutter said,

    February 6, 2009 at 3:26 am

    I Am Not A Lawyer, but I get the occasional Scary Legal Letter myself, and wrote a piece about them a while ago:

    There are some good comments from people with legal qualifications.

    The take-home message is that anybody can pay a lawyer to send you a legal letter saying pretty much anything. You will always receive one or more such letters before someone actually sues you (unless the complainant and/or his lawyer are completely nuts), but legal letters are only weakly _predictive_ of real legal action. For every complainant that actually sues someone, there are scores (maybe hundreds, or thousands…) who only ever send nastygrams.

  45. notzed said,

    February 6, 2009 at 4:38 am

    Of course, being morally right and just has no bearing on the law. I hope things don’t get out of hand for you.

    Copyrights, like other ‘intellectual property’ laws a pretty suspect. Apart from being used to chill public discourse, they have been extended so far as to be practically perpetual, robbing society of a rich source of cultural progress. Merely for the financial benefit of a few – often with no connection to the creator. Their justification as ‘incentive to create’ is demonstrably false.

    I must make the observation that at least you were technically able to do this. If the content providers and microsoft had their way, the audio would have been protected by technical and legal barriers which would have prevented you from exposing this dangerous material to the public.

    Freedom and control of digital data is vitally important. It will save lives. Remember that next time someone calls children violent criminals (pirates) for sharing their culture. Or wants to censor the internet to ‘protect the children’ like they intend to here in Australia.

  46. kerledan said,

    February 6, 2009 at 5:25 am

    I posted that I thought everyone should be gentle and not too shouty about this with Jeni (in that if you want to persuade someone it’s usually worth taking it gently IMO, especially if you have the strength, in this case, of hard science and evidence in your favour).

    I think I’d add ‘firm’. People should be gentle but *firm* with Jeni.

    And with LBC and their lawyers? Robust. Extremely. lol.

    Ben, surely the good old Grauniad would be willing to lend you a lawyer or six? They would surely step up to the plate to defend truthful reporting and honest debate for one of their writers, even if it’s on the writer’s blog, not theirs or in the actual paper? (I’m not being sarcastic here.)

    If MMR were polio vaccine, I wonder how things would go. In the case of MMR, parents’ decisions not to have it do have repercussions, but not with the harrowing evidence in front of your eyes of polio. I wonder what opponents to vaccination have to say about this, for example:

    I’ll bet Jeni agreed with her children having the polio vaccine. I don’t think she’d agree with the opponents to this one.

    I *hope* Jeni agreed.

  47. Pro-reason said,

    February 6, 2009 at 5:39 am

    We here think that the excerpt is reasonable, but their lawyers could very easily argue that it is too long.

    Play safe, and remove it from your server. Instead, post a link to a file hosted elsewhere, or tell people to Google for it (after making sure that Google has it).

  48. biggerpills said,

    February 6, 2009 at 5:40 am

    used_to_be_jdc, I just felt compelled to blog about this too, and kerledan, I *think* I was fairly gentle on Jeni.

    Bloody hell, it’s past 4am, I’ve clearly been too Daily-Mailed up to sleep.

  49. nickyb said,

    February 6, 2009 at 5:59 am

    Disclaimer: although legally educated, and to a certain extent, qualified, I am technically non-practising and also living and working outside the jurisdiction. I give this opinion purely as a lay person.

    Ultimately, LBC would need to consider whether the publicity that would be generated by a court case would really be in their commercial best interests. A victory would be at best pyrrhic if they were to be sanctioned by Ofcom for this odorous outburst by this vile woman.

    They would also have to prove loss or damage, and Ben or his webhost, would only be liable to the extent of that loss or damage. I would find it hard to believe that a phone-in radio show on a somewhat parochial local radio station would generate any revenue at all in the normal course of events. Indeed, the extra publicity Ben’s exposure has generated is quite likely to have actually resulted in an increase in LBC’s audience and its revenue. There could, therefore, be no actual damages that could be claimed.

    Then there would be the need to argue for costs. Costs normally “follow the cause” – i.e., he who loses foots the bill for all parties, but this is not necessarily so. If no damages were to be awarded, however, a judge could well take the view that the case should never have been brought and disallow any costs. Ben’s exposure could also be argued to have been so manifestly in the public good, that this consideration would outweigh a technical, and even a substantive, victory.

    All in all, I would suggest that this case would be far too risky for LBC to bring to court.

  50. Grumpy Bob said,

    February 6, 2009 at 6:07 am

    At the wikileaks page, it says the following under discussion:

    “The problem with vaccination was the use of trace mercury as a preservative in the vials. It damaged the brain of some kids, making them autists. The use of mercury was discontinued several years ago, so the debate became meaningless. ”

    That is probably incorrect, no? Never edited a wiki myself.

  51. Martin said,

    February 6, 2009 at 6:26 am

    Just a thought about transcribing the broadcast; is voice-recognition software good enough for this?

    I don’t want to sit in front of a computer for the entire weekend transcribing the show by hand (although I’m furious enough to do it!) if someone can do it more easily.

  52. Quivered said,

    February 6, 2009 at 6:34 am

    Reading her rebuttal – my nomination for best sentence:
    “I find it interesting that the vitriol that comes out of the pro MMR lobby is precisely why Allopathic medicine is struggling.”

    It’s sad but hilarious at the same time.

    PS WTF is “Allopathic medicine”?

  53. mrmuz said,

    February 6, 2009 at 7:09 am

    I had to look that one up too.
    Apparently it’s a term used by homeopathy fans to describe all medicine not homeopathy(or probably naturopathy as well).
    Allopathy is basically a derogatory term for mainstream scientific medicine. Its usuage pegs her as devout alt-ie, I think (although it could be more common and generic in the UK?)

  54. Jut said,

    February 6, 2009 at 7:38 am

    heh I had a comment deleted regarding john’s
    “It is so easy to prove all vaccination is useless (and dangerous, just look at smallpox vaccination)”
    All I did was point out that smallpox is extinct in the wild :s
    Is that guy for real?

  55. DrRachie said,

    February 6, 2009 at 7:51 am

    I have blogged it here:

    and posted the entire clip (in 10 min sections) on YouTube here:

    Let’s see how long it stays up shall we.

  56. DrRachie said,

    February 6, 2009 at 7:54 am

    Oh, and also you can Digg Ben’s blog here:

  57. Dr* T said,

    February 6, 2009 at 11:09 am

    Hi Ben,

    Added my own here:

    Is there a proper media lawyer in the house? Your country needs YOU


  58. Dr* T said,

    February 6, 2009 at 11:12 am

    Damn linky

    Is there a proper media lawyer in the house? Your country needs YOU

  59. crowcroft said,

    February 6, 2009 at 11:26 am

    get some nice pro bono lawyer to
    take her/them to court for endangering public health – even if you lose, the programme will have to be played in court as evidence, and will then be in the public domain. who knows, you might even win.

  60. Steve Page said,

    February 6, 2009 at 11:28 am

    Hey Ben, what is with you and lawyers?!

    I hope that this blows over, and, as one other reader said, if you should need a fighting fund, set up a paypal account and I’m sure that there are plenty of us that would be happy to chip in. The service that you provide is too valuable to be silenced by cheap threats of this nature.

  61. chatsubo said,

    February 6, 2009 at 11:30 am

    This is the complaint I sent to Ofcom, other folk may wish to send variations on this line

    ‘I am seriously concerned that Ms Barnett’s irresponsible, misguided and totally unfounded views on the supposed danger of MMR, and her corresponding views that measles was a relatively harmless childhood disease was in clear breach of Section 2 (Harm and Offence) and Section 5 (Due Impartiality and Due Accuracy and Undue Prominence of Views and Opinions ) of the Broadcasting Code. ‘

  62. sensecommon said,

    February 6, 2009 at 11:32 am

    I updated the graph of measles cases in England and Wales:

    And you’ll find some links on that site to the mp3!

  63. amalthea said,

    February 6, 2009 at 11:47 am

    Hi Ben,
    Looks like the Alties are at it again huh? Keep up the good work, I don’t think you’ll have much to worry about with the legal stuff (I’m hoping, I’m not a lawyer)

    Oh, and you got picked up by boing Boing too!!!

    Allopathic… love it. Do these people have to check in their sense of humour when they have their intellect stripped out? Just wondering.

    All the best,


  64. michael said,

    February 6, 2009 at 11:49 am

    OFCOM complaint lodged

  65. Jack of Kent said,

    February 6, 2009 at 11:54 am

    “So. If anybody is a proper media lawyer and is able to offer their services for free, do please contact me.”

    The LBC position appears to be potentially legally misconceived.

    Ben – give me a shout when you can. You know where to find me.

  66. buserian said,

    February 6, 2009 at 11:59 am

    I am not a lawyer, but I do work in publishing.

    Unless there is more to the letter you received than you’ve said, this seems a bit of a storm in a teacup. Posting a 44 minute broadcast is clearly a breach of copyright, and they are entitled to tell you to take it down. This is clearly more than is needed to illustrate your critique, which is about the only defense allowed under UK law.

    As for “reserve the rights” that’s a very reasonable phrase. It roughly means that by contacting you they are not giving you permission to use any of their material. For example, if you had posted two clips from their broadcasts, by contacting you about one of them, they aren’t giving you permission to use the other one.

    Why not just take down the clip, put up a text summary, and move on…


  67. Neil said,

    February 6, 2009 at 12:04 pm

    What really amazes me is that anyone could possibly listen to that uninterrupted shite (Barnett’s original broadcast, that is). I lasted a few minutes, but my stomach was churning.

  68. Psychedelia Smith said,

    February 6, 2009 at 12:29 pm

    Hmm – with a clip that length, you can’t get away with ‘fair use for the purposes of comment or review’ ::reaches for copy of McNae’s Law for Journalists::

    The only way around is indeed to transcribe the whole thing, and take it down in the meantime. Annoyed now because I’ve not had time to listen to it >:-(

    Maybe you should talk to LBC and ask if you can have a head-to-head debate with the daft bat on air? Now that WOULD be fun.

    Yeah, and get a copy of McNae’s in if you don’t have one. It’s bloody useful.

  69. pv said,

    February 6, 2009 at 12:29 pm

    Quivered said,
    February 6, 2009 at 6:34 am

    Reading her rebuttal – my nomination for best sentence:
    “I find it interesting that the vitriol that comes out of the pro MMR lobby is precisely why Allopathic medicine is struggling.”

    It’s sad but hilarious at the same time.

    PS WTF is “Allopathic medicine”?

    “Allopathy” is a word invented by Samuel Hahnemann, the inventor of homeopathy, to describe what might loosely be called the established medicine of 200 years ago. There is in reality no such thing as allopathy but that doesn’t stop misguided and ignorant twats such as Jenni Barnett (an unimpeachable example of the arrogance of ignorance) from using the word.
    I sincerely hope that both she and her employer are taken to the cleaners over this episode.

  70. DrRachie said,

    February 6, 2009 at 12:32 pm

    more blogginess here

    I will keep updating this as I find new things to point out.

    Further, the hits on the youtube channel are slowly increasing.

  71. dclark78 said,

    February 6, 2009 at 12:40 pm

    Sorry I haven’t read all the comments but there is a torrent of the audio available on this link

    Ben, if this is a no no please delete this post.

  72. James H said,

    February 6, 2009 at 12:47 pm

    I’ve started a ‘Defend Ben Goldacre from LBC’ group on facebook. If you’re on facebook, please join and tell all your friends.

  73. mjrobbins said,

    February 6, 2009 at 12:59 pm

    A transcript is in progress:

    Part 2 is up on my blog. The other parts will appear on other blogs imminently.

    Part 2:

  74. Professor_Yaffel said,

    February 6, 2009 at 1:01 pm

    I’m not a media lawyer, and I don’t have any connections at all with the people involved in this broadcast, but I wonder if there isn’t a slight over-reaction here. I think most broadcasters would object to anyone putting 45 minutes of their content on the internet. For one thing, as I understand it there can be issues about content being accessed outside the UK. For example, the BBC can’t make certain sports coverage available on its i player, and the podcasts for its classical cd programme “Building a Library” have to be edited to reduce the extracts played to demonstrate the reviewer’s comments.

    Obviously a polite request and an explanation for it would be a far better way to proceed, and the fact that they chose to react in a heavy-handed fashion points to a lack of judgment. All that this sort of behaviour achieves is to guarantee wider coverage, and to make the broadcaster look intellectually weak.

  75. cavoab said,

    February 6, 2009 at 1:15 pm

    I am a lawyer. I give this information for entertainment purposes only (ie you should get real advice from someone who works for a firm which is willing to do this pro bono, this is for interest only and I haven’t checked it thoroughly):

    Firstly, ‘all our client’s rights against you are reserved’, or similar, just means that they’re saying that you don’t kill any rights they might have to claim damages against you simply by removing the clip – they’re saying “remove the clip, and, by the way, we could still sue you after that”. It’s not necessary, but pretty standard language for a litigator just to avoid any doubt and keep all options open.

    Secondly, lots of speculation on the fair dealing argument (which is obviously the right defence to run), including the classic law student’s exam answer from garpal gumnut:

    “The legal position is unclear, it depends primarily on testing it at trial”

    When I was a student it was usually written as “It’s for the court to decide” (which gained no marks at all).

    How about some law:

    In determining whether, in preparing one publication, an unfair use has been made of another, the nature of the two publications, and the likelihood or unlikelihood of their entering into competition with each other is not only a relevant factor but may be the determining factor in the case: Weatherby & Sons v International Horse Agency and Exchange Ltd [1910] 2 Ch 297 at 305 per Parker J.

    It strikes me that this is pretty straightforward – Ben’s use was obviously for criticism (and the blog post above is a decent draft defence); there is absolutely no chance of him being in competition with the author; there is no realistic suggestion that his use of the work was anything more than necessary than required for the purposes of criticism; nor is there any suggestion of any improper gain that could have resulted from excessive use.

    And, from the other angle, what could the author claim if fair dealing was not shown (ie if a claim was successful)? Injunction to prevent use, ok, same situation we are in now. Can’t see damages being more than nominal – again by virtue of the fact that Ben is not in competition with the author so the author doesn’t lose anything. Costs – this might hurt the wallet a bit.

    So, pretty solid defence I would think – this is exactly the situation that is envisaged by the Act, where a work is necessarily copied for the purposes of criticizing it – but these things are never certain and there is some risk on costs (but not really any on damages).

    I would tell them where to stick it. But I’m stubborn.

  76. thekumquat said,

    February 6, 2009 at 1:15 pm

    Can anyone point me to a transcript please?
    Too deaf to listen to radio for more than a few seconds.

  77. DrRachie said,

    February 6, 2009 at 1:20 pm is working on a transcript as I type. I’ll post a link here as soon as it becomes available.

  78. mjrobbins said,

    February 6, 2009 at 1:26 pm

    Part 2 of a transcript is up at Others are working on the other parts as I speak.

  79. A full time unpaid carer said,

    February 6, 2009 at 1:34 pm

    Just joined the facebook group…let’s get this all over the internetz.

  80. Myryama said,

    February 6, 2009 at 1:40 pm

    I’ve lurked here for months with commenting, but this issue is too big to ignore.

    A quick look at Wikipedia (not always the most reliable source, I admit, but handy for the layman) suggests that in 1999 measles killed 873,000 people worldwide. Five years later, an extensive vaccination programme had cut this figure to around 345,000. Why do people still dispute the efficacy of vaccinations? Whenever I hear these people state their “arguments” I want to ask them “When did Smallpox last claim a member of your family?” or “How many of your children have Polio?”.

  81. gadgeezer said,

    February 6, 2009 at 1:43 pm

    HolfordWatch has posted a transcript of Jeni Barnett’s final caller, Yasmin (?) is the nurse/doctor in Primary Practice.

    It is absolutely extraordinary. Possibly my favourite exchange:

    Yasmin: Could you tell me what’s in the vaccine? What do you think is in the vaccine?

    JB: No, I can’t.

    Yasmin: Then how can you make a decision for your child?…

    Yasmin: You don’t know what you’re talking about. You can’t even tell me what’s in an MMR vaccine so you shouldn’t be talking about it.

    JB: Well, I can get it…Shall I get it off the internet, Yasmin?

    Yasmin: Yeah, get it off the internet, from a reliable source, the such as the Department of Health

    JB: Really?

    Yasmin: and then I might listen to you, yeah.

    JB: The Department of Health frightens people.

    But, when has ignorance of what you’re talking about ever stopped you having an opinion and passing it off as fact, eh? And Jeni Barnett didn’t frighten anyone away from MMR with all the talk of toxins and poisons?

  82. RTomsett said,

    February 6, 2009 at 1:44 pm

    “It strikes me that this is pretty straightforward – Ben’s use was obviously for criticism (and the blog post above is a decent draft defence); there is absolutely no chance of him being in competition with the author; there is no realistic suggestion that his use of the work was anything more than necessary than required for the purposes of criticism; nor is there any suggestion of any improper gain that could have resulted from excessive use.” – cavoab


    It’s funny how this threat of legal action has actually managed to spread the file far wider and probably made it reach a broader audience than it ever would have got had they not done anything. The more it spreads, the more work they’ve created for themselves if they want to stop people from hosting it.


    P.S. you can download the MMR excerpt from the show from 27-03-2008 (not the one that started all the fun and games) here:

  83. Blue Eyes said,

    February 6, 2009 at 1:45 pm

    OK re the copyright: I have a small amount of knowledge in this regard. Apologies if the issue has already been covered. There is a defence to copyright infringement if you are using an extract for “academic” criticism. As long as the extract is as small as it can be to convey the point and acknowledges the source than I think you are OK. Also, copyright infringement is a civil “offence” so they can only sue you for the damage you have caused them. How much revenue will they have lost by your posting an excerpt of one programme? None I would hazard.

    Usual disclaimers apply, but if you wanted to email me then feel free.


  84. Jack of Kent said,

    February 6, 2009 at 1:47 pm

    Cavoab, again just for entertainment purposes, even if it were an infringing act (which is denied), one would wonder in these circumstances whether LBC could gain injunctive relief (ie a court order) rather than a mere payment of licence fee for damages…

  85. thepoisongarden said,

    February 6, 2009 at 1:49 pm

    Am I allowed to say ‘I told you so’ after posting, yesterday, that it was a stupid thing for LBC to do?

    I think, perhaps, Ben is being too modest in not posting this link;

    Let’s be realistic, no publicity is going to change the mind of Ms Barnett or those who share her distorted view of science but, if it increases the number of times people can say there is no evidence that MMR causes autism, it will have done some good.

    That second link points out that half of all measles cases are now in London.

  86. Geoffrey said,

    February 6, 2009 at 2:00 pm

    Definition of “Reserve our rights”

    This is legalspeak for: “accede to our demands now. Even if you do, this is a continuing threat. We claim you broke the law and we are legally entitled to sue you for a remedy in court. We may file a law suit later anyway, even if you complied with our demand”.

    The source of my knowledge is: I am an ex lawyer (I no longer practise)who qualified in England and New York. I practised litigation/arbitration in London at the biggest law firm in the world.

  87. gadgeezer said,

    February 6, 2009 at 2:02 pm

    Martin has posted part of the show in transcript form: the call from Tracy the homeopath.

    Too many, top-class comedy moments but I like this.

    Tracy: It started off, I went on a short course about, it was a choice, making a choice about vaccination. And it was run by a homeopath.

    JB: But why did you go on that course in the first place?

    Tracy: Because I had a feeling inside, I inherently knew, that it must be wrong to be putting toxins and poisonous material into a young baby’s body.

    JB: Right.

    Tracy: It’s as simple as that. Mercury, formaldehyde, you know – live viruses that are cured (?) in monkeys’ kidneys. How can that be right for your child?

    JB: Now, are you, by any stretch of the imagination, described as a crank by your friends?

    Tracy: No. They all know me too well now.

    Are those the sonorous notes of the toxins gambit I hear? Where is Orac, doesn’t he have a bat sense for this sort of thing?

  88. porcospino said,

    February 6, 2009 at 2:08 pm

    Is it too cynical to suggest she knows she’s talking crap, and is only doing it for the ratings?

    Meanwhile, I wonder if anyone is looking into a link between talk radio and the incidence of hypertension. I’m pretty sure talk radio is bad for your health, but have yet to see the evidence.

    Just doing my bit.

  89. mikewhit said,

    February 6, 2009 at 2:11 pm

    I like the way “allopath” is used in the same way you might hear, “xxx is a psychopath” !

    NB. Chambers dictionary:

    Incidentally, surely using a vaccine is literally, “homeo” (same) “pathos” (suffering) – ie. gaining immunity by exposure to the same thing that causes the illness … 😉

  90. podblack said,

    February 6, 2009 at 2:15 pm

    Hey all!

    I’ve got the following fascinating interchange, which I didn’t quite know whether to laugh or cry over:

    Jeni Barnett On LBC 97.3FM UK Radio – Vs John From Epsom

    It’s a transcript from about twelve minutes in. I quite liked John, he tried his very best.

  91. gadgeezer said,

    February 6, 2009 at 2:23 pm

    They’re coming thick and fast. Podblack has put up a transcript of the call with John from Epsom: Jeni Barnett On LBC 97.3FM UK Radio – Vs John From Epsom.

    But the fact is that the more we sanitise society and the more we become absolutely – what’s the word – hypocritical about stuff – you cannot support letting our children run riot and not converse with each other and not play and all the other stuff that we’re doing… and then get up in high dudgeon when we don’t put drugs into their body!

    Stick the kids out running in air, ban cars on the road, make them have six hours a day PE at school give them an hour every single day where they’re running around playing rounders and walls and not just – a few!

    When is Jeni going to talk to the Education Minister about her radical agenda for education built around 6 hrs PE a day?

  92. MissPrism said,

    February 6, 2009 at 2:29 pm

    I listened to as much as I could stand – my word, she’s spectacularly ill-informed. If there’s anything else your loyal commentariat can do other than get the word out, let us know.

  93. censored said,

    February 6, 2009 at 2:30 pm

    Fuck me. I’ve only listened as far as bonkers Tracy who thinks children’s diseases are only dangerous when their immune systems are suppressed by drugs.

    I initially thought this was a bit of a storm in a teacup. Talk show host goes a bit over the top, that’s what they’re paid for.

    I’m now heading straight over to OFCOM.

  94. aram said,

    February 6, 2009 at 2:36 pm

    I think complaining to OFCOM sets a bad precedent, in which the government is involved in suppressing expressions of opinion.

    Better, I think, would be an advertiser boycott. If LBC understood that promoting anti-MMR hysteria would hurt them financially, then they would be much more likely to reconsidering keeping Jeni Barnett.

  95. cavoab said,

    February 6, 2009 at 2:36 pm

    Jack of Kent – fair question, but no, injunction is a normal remedy for copyright infringement. Still discretionary, but if infringement was shown then it would hard to argue that injunction wasn’t appropriate.

    Availability of damages relevant for interim injunction of course.

    And one for the pedants: injunctive relief =/= court order.

  96. Dr* T said,

    February 6, 2009 at 2:43 pm

    I’ve done that too.

  97. Michael Grayer said,

    February 6, 2009 at 2:47 pm

    I just started a new blog (inspired by the call to do so in the Bad Science book) and this awful situation is the subject of one of my first entries.

    Glad to add my voice to the blogosphere!

    podblack: I liked John too. Especially his opening lines and Jeni’s genuine surprise that someone actually drew a rational conclusion from sound evidence.

  98. La G said,

    February 6, 2009 at 3:27 pm

    aram, I’m usually not a fan of complaining for OFCOM, particularly when I did not hear the original broadcast. However, in this case I feel it’s reasonable as I’m complaining not that Jeni has ‘offended’ me or shouldn’t be allowed her opinion, but that someone broadcasting for an hour on a scientific subject should make attempts to be unbiased, not shut down opposing opinions and have made an attempt to understand the basic facts in advance. It is her proud ignorance and irresponsibility I object to.

  99. chatsubo said,

    February 6, 2009 at 3:32 pm

    “aram said,
    February 6, 2009 at 2:36 pm

    I think complaining to OFCOM sets a bad precedent, in which the government is involved in suppressing expressions of opinion.”

    aram, I respectively disagree for two reasons.

    Firstly, it is LBC who are trying to censor information with heavy handed legal threats.

    Secondly, its not about censorship its about responsibility. Public broadcasters have a responsibility to the public not to broadcast information and advice that could potentially harm people, and not to release information that is full of bias; thus pretending to present fact, when it is actually comment.

    If LBC allowed one of their presenters to spend a hour taking about how there was no connection between smoking and cancer was a myth there would be, quite rightly, an outrage.

    So why should a person with similarly misinformed beliefs on MMR be allowed to get away with it.

  100. julie oakley said,

    February 6, 2009 at 3:33 pm

    A picture tells a thousand words.

  101. chatsubo said,

    February 6, 2009 at 3:33 pm

    “aram said,
    February 6, 2009 at 2:36 pm

    I think complaining to OFCOM sets a bad precedent, in which the government is involved in suppressing expressions of opinion.”

    aram, I respectively disagree for two reasons.

    Firstly, it is LBC who are trying to censor information with heavy handed legal threats.

    Secondly, its not about censorship its about responsibility. Public broadcasters have a responsibility to the public not to broadcast information and advice that could potentially harm people, and not to release information that is full of bias; thus pretending to present fact, when it is actually comment.

    If LBC allowed one of their presenters to spend a hour taking about how there was no connection between smoking and cancer there would be, quite rightly, an outrage.

    So why should a person with similarly misinformed beliefs on MMR be allowed to get away with it.

  102. censored said,

    February 6, 2009 at 4:01 pm

    What was the date of the live broadcast?

  103. Simon_Bradshaw said,

    February 6, 2009 at 4:06 pm


    You have email re an offer of paralegal support.

    A lot of people here have rightly noted the limits on fair use. However, the Court of Appeal said in the 1971 case of Hubbard v Vosper that the limits of what could reasonably be quoted depended on such factors as public interest. A detailed analysis or rebuttal of a controversial work might, in Lord Denning’s (and his fellow judges’) view necessarily involve very extensive quotation from that work.

  104. podblack said,

    February 6, 2009 at 4:10 pm


    The link is actually:

    Jeni Barnett On LBC 97.3FM UK Radio – Vs John From Epsom

    Please change any bookmarks and thanks for the support – you should also check:

  105. padster said,

    February 6, 2009 at 4:41 pm

    I tried to complain about the show on the Ofcom website, but I get to a form that tells me it has no listing for LBC. It’s a mainstream FM station, for god’s sake?! What am I doing wrong…


  106. michael said,

    February 6, 2009 at 5:05 pm

    Padster – made a similar mistake, that page is where you can find information about complaining directly to LBC – they don’t seem to have their details. If you click continue you get through to the OFCOM complaint form.

  107. The Biologista said,

    February 6, 2009 at 5:48 pm

    Anyone else reckon this is going to turn into a media shitstorm rushing to Jeni’s defence?

    I really hope there’s “balance”, but I can’t help but be cynical.

  108. Psychedelia Smith said,

    February 6, 2009 at 6:22 pm

    Yasmin’s my heroine:

    Yasmin: Could you tell me what’s in the vaccine? What do you think is in the vaccine?

    JB: No, I can’t.


    Yasmin: You don’t know what you’re talking about. You can’t even tell me what’s in an MMR vaccine so you shouldn’t be talking about it.

    Ker-plunk, checkmate, game, set and match. Go girl.

  109. gadgeezer said,

    February 6, 2009 at 6:42 pm

    Quackometer has the missing part 5: Jeni Barnett MMR Rant Transcript with “Dr Rob”

    You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you won’t know where to put your fact for the embarrassment as she snidely remarks that although Dr Rob has been immunised against flu, it hasn’t stopped him from getting a cold.

  110. Kathleen Seidel said,

    February 6, 2009 at 6:48 pm

    Good Lord. After spewing histrionically for nearly an hour, bosom all aquiver with fear and ignorance, Barnett accuses the eminently restrained Yasmin of being “overdramatic,” then describes her as “vicious” on her blog. What a perfect example of projection.

  111. padster said,

    February 6, 2009 at 6:53 pm

    Give her hell.


  112. cxw1219 said,

    February 6, 2009 at 7:04 pm

    Dear Ben,

    I was appalled by this broadcast.

    I have even made a complaint to OFCOM.

    The subsequent treatment of this site with regard to availability of the broadcast makes things even worse.

    Clearly LBC have little pecuniary interest in this material, and the main reason for their ‘pulling the plug’ is to reduce the exposure of this incident.

  113. MissPrism said,

    February 6, 2009 at 7:15 pm

    I’ve transcribed a couple of minutes, which is all I could stand, and blogged about it here.

  114. cxw1219 said,

    February 6, 2009 at 7:32 pm

    I got it from wikileaks.

    A copy may be available here as a torrent.


  115. alextravellion said,

    February 6, 2009 at 11:33 pm

    I’m just a bloke too. Just a bloke with kids (3 actually – little sods mostly).

    Coincidently, on the day that LBC briefs try it on with you we popped down to our GP and squirted our youngest little sod full of his final MMR vax.

    This will protect him from Measles, Mumps and Rubella and, thankfully, he will be better for having these vax.

    Get some advice from J of K and do what is necessary to keep your head above water but don’t give up the fight.


  116. KatyNewton said,

    February 6, 2009 at 11:48 pm

    Sweet baby Jesus, I don’t know where to start. I’m on Clip 2 and I’m already feeling a bit light-headed.

  117. kerledan said,

    February 7, 2009 at 7:15 am

    Over at podblack is a transcription of the bit with John. In the warm up, it seems Jeni says this:

    “Do you want your kids to have an inoculation or don’t you? Don’t make people feel guilty if you make the decision that they don’t want to have drugs put into them; when I was out in American, eighteen months ago, the only cases of polio that were coming across were the ones where the children had the polio vaccine. And most doctors who were out in the States were not letting their children have it! What does that say to you?”

    Has this woman ever seen someone with polio? Has she any clue of the level of suffering it causes?

    This foolish, foolish woman.

  118. podblack said,

    February 7, 2009 at 7:41 am

    Thanks for the mention, Kerledan! Head over to Skeptic’s Book and see the tale of a mother of eight kids… nasty stuff. :(

  119. kerledan said,

    February 7, 2009 at 7:47 am

    You’re welcome podblack.

    The case at Skeptic’s Book is harrowing.

    Back just 80 years, polio cut short of disabled the lives of a great many people in the UK. Now it doesn’t. It still does elsewhere where vaccination isn’t universal, there are also wild strains).

    Human progress: let’s rid the world of this one. Like we’ve probably done with smallpox.

  120. adamwilcox said,

    February 7, 2009 at 9:40 am

    Another blog + hosting of a clip:

    Inoculation against such diseases is very important, eradication must be utter and complete. It takes only a few uninoculated people to allow a disease to survive and revive, and to spread back. To make claims like the ones in the LBC show was an irresponsible piece of broadcasting, and put the public at risk. People like Jeni Barnett pose a serious danger to public health by irresponsible journalism misappropriating the public’s trust in the media and eroding the understanding of science and medial health.

  121. technollama said,

    February 7, 2009 at 11:02 am

    I have written a legal opinion:

  122. ajberrow said,

    February 7, 2009 at 11:37 am

    I’ve added the mp3 file (copied from wikileaks) here : jeni-barnett-mmr-and-vaccination-slot-on-lbc.mp3.

  123. jodyaberdein said,

    February 7, 2009 at 11:53 am

    Regarding polio vaccination:

    Indeed all cases in countries with effective, complte vaccination programmes are vaccine induced – a known, small, risk that is much below that of having epidemic polio.

    The story of polio vaccination is fascinating, and I can highly recommend ‘Patenting the Sun’ by Jane S Smith.

    History in many ways does repeat itself, and indeed before the Salk field trials no less that Walter Winchell broadcast a slur on the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis.

    In stark contrast to our perhaps more cynical age there was public outrage at the mooted withdrawal of some states from the trial – people had lived with polio and they wanted a vaccine.


  124. yasminpn said,

    February 7, 2009 at 12:18 pm

    Re my discussion with Jeni Barnett on LBC.

    I work as a practice nurse for the NHS.

    I was listening to LBC at the end of my shift.(incidently involved wading through the myths surrounding MMR with a parent).

    I was shocked and alarmed to hear Jeni expressing such a dangerous unscientific view based entirely on unresearched personal opinion and expressed with such conviction undermining efforts to eradicate these (and other) serious diseases. These are serious issues which should not be so flippantly thrown into the public arena.

    It is most surprising that Jeni Barnett is even considering action against those who try to point out the error of her ways.

    If Jeni and others like her wish to withhold health-promoting vaccines from children, have they thought about all moving to an island where no-one has been vaccinated or ‘fiddled-with’ thereby not posing a risk to others? Just a thought.

  125. becktimms said,

    February 7, 2009 at 12:29 pm

    I have posted this on my facebok – and i only hope that this helps get it out into the open.

    I completely agree with what you are saying and I believe that whilst everyone is entitled to their own opinion she is undermining the Government Department of Health, the World Health Organisation and the vast training that all Dr.s and Medical/Heatlhcare staff receive.

  126. Andrew86 said,

    February 7, 2009 at 12:33 pm

    Congrats for the fantastic phone-call, Yasmin.

  127. chatsubo said,

    February 7, 2009 at 12:41 pm

    Yasmin – you are a star. Its people like you that make me proud to work for the NHS.

  128. jodyaberdein said,

    February 7, 2009 at 12:59 pm

    Regarding polio vaccination:

    It is indeed true that there are a handful of cases of vaccine induced polio, and in countries with an extensive vaccination program this is the only polio there is. Far far fewer cases than epidemic polio.

    History in many ways repeats itself. No less than the broadcaster Walter Winchell accused the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis of stockpiling ‘little white coffins’ inpreparation for the Salk field trial.

    Perhaps reflective of a less cynical age there was considerable public outrage at the suggestion some states would withdraw from the trial and thus deny those children the possibility of protection.

    These people had experienced polio. They wanted a vaccine.

    I can highly recommend ‘Patenting the Sun’, Jane S Smith, for those so interested. Or you could just wikipedia ‘March of the Dimes’ and start from there.


  129. mikewhit said,

    February 7, 2009 at 1:01 pm

    Ahh well, come the H5N1 bird flu epidemic, I guess Jeni and her ilk won’t be needing _her_ jab.

    It’s their children I feel sorry for …

    Incidentally there was a bloke on Friday’s Today programme who didn’t let his kids have MMR but neither did he give them the single doses – again, “It makes you stronger doesn’t it ?” – Nietsche has a lot to answer for !

    He also mentioned T Blair’s refusal to answer the question on his son’s MMR status, as helping to spread FUD.

    I do think the Today items should have mentioned the word “unfounded” in its headline phrase of “vaccine safety scare”.

    (Grr – BBC used to give RealAudio links !)

  130. Dan12345 said,

    February 7, 2009 at 1:09 pm

    I agree with Cavoab and technollama (and I am a lawyer).

    The Court of Appeal has held that fair dealing for the purposes of criticising the original work is an expression of wide and indefinite scope which should be interpreted liberally, in light of both the exception in the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act itself and the the right to free expression in the Human Rights Act.

    This is a clear case of bona fide criticism in the context of a matter that lies in the public interest, and where you have no commercial motivation for your actions. The length of your excerpt does not seem excessive given the overall length of the programme.

    LBC are pushing their luck on this one. I would respond to them saying that you have taken down the clip, but that you reserve your position. You consider that your actions amounted to fair dealing under the CDPA and are in any event protected by the Human Rights Act. You will rigorously defend your position if the matter is taken any further.


  131. gadgeezer said,

    February 7, 2009 at 1:11 pm

    Yasmin, you showed grace under fire.

  132. ACH said,

    February 7, 2009 at 1:17 pm

    Yasmin, congratulations on keeping so calm under pressure and managing to get the science across, despite Ms Barnett talking over you and showing the most amazing level of ignorance. Maybe LBC should consider giving you an hour of prime time to counter that mendacious load of bilge.

  133. fiendishlyclever said,

    February 7, 2009 at 1:34 pm

    I was pleased to see quite a few people have joined the Facebook group (I have too now). Have also filed a complaint with Ofcom.

    How anyone listens to this odious woman spout her ill informed drivel for a whole show is beyond me.

    Yasmin – at least you tried to inform her :-)

    Ben – keep posting about bad science. Too often BBC/Daily Mail style journalism is used as a substitute for hard facts. The public need to know!

  134. kinginsan said,

    February 7, 2009 at 1:53 pm

    Yasmin, you did a great thing by calling into the show and standing up for evidence and rationality in the face of such blind and arrogant ignorance. Thank you so much. My hat’s off to you!

  135. mrkaplan said,

    February 7, 2009 at 1:59 pm

    We gave our child the MMR and, despite knowing it was the right thing to do, I fretted for days before and after.

    This kind of scaremongering needs to stop and Ben you’re right to take a stand.

    I understand you have a PayPal donate button somewhere but can’t find it. Ben, put it at the top of the page or post a link please.

    I’ll happily chip in £20 for a fighting fund – you only need nine others to do the same and you’ve got a couple of legal letters back to LBC telling them where to get off.

    If you need more later I’m sure we’ll all chip in.

  136. Honesty in Science said,

    February 7, 2009 at 2:05 pm

    So Ben you believe censorship will not backfire and will not lead to more people questioning of Honesty of the vaccine debate?

    When it becomes common knowledge that all debate is being stifled and the reasons why parents do not vaccinate are taboo the shit will really hit the fan.
    You will face charges of not being able to defend the science of vaccinations openly and honestly and not able to tpp publically refute the claims of the anti vaxxers.

  137. The Biologista said,

    February 7, 2009 at 2:30 pm

    Honesty in Science,

    The issue is not that the voices of parents are being stifled. And that’s certainly not what anyone’s calling for. On the contrary, the fears of parents have been the basis of pretty much every news story on the matter since Andrew Wakefield utterly failed to deliver the science.

    Ten years of debate based primarily on fear and anecdote. The media are starting to listen to the science now. That’s not censorship, it’s winning the debate, at least in one arena.

    Speaking of Wakefield, anyone else spot his message to Jeni on her first MMR blog?

  138. Indy said,

    February 7, 2009 at 2:31 pm

    Just read the transcript. Sigh. Here in NZ the only thing I know about Jeni Barnett is that she is the little dark-haired and verbose woman from Great Food Live or whatever it’s called. Why on EARTH would she wade into the MMR debate? Surely half an ‘-ology’ can’t make her feel qualified…..

    Does she think we, the scientific/medical community, just thought well shoot, we’ll just inject germs in the little babies, ’cause one of us has had an idea down the pub that might just work? Does she think she is the only person (aside from the homeopaths) that realised some serious thought should go into innoculation campaigns?

    What a waste all those years at Uni were, I could become a ‘broadcaster’ instead, whereby the microphone immediatley imbues one with all earthly knowledge!

  139. gimpyblog said,

    February 7, 2009 at 2:55 pm

    Blogged this myself now, with a bit of a homeopathic slant.

  140. evidencebasedeating said,

    February 7, 2009 at 3:09 pm

    It seems Ms Barnett has ‘An Audience with’ session coming up in Croydon late March.

    Doesn’t seem to mention ‘Nasty Injections to Worry Misinformed Parents’as a health topic to cover but given the extensive list of therapies and approaches mentioned it wouldn’t be far for Epsom John or London Ben to engage in some social discourse at said event – unless of course it’s rebilled as a monologue…

  141. fontwell said,

    February 7, 2009 at 3:14 pm

    I’ve just made my complaint to LBC – not that I expect much back from them.

    I rather enjoyed using the phrase “her fourth quartile opinions”. I think it still sounds insulting even if you don’t know what it means.

  142. gadgeezer said,

    February 7, 2009 at 3:17 pm

    HolfordWatch has posted Some Rebuttals to Jeni Barnett’s Canards in Her LBC Radio MMR Segment.

    Sketchy yet detailed in the way that HolfordWatch does…

  143. Millie said,

    February 7, 2009 at 3:30 pm

    Isn’t the point that this controversy has NOT gone away – and that nothing you, Ben, or the DoH or all the experts who have rubbished Wakefield et al for over a decade can make it go – despite £millions on pro-vaccine PR. So why hasn’t it gone? It hasn’t gone because everyone knows someone who believes – for want to incontravertible evidence the other way – that their child has been damaged by the MMR. These tragic families and the desperately sick children have never been permitted a hearing nor are their children looked at dispassionately. Doctors dread their careers being damaged in the way the careers of the 3 docs who initially raised the question have been. It’s not good enough just to call those who question the safety of the MMR ‘bad scientists’ or the ‘anti-vaccine lobby’. If the parents of the damaged children had been anti-vaccine they wouldn’t have given their children the MMR in the first place and there wouldn’t be this terrible and dangerous controversy.

  144. gadgeezer said,

    February 7, 2009 at 3:52 pm


    Doctors dread their careers being damaged in the way the careers of the 3 docs who initially raised the question have been.

    10/13 authors retracted their names from portions of the 1998 Wakefield study that allowed him to make that scare-mongering press conference. Those co-authors now state:

    We wish to make it clear that in this paper no causal link was established between the MMR vaccine and autism, as the data were insufficient.

    Dr Nicholas Chadwick had such grave reservations about the data and the interpretation of it in Wakefield’s 1998 Lancet paper that he refused to put his name on the paper (see above for links to his testimony).

    Who can forget the suffering endured by the little boy whose colon was punctured in multiple places during the investigations for Wakefield’s study?

    It might feel like there has not been a hearing but the Legal Aid case was discontinued for lack of credible evidence. In the US, the Autism Omnibus Hearings started last year and will probably continue for some years to come.

  145. ekcol said,

    February 7, 2009 at 4:07 pm

    Some questions for the people who know about copyright:

    Do Jeni Barnett’s ramblings really count as an original or creative work which is protected by copyright? Can I just slap a copyright symbol next to any old thing I say and it’s illegal for people to quote it in full? Furthermore, considering a lot of it consists of argument regurgitated from the internet, can LBC still claim ownership of it?

    I expect the answers are all yes, tbh. I’m sure what Ben did technically is illegal, it just shouldn’t be. Intellectual property rights rarely seem to coincide with artist’s actual moral rights.

  146. afterglow said,

    February 7, 2009 at 4:08 pm

    Finally starting to listen to the youtube postings of the broadcast. Finding it very hard to fight the urge to shout and throw things at the computer. WHAT a pile of rubbish. I cannot believe anyone would broadcast such uninformed nonsense.

    Thanks Ben for bringing this to our attention and I hope you find a solution to this mess.

  147. gadgeezer said,

    February 7, 2009 at 4:28 pm

    ekcol, Andres Guadamuz of Techno Llama gives a thoughtful and interesting legal opinion that comprehensively (to a lay person) covers fair dealing and other copyright issues: Bad Science meets bad copyright. He concludes thus:

    Beyond the strict legalities of the case, one has to feel that Bad Science has done nothing ethically wrong, on the contrary, the reproduction of the clip serves the public interest. Those who espouse the blatantly damaging view that MMR should be trashed, and worse, use their public standing to further such myths, should be held accountable. It is typical of those with indefensible positions to use, misuse and abuse copyright law in order to stifle debate (Scientology anyone?) Copyright law serves a clear purpose to society, but when it is used to censor and remove contrary opinions then the public interest should prevail.

    (via HolfordWatch collection of Jeni Barnett LBC Radio MMR links

  148. JQH said,

    February 7, 2009 at 4:46 pm

    Christ almighty! Listening to the clips had me shouting at the computer.

    Reading the transcript of her conversation with Yasmin was instructive. She was totally unable to hold her end up when debating with someone who actually knows what she is talking about.

    Blogged and commented on the transcript:

  149. Tomato Addict said,

    February 7, 2009 at 6:06 pm

    Spreading the word.

  150. kerledan said,

    February 7, 2009 at 7:04 pm

    jodyaberdein, thanks for the book about polio recommendation

    yes, I know there is a very small risk from polio vaccine but as adamwilcox says above, the only way to eradicate it is to vaccinate everybody. And this almost succeeded, almost.

  151. Millie said,

    February 7, 2009 at 7:45 pm

    Gadgeezer – re “We wish to make it clear that in this paper no causal link was established between the MMR vaccine and autism, as the data were insufficient.” Yes – they did say this and Dr Wakefield had and has never claimed that a causal link had been established. The Lancet paper said that work shd be done to investigate a possibe link. The doctors who published the ‘retraction’ did so as they had to counter the way the Lancet paper had been mis-represented by the media. It was this misrepresentation that caused the furore. Dr W had nothing to do with the boy you mention – he did not conduct the investigation. The fact that the boy poor was so ill had multiple causes – one of which was the botched colonoscopy. The scope was clinically indicated by his condition. The Legal Aid case was not concluded for lack of evidence. There is masses of evidence but the parents were threatened by one of the pharma cos with being sued for costs – essentially meaning they risked the loss of their homes – often the only security their children had – if they pursued the cases. The Legal Aid Appeal panel was so impressed by 11 of the parental cases that parents were granted up to £10,000 each to continue the cases. But, they had to buckle when bullied by the might of the pharma cos.

  152. gadgeezer said,

    February 7, 2009 at 8:37 pm

    It was this misrepresentation that caused the furore. Dr W had nothing to do with the boy you mention – he did not conduct the investigation. The fact that the boy poor was so ill had multiple causes – one of which was the botched colonoscopy. The scope was clinically indicated by his condition.

    The colonoscopy was conducted as part of the study – if you have a source for the claim that it was clinically indicated then I would be interested to see that.

    It seems a tad disingenuous to claim that Andrew Wakefield had nothing to do with over-hyping the implications of his deeply-flawed study (again, see Chadwick and Bustin) given his performance at the press conference and subsequently.

  153. EleanorC said,

    February 7, 2009 at 8:41 pm

    (I’ll post this on the correct thread this time.)

    Millie, what’s your basis for saying “everyone knows someone who believes … that their child has been damaged by the MMR”? I know a *lot* of parents, including some who have children on the autistic spectrum – and not one of them believes that.

  154. Circe said,

    February 7, 2009 at 8:43 pm

    This is an offensive attempt by the media to present a one-way monologue of uninformed lies while silencing debate over it. Good to see that corporate bullying is still alive and well.


    I hope Jeni Barnet will attend the funerals of those future unvaccinated kids that will die from measles and give her apologies. Oops I was wrong, but at least I had my moment of fame. Sorry you kid died.

  155. The Milligan said,

    February 7, 2009 at 11:02 pm

    For the sake of support for the amazing job you’ve been doing Dr. G., the full transcript plus links to the audio files are on yet another blog…

    If it comes to a “war chest” for any kind of legal defense, you can count me in!

  156. pv said,

    February 7, 2009 at 11:17 pm

    Millie said,
    February 7, 2009 at 7:45 pm

    …The doctors who published the ‘retraction’ did so as they had to counter the way the Lancet paper had been mis-represented by the media. It was this misrepresentation that caused the furore…

    It was Wakefield’s own interpretation that his colleagues retracted.
    According to Wikipedia:

    The retraction stated:
    “We wish to make it clear that in this paper no causal link was established between (the) vaccine and autism, as the data were insufficient. However the possibility of such a link was raised, and consequent events have had major implications for public health. In view of this, we consider now is the appropriate time that we should together formally retract the interpretation placed upon these findings in the paper, according to precedent.”

    There’s more here about Prof John O’Leary.
    And since we are discussing Wakefield then I suggest a read of the MMR story so far, as of January 2009.

  157. OBJohn said,

    February 7, 2009 at 11:30 pm

    I followed your link to complain to OFCOM – here’s what I got when I tried to register a complaint about a specific program and the form asked me to name the broadcaster.

    LBC 97.6:

    Sorry – we don’t have complaint contact details for the broadcaster you entered. You can view details of all licenced television and radio services at and

    I also tried entering LBC and LBC News with the same result.

    So the end result is that I can’t make an online complaint to OFCOM about LBC

  158. thepoisongarden said,

    February 8, 2009 at 12:21 am

    I’ve just seen this in the Sunday Times.

    ‘THE doctor who sparked the scare over the safety of the MMR vaccine for children changed and misreported results in his research’

    I’m not sure if it’s old news but it’s good that the ST is carrying it.

  159. CarlottaVance said,

    February 8, 2009 at 12:43 am

    Its probably old news to those in the know….but tomorrow’s Sunday Times has:

    [url=]”MMR doctor Andrew Wakefield fixed data on autism”[/URL]

    Interesting how the slant is on the role the Doctors played in the myth…..not the media….

  160. henrywilton said,

    February 8, 2009 at 1:59 am

    Millie said:

    There is masses of evidence but the parents were threatened by one of the pharma cos

    Millie, I think everyone here would love to see these masses of evidence. Seriously, you might be surprised by how open-minded they are. Evidence is their favourite thing!

  161. gadgeezer said,

    February 8, 2009 at 2:23 am

    THE doctor who sparked the scare over the safety of the MMR vaccine for children changed and misreported results in his research, creating the appearance of a possible link with autism, a Sunday Times investigation has found.

    Confidential medical documents and interviews with witnesses have established that Andrew Wakefield manipulated patients’ data, which triggered fears that the MMR triple vaccine to protect against measles, mumps and rubella was linked to the condition. [Brian Deer, Sunday Times, Feb 8, 2009]

  162. quixote said,

    February 8, 2009 at 3:18 am

    gadgeezer: interesting about that research! Doesn’t surprise me.

    However, I delurked to write my two cents’ worth. I’m an odd hybrid: Ph.D. biologist and Naturopathic Doctor, so I like to think I have a useful perspective on vaccination.

    1) The scientists are 100% right on this one.

    2)Any “homeopath” or “nutritionist” who argues otherwise is stupid, dishonest, or both.

    I received the ND at a school in Munich, and just about the first thing they taught there was identifying appropriate treatment. You don’t cure a broken leg with acupuncture.

    Considering how much fun it is to blame problems on weird people who know too much, I’m very afraid that it’s going to take a big epidemic and too many avoidable deaths before the media stop trying to make a buck on that crap.

  163. SunnyH said,

    February 8, 2009 at 4:33 am

    Hi Ben,

    Have blogged about it here too:

  164. mrs.webby said,

    February 8, 2009 at 7:35 am

    i’m a lawyer but not a media one so i will confine my comments on the legal side to the question of reserving of rights – which as you probably know by now is legal mumbo jumbo and means nothing at all.

    i’m also the parent of an autistic teenager. the MMR debate is something i have followed since he was a baby. a lot of our friends have autistic kids and quite a few decided not to have the MMR because of the media hype (after reading everything we could find we decided to have our son vaccinated). i don’t know if anyone has done research on the number of kids on the autistic spectrum who were never vaccinated but it might be instructive.

    the other thing that is horrible about this debate is that people talk of autism as though it was the worst thing that could happen to a family. if they found a ‘cure’ for autism tomorrow we wouldn’t want it. what we do want is a healthy child who is not unnecessarily exposed to dangerous illnesses that had all but been eradicated.

  165. Indy said,

    February 8, 2009 at 9:49 am

    Mrs Webby – Great point you make. I have an autistic brother. It is certainly challenging, but as you say, NOT the worst thing in the world to happen.

  166. adamcgf said,

    February 8, 2009 at 10:37 am

    Simon Bradshaw said… A lot of people here have rightly noted the limits on fair use. However, the Court of Appeal said in the 1971 case of Hubbard v Vosper that the limits of what could reasonably be quoted depended on such factors as public interest. A detailed analysis or rebuttal of a controversial work might, in Lord Denning’s (and his fellow judges’) view necessarily involve very extensive quotation from that work.”

    A way of demonstrating fair dealing could be to snip the extract up, to post audio clips of each relevant point and to respond to that point – even if that meant posting the whole thing again piece by piece. It’s a bit of a time consuming job but it’s technically very straightforward – I could certainly do it, but so could anybody who’d done even the simplest digital audio editing.

  167. Vaughan said,

    February 8, 2009 at 4:09 pm

    I noticed Jeni Barnett has deleted the posts from her own blog which contained a request for open debate, and hundreds of comments from open-debaters pointing out the flaws in her argument and how her irresponsible comments were.

    Check those missing days:

  168. daniao said,

    February 8, 2009 at 4:25 pm

    I notice on the Barnett’s blog that a contribution (no32 – in shouty caps) is from an Ann Coulter. Is that THE Anne Coulter? If so it’s hardly surprising she supports La Barnett. They make a fine pair.

  169. Ciaran said,

    February 8, 2009 at 4:53 pm

    Scary Scary stuff, was reading the comments on the youtube upload and 50% of them where like me too enraged to continue. Utterly dreadful.

  170. EleanorC said,

    February 8, 2009 at 5:04 pm

    Vaughan, they’re still there:

    She hasn’t posted my comment from two days ago though – and it was a polite one…

  171. Ciaran said,

    February 8, 2009 at 5:33 pm

    I have to say we ‘bad scientists’ (a collective sobriquet not entirely objectionable) seem to have conduct the most comprehensive, logically and empirically deconstructive blitz of comments on her blog I’ve ever seen. Not to mention overwhelmingly polite, feels like we’ve gone for a picnic on her comments page with a G&T in one hand and a Cochrane review in the other.

  172. michael said,

    February 8, 2009 at 6:40 pm

    having just re-listened to some of the segments on youtube I’m struck by how inconsistent and incoherent Jeni’s reasoning is on the show. It’s a testament to how far out of her depth she was that the goalposts are constantly shifting, making it impossible for any of the informed callers to make any real inroads when trying to reason with her. The biggest contradiction seems to be the changes in how she ‘frames’ children’s natural immunity – at one point they are robust, healthy beings who should be able to handle a mere virus like measles naturally. Later we are all delicate little animals, sensitive to the tiniest of changes and (apparently) forced to run up and down stairs following a cup of coffee! Even the status of her own child changes by the moment, at one point she has immunity issues leading to Jeni choosing not to immunise her, then when Yasmin pointed out that they would wait until she was well enough to be immunised, her child is suddenly completely healthy and does not need such trivial things as vaccinations. Similarly, at one point she asks why we don’t get single jabs, yet many of her arguments seem to be anti-vaccinations overall and not just MMR. The problem with all of this is that it makes her arguments unfalsifiable; we cannot demonstrate to Jeni that her theory is wrong because her theory is badly formed and incoherent. There are two causes of this: 1. she has not got a medical/scientific background, and 2. she has patently failed to research the topic thoroughly beforehand. This latter point to me was her chief failing and led to my Ofcom complaint, since I think as a broadcaster it is absolutely no excuse to air such unresearched theory simply because you are ‘a mother’.

  173. stmonan said,

    February 8, 2009 at 6:53 pm

    I am a lawyer specialising in copyright but I just read this site as a hobby and please don’t take this as formal advice but rather some off-the-cuff thoughts.

    What you are doing is something you could credibly argue is permissible under section 29 of the CDPA as fair dealing in material for the purpose of criticism and review. As others have observed. the one thing which is tricky here is the length of material you seem to have made available. If part of the criticism you were making related to the sheer length of the diatribe in question that may be a factor as it’s part of the nature of your criticism and review.

    In order to avail yourself of this you would need to ensure that the source of material was clearly acknowledged – i.e. reference LBC as the source – which it sounds like you have done.

    Here is a quote from Lord Denning explaining how ‘fair dealing’ works – interestingly, in the context of someone who had criticised L Ron Hubbard for some aspects of his teachings:

    “It is impossible to define what is “fair dealing.” It must be a question of degree. You must consider first the number and extent of the quotations and extracts. Are they altogether too many and too long to be fair? Then you must consider the use made of them. If they are used as a basis for comment, criticism or review, that may be fair dealing. If they are used to convey the same information as the author, for a rival purpose, that may be unfair. Next, you must consider the proportions. To take long extracts and attach short comments may be unfair. But, short extracts and long comments may be fair. Other considerations may come to mind also. But, after all is said and done, it must be a matter of impression. As with fair comment in the law of libel, so with fair dealing in the law of copyright. The tribunal of fact must decide. In the present case, there is material on which the tribunal of fact could find this to be fair dealing.”

    Hope this helps, happy to be emailed if that would be useful.

  174. The Milligan said,

    February 8, 2009 at 8:48 pm

    Just as an afterthought Ben, what has all this done for the sales of your MMR T-shirts?

    I know I bought one!!

  175. The Milligan said,

    February 8, 2009 at 8:51 pm

    > EleanorC

    Don’t feel bad, I’ve been cross-posting from my blog to hers ever since this hit the fan.

    No sign of anything yet.

    Mine probably isn’t as polite as yours though.

    “The Barmy Broadcast” and “The LBC Idiot” probably got it spiked.

  176. lightbulb said,

    February 8, 2009 at 11:44 pm

    I’m not a lawyer but I studied law (not copyright). Just to continue on the arguments about length of the extract (see stmonan above).
    The problem that taking a small extract from the broadcast can be considered as biased: Jenni may have ranted about someone or may have been mistaken about one element in the broadcast in a broadcast fully in favour of the MMR. Taking just one sample (the wrong one) would therefore have been unfair towards Jenni and taking things out of context. The only way to prove that this was not a ‘one-off’ but a sustained and systematic problem would therefore have required several longer extracts. The argument that transcripts would have done the job is not valid. Transcripts can not convey the emotions, tonality and context that an audio extract offers. It can only be fair that audio extracts are used when audio is used as the initial medium.

    Apart from this: for the e-mailing and writing public, you may want to follow the money. Write to the owners of LBC:
    I’m sure they are happy to hear from you.

  177. bunky said,

    February 9, 2009 at 3:04 am

    Just a quick one to note that Ars Technica have frontpaged the story now:

    I tried to listen to the audio but it was so rage inducing I had to turn it off ._.;;

    Keep up the good work Ben and everyone – much appreciated.

  178. placidw said,

    February 9, 2009 at 6:28 am

    I’ve just graduated from law school, and anything I could tell you about law has already been better explained by more experienced lawyer-commenters, but I do think it would be a good idea to go to an academic bookshop, get a decent intellectual property treatise and read the relevant parts on copyright infringement and defenses. They’re often pretty accessible and much more complete than the copyright books targeted at non-lawyers, especially when it comes to fair use defences (which are notoriously ambiguous). If nothing else, it’ll arm you with a little confidence and you’ll know if they’re trying to walk over you and what arguments they’ll have to pay attention to.

    You’ll still come across legalese that you don’t understand, but it’ll almost always relate to procedural issues of litigation rather than substantive IP law. That’s not to say that it’s not important, but you can google it for a general idea of what it means as long as you’re just reading it.

  179. cathyb said,

    February 9, 2009 at 10:29 am

    Following a link from this discussion, I see “LBC in legal warning to Ben Goldacre” is still prominent on the Press Gazette website, accompanied by seriously misinformed but unchallenged comments, eg from one long post:

    “When we had measles vaccines alone there was no fuss.

    When we had infants exposed to 3 live viruses at once there was a 50 fold rise in autism.”

    If this is a site used by lots of media people, maybe a Bad-Sciencer with the facts at their fingertips could reply, rather than leaving it unchallenged?

  180. Svetlana Pertsovich said,

    February 9, 2009 at 11:48 am

    The struggle with the epidemics of measles in the world and decuman protective role of vaccination.

  181. Jessicathejourno said,

    February 9, 2009 at 11:52 am

    Yeah, she’s crazy, you should publish what you want.

    Anyways, what’s wrong with single injections? Anytime I get any sort of immunization I feel like shit afterwards and I imagine kids do too, so perhaps if there’d be no significant problem with it I’d rather they got one at a time.

    Oh, and pre-emptively: I’m allowed to not know if there is a significant problem with single shots because A) I want to know B) I don’t cover medical issues and hence am not yet criminally misleading the public C) I don’t have any children I’m not jabbing and hence helping out with the rebirth of epidemics. So please don’t get shirty.

  182. emen said,

    February 9, 2009 at 12:03 pm

    Svetlana, thank you for this link.

    A few months ago, when we were discussing the measles issue on another thread here, I found a very similar picture in Hungary. Hungary has the system of compulsury vaccination, and as a result they haven’t had a case of measles since 2002.

    I have a feeling that the idea of compulsory vaccination and force-vaccinating will not be seriously considered in the UK, since it is all about informed choice here, but I think it is a good idea to at least mention it.

  183. spk76 said,

    February 9, 2009 at 12:09 pm

    Jessicathejourno: single vaccinations have many problems:

    1. the child is unprotected against the other 2 diseases after having the first jab

    2. 6 jabs are required overall instead of just 2 (consider the time, cost and inconvenience of getting children to clinics for 3 times as many jabs)

    3. the safety and efficacy of single jabs isnot proven, i.e. they do not have the decades of evidence and monitoring that the triple jab has had internationally

    4. single jabs are more costly than the triple jab (good for Big Pharma, bad for the NHS)

    5. the triple jab is free on the NHS, single jabs can only be obtained privately at a cost

    Overall, the introduction of single jabs would be expensive, would not offer the same level of protection as MMR, and is simply an unjustified measure that panders only to the media hysteria and not to clinical evidence.

    See, not shirty at all.

  184. ama said,

    February 9, 2009 at 12:35 pm

    Hi, all, please let me tell you some new background information: A 12 year old French girl died in Geneva recently (January 29th.) of measles encephalitis. She was not vaccinated. She had previously been in good health.

    Une jeune fille de 12 ans, jusqu’alors en bonne santé, est décédée le 29 janvier dernier aux Hôpitaux Universitaires de Genève d’une encéphalite due à la rougeole. La jeune fille habitait en France, à proximité de la frontière Suisse. Elle n’était pas vaccinée. Ce cas tragique confirme que la rougeole est une maladie dangereuse, souligne l’OFSP.

    Posted by: Tsu Dho Nimh | February 8, 2009 12:29 PM


    more in Orac’s blog:

    To add more beef, we were donated a new domain:

    There we have A LOT of free space. Do come in and join us!


  185. emen said,

    February 9, 2009 at 12:38 pm

    Michael, I also noticed what you point out:

    “at one point she asks why we don’t get single jabs, yet many of her arguments seem to be anti-vaccinations overall and not just MMR”

    Jeni is clearly a homeopathy fan (“allopathic” is a word that homeopathy uses to describe ANYthing that is not homeopathic, so if anybody ever uses it, you can be quite certain where they are coming from).

    A lot of homeopaths (although I guess not all of them and not just them) are against ALL vaccination, not just the MMR. Don’t underestimate the number of parents who choose not to allow their kids to have ANY of the jabs.

    But my problem is: can homeopathy then cure or prevent measles? or diptheria? Because it is one thing to tell parents that “natural immunity is better than putting artificial substances into your baby’s body”, another one to then take responsibility for treating the disease if the child gets it.

    I think it is tragic the way “MMR can cause autism” turned into “all jabs will cause some harm”. I’m personally very happy to live in the 21st century, vaccinated against measles and all, have access to antibiotics etc etc and have no desire to go back to the Middle Ages.
    More importantly, I don’t think any parent should be allowed to put their children’s life at risk this way. Parents are not allowed to kill their children, even if they are of the opinion that being dead is not a problem, really.

  186. doilum said,

    February 9, 2009 at 1:24 pm

    Thought you might be interested in my correspondence with LBC when I made a complaint about their decision to take legal action against you. This all happened through their complaints form so I found it a little odd:


    “I would like to complain about your decision to target journalist Ben Goldacre with legal action for posting a clip from your radio show on the internet. It is obvious he is acting to provoke discussion and
    debate and not in any way deliberately violating terms of fair use.”

    Reply sent to my email address:

    “He’s acting out of context and should have approached us first for comment. I call this fair play. The broadcast was four weeks old, we took action against the presenter and we’ve had subsequent debates on
    MMR. The presenter – who is sixty – now receiving abusive emails on top of the internal action. I call that bullying.

    Jonathan Richards
    Programme Director LBC News 1152 & LBC 97.3
    Group Head of News Global Radio”

    My reply, sent through the online complaints form as no return email address was supplied:

    “I recently complained and received a reply from Jonathan Richards. However I was hoping for confirmation that my complaint had been logged.”


    “I’m the Programme Director and deal with complaints. What further confirmation do you require?”

    My reply, again sent through the online complaints form:

    “I want confirmation my complaint has been LOGGED, not that you’ve read it.”

    Then finally: “I will log in our system.”

  187. penglish said,

    February 9, 2009 at 1:34 pm

    Responding to some of the comments…

    Mq “Why didn’t you offer to go on Ms Barnett’s show so that you could rebut her claims and debate the issues with her?”

    Many of us are very nervous about debating with the likes of Jeni Barnett. She, and other antivaccinationists, are often highly verbally skilled, and good at emotional arguments. They are very good at trying to trip us up with previously unpublished so-called evidence; by trying to force us to make impossible claims (“prove to me that it’s never harmed anybody…”) and making us look foolish when we can’t. They are quite prepared to say whatever will win the argument, or score points, safe in the knowledge that we can’t effectively penalise them for telling the most blatant lies, that many of the listeners won’t recognise the lies as such, and that, as familiar, friendly voices, they are more likely to be believed by their listeners than we are.

    We are arguing on their territory, using their tools.

    That doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t be prepared to take them on; but it’s not easy, and if we’re not sufficiently skilled, we could make the situation worse.

  188. Dave The Drummer said,

    February 9, 2009 at 1:36 pm

    Just complained to Ofcom about the broadcast.
    Hope it helps.
    I too have the full recording of the show that came down via iTunes and am happy to send it to anyone who wants a copy. It’s a 41Mb MP3 file.

  189. penglish said,

    February 9, 2009 at 1:37 pm

    Grumpy Bob asked about the use of mercury…

    This is all about the use of thiomersal (as it’s known in UK – it’s called thimerosal in America). There’s lots of evidence that thimerosal is safe. It’s a preservative, so it’s never been used in MMR (or in the separate vaccines). It does contain mercury, so it’s being phased out where possible, but it’s been extensively investigated, and is not harmful.

    It would certainly be good to edit the wikileaks page.

  190. -RobW- said,

    February 9, 2009 at 1:38 pm


    You can only say “really my question is: what is wrong with childhood illnesses?” if you haven’t seen any childhood diseases really, can’t you?

    Maybe that’s the problem. Our life expectancies and general health are so good these days that almost anything looks like it works.

    “I haven’t had cholera today! It’s the crystal healing!”

  191. ama said,

    February 9, 2009 at 1:39 pm

    If you went into such a radio show you would be presented as a fool. You do not have the power over such a radio talk, so the one with that power will abuse you. This is why I say that we must noch talk WITH these people, but ABOUT them.

    As soon as they see what we are doing, they have foam in their face. :-)

  192. Lou said,

    February 9, 2009 at 1:41 pm

    I listened to the broadcast when Ben put it up – and at first wasn’t sure whether to laugh or cry. Having now taken a week to get over it, I felt that it was time for me to join the masses – I’ve emailed Ofcom my complaint, and I hope nothing comes of the legal threats Ben has received.

    Keep chasing down all the pseudo science out there!

  193. penglish said,

    February 9, 2009 at 1:42 pm

    mrs.webby commented ” i don’t know if anyone has done research on the number of kids on the autistic spectrum who were never vaccinated but it might be instructive”.

    That is, indeed, exactly how some of the studies have been done. Various types of study have been done:

    – Studies comparing rates of autism or autism spectrum disorder (ASD) with measles or MMR uptake rates. If there were a link, you’d expect to see ASD rates following MMR rates – they don’t.

    – Studies comparing children who were given MMR with children who weren’t given MMR. Autism/ASD rates are the same in both groups.

    – Studies comparing children with autism/ASD (cases) with control groups. The cases were no more likely to have received MMR than controls.

    And so on…

    See e.g. or for links to more information on the science.

  194. -RobW- said,

    February 9, 2009 at 1:42 pm

    I meant to add “infant survival rates” or something like that into the “life expectancy” bit. Jetlag.

  195. penglish said,

    February 9, 2009 at 2:01 pm

    Measles mortality.

    Antivaccinationists, as I’ve mentioned, are good at confusing people with facts that they don’t fully understand. They may point out that vaccination has increased the death rate. This is true. The reasons are as follows:

    – Measles, like many childhood diseases, is most serious in infancy, less serious (but don’t underestimate it!) from the age of about 2, and then more serious again after puberty.
    – Herd immunity is the effect you get when most of a population is immune to a disease: when people are protected against a disease by the fact that they never come across it, because hardly anybody can catch it and pass it on.
    – Before you introduce a vaccine, nearly everybody catches very infectious diseases like measles early in life. So practically everybody is immune by the age of 12 or so.
    – When you introduce a vaccination programme, because most are already immune, you rapidly achieve herd immunity.
    – If vaccine uptake rates aren’t high enough, the number of susceptible (non-immune) people in the population rises fairly gradually, over years.
    – Eventually there are enough susceptibles in the population to sustain an outbreak. But by this time, quite a few of the susceptibles will be older, and more at risk of death and other serious complications of measles.

    The absolute number of deaths, however, remains far lower than in pre-vaccination times; but the proportion of cases that die of the disease (the case fatality/mortality rate) can rise.

    The UK “bible” on vaccination, the “Green Book” ( quotes mortality rates from the 1980s of one in 5,000 cases.

    In the Dublin outbreak in 1999-2000 there were 1603 reported cases, 111 hospital admissions and 3 deaths.

    In Majuro Atoll, Marshall Islands, July to September 2003, there was an outbreak of measles in which:
    – 647 cases met the case definition, 15 (2%) of them lab confirmed
    – 74 additional met “suspected” case definition
    – there were 3 deaths.

    These high mortality rates are a reason to work harder to improve vaccination rates, not an argument against doing so.

  196. -RobW- said,

    February 9, 2009 at 2:12 pm

    “If it’s a viral thing and childrens’ immune systems are strong, what’s the problem?”

    Is this implying that any virus is only a problem if you don’t have a strong immune system?

    I’m not in any knowledgeable about medicine or biology, but that seems silly to me.

  197. Svetlana Pertsovich said,

    February 9, 2009 at 2:24 pm

    Thank you very much.

    Yes, Hungarian system of compulsory vaccination really resembles our system, and it rescues them.

    Sadly and deplorably, if UK doesn’t want to consider the idea of compulsory vaccination. This is the only good idea which can rescue them now. UK has good system of state Public Health. Vaccination against measles (and similar dangerous infections) can be carried out as national campaign. And I think that the state funding of this campaign must be found even in period of economic crisis, because it is very important action. The question is about the health of children and young, most employable citizens (mainly up to 35 years old).
    Actually, it is the question of state policy and it must be raised before government, Parliament itself and concerned Ministries.

  198. kerledan said,

    February 9, 2009 at 3:01 pm

    I had a poke around the anti-vaccine ‘JABS’ website just now and found a classic video by one Richard Halvorsen.

    Good grief! Who is this bloke?

    (Warning: this may induce Jeni-like levels of wtf in some viewers)

  199. Jessicathejourno said,

    February 9, 2009 at 3:28 pm

    No, spk76, that was lovely, thank you. I don’t benefit from the NHS; it’s hilarious that radio commentators who do speaking to people who do are so happy to run roughshod over the social cost factors. How bourgeois and individualistic. Margaret Thatcher would be proud.

  200. Dr Aust said,

    February 9, 2009 at 3:50 pm

    Richard Halvorsen is a GP who sells single vaccines as a private service, and presumably makes a tidy living. More about the doc here.

    Halvorsen wrote a dire book about vaccination, and often shows up as a “here is a real doctor who is on our side” figure when the anti-vaccine lot are reaching for authority figures. The words “conflict of interest” might spring to mind.

    Talking of “authority”, the pitch for Halvorsen’s book on his website starts:

    “I have spent many years investigating childhood vaccines, frequently writing and talking in the media.”

    On the other hand, if you ask

    “Has Halvorsen ever published anything in the proper scientific and medical literature about vaccines or vaccine safety?”

    …answer came there “none”.

  201. The Biologista said,

    February 9, 2009 at 4:07 pm

    ““If it’s a viral thing and childrens’ immune systems are strong, what’s the problem?”

    Is this implying that any virus is only a problem if you don’t have a strong immune system?

    I’m not in any knowledgeable about medicine or biology, but that seems silly to me.”

    It is indeed. Strong immune system or not, an unfamiliar virus can do a hell of a lot of damage before adaptive immunity kicks in and that can take days to weeks depending on the nature and extent of response needed. The damage done by a virus is only partially based on the strength of a person’s innate immune system, the part which kicks in immediately. It’s a blunt tool and can be overwhelmed by a very high dose of a virus, or subverted by a very “sneaky” virus.

  202. penglish said,

    February 9, 2009 at 4:42 pm

    The idea of compulsory vaccination isn’t as straightforward as it sounds. I wrote an article about this recently for Vaccines in Practice ( issue 2), and there’s a better article in the Lancet:

    Salmon DA, Teret SP, MacIntyre R, Salisbury D, Burgess MA, Halsey NA. Compulsory vaccination and conscientious or philosophical exemptions: past, present, and future. Lancet 2006;367(9508):436–42 (

  203. Andy Graham said,

    February 9, 2009 at 5:34 pm

    This is not in any way sound legal advice. For that go preferably to a barrister or other qualified legal professional. However, here are four things which might have worked if you’d had the money:

    1) Claim a public interest defence. Your argument would be that it is in the public interest that fraudulent and dangerous views are challenged and that the only effective way to challenge such views is to present them (by copying) and then criticise them. Essentially, if a judge thought that you served the public interest and that you didn’t copy more than you needed, you might get lucky and win. I think your arguments in your post would serve admirably as an argument to present to the judge.

    2) Claim fair dealing for the purposes of criticism and review. One relevant case involved L Ron Hubbard, who was denied an injunction to prevent quoting of “substantial portions” (i.e. more than is acceptable in a standard fair dealing defense) of a Scientology pamphlet because it served the public interest to allow someone else (a former disciple) to criticise the pamphlet and the religion in a book. The case is called Hubbard v Vosper and it went to the Court of Appeal.

    3) (Daft idea) In the case against Peter Wright (who wrote Spycatcher) the judge declared that his book “reeked of moral turpitude” and therefore attracted no copyright. This is not a popular defense to copyright infringement but might apply here!

    4) (Even dafter) In order to attract copyright a work needs to be the result of due skill, labour and judgement. I think we can all argue against both the skill and judgement aspects of this radio broadcast.

  204. gadgeezer said,

    February 9, 2009 at 5:51 pm

    I have lifted all of the following from Holfordwatch’s coverage (with permission).
    I would direct interested readers to The Expert on Measles, Dr Diane Griffin. Dr Griffin is the editor of the definitive Field’s Virology and her status is such that she has contributed the chapter on measles for the last 3 editions. She gave testimony at the Autism Omnibus Hearings in the US. She details the remarkable immunosuppressant effects of the measles virus (see pg. 2738 onwards, Day 11 Autism Omnibus Hearings pdf). It seems that measles not only challenges the immune system itself, it suppresses response to other challenges so most deaths from measles are related to secondary infections.

    So there is a period of time which is initiated during this acute phase that children are more susceptible to other infectious diseases. So this is a very clinically important complication or outcome or by-product of measles and all of the data suggests that it’s clinically related, as I say paradoxically, to the fact that the immune system is so activated and so engaged in making a response to measles that it is not appropriately positioned to respond to some new challenge that comes along at this same time… [pg. 2768]…
    So a number of viruses that are particularly pathogenic, actually, have figured out how to block the interferon response in order to have a better chance of really causing a more severe disease. And wild-type measles seems to be among those viruses that can do that…[pg 2772]
    We forget in the US what a serious disease [measles] was and why it was such an early target for the development of a vaccine, because the [mortality] is substantial. And the mortality is substantial, even in developed countries. It’s less in developed countries but it’s substantial. And if everyone gets it, that’s a lot. [pg. 2797]

    And it is generally acknowledged that measles is so contagious that every child with measles infects 15 others (pdf)which rather highlights Dr Griffins’ warnings that the no. of children who contract it is so high that even a comparatively low mortality rate can produce a high number of deaths.

    As No Sleep ‘Til Brooklands says:

    I can imagine that in an alternate universe somewhere the NHS has withdrawn the MMR vaccine, citing a 12-subject preliminary study claiming a link to autism, in which the doctor involved reportedly tweaked his results. In that universe, The Mail is running screaming headlines about every subsequent child death from measles, and columnists are suspicious that the decision to withdraw was merely financial, that the NHS and Government have simply decided that letting a few kids die of measles is ‘cost-effective’.

  205. gadgeezer said,

    February 9, 2009 at 5:52 pm

    Missing link: And it is generally acknowledged that measles is so contagious that every child with measles infects 15 others (pdf).

  206. gadgeezer said,

    February 9, 2009 at 6:15 pm

    On the issue of MMR safety and why single jabs are not advisable (via Holfordwatch and with permission).

    For readers concerned about the safety of MMR, AP Gaylard has usefully produced a table of what Dr Paul Offit styles as “Studies exonerating MMR”, drawn from Offit’s book, Autism’s False Prophets (Gaylard has thoughtfully provided the full references and links to online content, where available.)

    As for the issue of single jabs, major charities have reviewed this issue and they have come to a very different conclusion. I would urge interested readers to download and study the Sense Position Statement on the issue of MMR because it also responds to the calls for single jabs.

    An immunisation strategy can only ever be effective if there is mass uptake, meaning that choice between single vaccines and MMR cannot be part of an effective vaccination programme. One of the difficulties with MMR uptake is that, while the prevalence of measles, mumps and rubella in the UK is low, the incentive to vaccinate can appear less. From the perspective of an individual parent, the risk of their child contracting an infectious disease can seem small compared with the risk of possible (or perceived) adverse reactions to immunisation. However, this is only true if vaccination levels remain high. It is actually the counter-argument to this view that is the rationale for vaccination programmes – that the risk of vaccine damage is extremely low compared with the risk of the ill-effects of contracting the disease.

    At the same time, low uptake of rubella vaccination could actually have worse consequences than no uptake. If there were no vaccination against rubella, then most people would catch rubella in childhood and would subsequently be immune. A low uptake of vaccination would mean that the virus would still be able to circulate, but that fewer children would become immune in childhood. Outbreaks of rubella would be less common than the epidemics that would occur with no vaccination, and so a cohort of unvaccinated and un-immunised children would increase each year and get older, with the burden of the disease shifting to those who are most at risk. Thus the impact of an outbreak in terms of congenital rubella syndrome births could be greater.

    For MMR vaccination to be effective, uptake needs to be above 95%: this is why boys as well as girls need to be vaccinated. From 1970 to 1988, schoolgirls were vaccinated against rubella, and this did have some success in reducing the number of rubella births. However, the real breakthrough came in 1988 when MMR was introduced for all children. This reduced rubella births by a further 90% – there were 447 congenital rubella births between 1971 and 1980 and 38 between 1991 and 2000…

    Thanks to vaccination, rubella damage is now rare. However, this means that many people do not realise how dangerous rubella can be. In the United States, people from the Amish community have exercised their right for their children not to be immunised against rubella. As a result, in 1995, one baby in 50 born to Amish parents was born severely rubella damaged…

    It has been be argued that even if the Government believes MMR to be safe, they should provide single vaccines as an alternative because then more children would be vaccinated. However, there is absolutely no evidence to support the suggestion that allowing single vaccines would lead to a greater uptake of MMR, and a significant amount of evidence to show that it would have the opposite effect. Single vaccines would be less effective than MMR and there is no evidence that they would be safer. Sense believes that it is unethical to promote six invasive procedures instead of two without sound scientific support, and when there is evidence that such a strategy would have negative effects. [They then give their reasons and some very good, supportive figures.]…

    parents may opt not to vaccinate their children, particularly their sons, against rubella. This would lead to increased risk to pregnant women. Unvaccinated boys can catch rubella and go on to infect pregnant women, including their own mothers. This is exactly what happened before MMR was introduced….

    [Reprise of what happened the last time single vaccines were offered because of a (groundless) vaccine scare.] In the 1970s, following a decrease in uptake of the diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis (DTP) vaccine, single vaccines for pertussis (whooping cough) were offered, with diphtheria and tetanus vaccines given separately. What happened was that over half of parents chose to vaccinate their children without the pertussis component. Coverage fell from 80% to 30%, there were three epidemics of pertussis, thousands of hospital admissions and around a hundred deaths. It took nearly fifteen years for vaccine uptake levels to recover…

    [Sense list of recommendations] The Government should continue to offer MMR and should not make single vaccines available as an alternative.

  207. JoanCrawford said,

    February 9, 2009 at 6:44 pm

    Is it worth contacting people with experience in this sort of legal headache?

    Private Eye printed a ‘bad science’ article of their own in the current issue.

    I’m pretty certain that they would be more than happy to give you the time of day.

    In fact, I wouldn’t be entirely surprised to see this little furore in the next issue.

  208. fraserjopp said,

    February 9, 2009 at 7:24 pm

    Ms Barnett appears to have deleted all comments from the two blog entries covering this matter on her site, and is refusing further ones, saying ‘the entry does not exist’. Comments are still available on other areas of her blog (e.g. ‘I am pogged on dumplings and custard cakes.’) are still available.

    I may be wrong, but this doesn’t seem like the action of someone who is ‘interested in the debate’.


  209. NorthernBoy said,

    February 9, 2009 at 8:18 pm

    I’ve emailed private eye with a link to this entry, along with a suggestion that they could perhaps go some small way towards redeeming themselves for previously taking the anti-vaccination track if they highlight LBC’s mendacity while at the same time as supporting the scientific consensus.

    I am not holding my breath, though. They do seem to prefer a “little man against the big corporation” storyline to the truth.

  210. daniao said,

    February 9, 2009 at 8:29 pm

    Re fraserjopp (#214)
    Yes, I noticed that the barnett blog has miraculously slimmed down for the only 2 interesting entries there. I suppose a malicious person might suggest we all swamp remaining discussions (eg the one about the barnett pigging out in chinatown) with queries about mmr. Or what she means by “I am interested in the debate not a witch hunt” if she deletes all comments contributing to the debate.

  211. ama said,

    February 9, 2009 at 8:39 pm

    Am I mistaken or did that horrible Kodderschnauze (sorry, don’t know how to translate THAT… :-)) erase ALL comments concerning her desastrous derailing?

  212. EleanorC said,

    February 9, 2009 at 8:48 pm

    … if you should want to, for any reason …

  213. michael said,

    February 9, 2009 at 8:48 pm

    @daniao – maybe it’s worth just respecting Jeni’s wish to no longer continue the debate, it’s her blog and she ultimately has a say over what’s posted there. We can hope she has taken on board the comments from those opposed to her viewpoint, and their criticisms of her actions. We can also hope she’s decided to tread very carefully when tackling such an emotive topic, or at least do some even rudimentary research. Though forgive me for being a little sceptical about both of those! Either way, lets remember that this has begun to resemble something of a persecution and Jeni’s become the focus for a wider anger at inappropriate media hysteria. I can sympathise that she probably is feeling quite harassed and stressed by the whole thing. I, and others, have complained to Ofcom about the broadcast, and as far as I’m concerned it’s for them to deal with Jeni and her editorial team. The copyright issue is probably little to do with her personally, and I’d be tempted to see it as a separate matter.

    I’ve never listened to Jeni’s radio show before, for all I know she’s normally an excellent radio chat-show host. Listening to the transcript, as I commented in an earlier post, it’s clear she was way out of her depth on this occasion. It’s important to remember that this is also the fault of her editorial team. A 3 hour show is not made spontaneously and this was a significant discussion, it must have been planned and discussed. The editorial team should have helped Jeni to research, and advised her appropriately, instead of allowing her to run off at the mouth with unfounded opinions.

  214. spk76 said,

    February 9, 2009 at 10:26 pm

    What a pity all the comments on her blog have been removed – allowing such a free and open debate on her site was pretty much the one thing that people were commending her for.

    So much for her being “interested in the debate”.

  215. michael said,

    February 9, 2009 at 10:59 pm

    Hers isn’t the only blog where comments are going missing … I posted on here a couple of hours ago and that post seems to have mysteriously disappeared. In it I’d suggested, in summary, that maybe it was best not to harass the woman on her own blog seeing as many have already complained to Ofcom, and to remember after all that she is the mouthpiece for a show that will involve a number of editors, producers, ‘researchers’ etc. They all share the blame. … wonder how long this post will last?

  216. michael said,

    February 9, 2009 at 11:00 pm

    oops! my post seems to have returned – sorry!!

  217. stephenfry said,

    February 10, 2009 at 1:29 am

    The fatuity of the Jeni Barnett woman’s manner – her blend of self-righteousness and stupidity, her simply quite staggering inability to grasp, pursue or appreciate a sequence of logical steps – all these are signature characteristics of Britain these days. The lamentable truth is that most of the population wouldn’t really understand why we get so angry at this assault on reason, logic and sense. But we have to keep hammering away at these people and their superstitious inanities. We have to. Well done you and well done all you supporting. I’ve tweeted this site to my followers. I hope they all do their best to support you. Publish and be damned. We’ll fight them and fight them and fight them in the name of empricism, reason, double blind random testing and all that matter.

    Stephen xxx

  218. stephenfry said,

    February 10, 2009 at 1:30 am

    “and all that matters” – I should ended with. Damn. Ruined the effect. !

  219. ignatz mouse said,

    February 10, 2009 at 1:34 am

    Let’s hope JB uses the same reasoning when it comes to installing anti-virus software.
    I just posted a complaint to Ofcom. First time i’ve ever complained about anything.It was worth the wait.
    Good on’ya Ben.
    More Bad Science podcasts, please!?

  220. Bemused Wolf said,

    February 10, 2009 at 1:37 am

    Just got this from Stephen Fry’s Twitter, along with over one hundred and sixty thousand other people.

    If even just half of them complain, it’ll surely get a result for you.

  221. ginger said,

    February 10, 2009 at 1:44 am

    Its amazing how people manage to get away with spouting such ill-informed claptrap. The media is the last great unregulated body. When will ‘evidence based journalism’ be introduced where sources have to be cited so you can scrutinise he evidence yourself to make informed decisions?

    If we take the lead from Jenni Barnett and use the cigarette analogy – if anyone went public and outright promoted cigarette smoking there would be uproar against them – there is so much overwhelming scientific evidence to say that cigarette smoking is harmful. In the same way, she is promoting a practice which an overwhelming body of evidence says is harmful i.e. not vaccinating.

    This could be just another sad example of the media being uninformed and presenting ill thought out opinions as fact. The saddest, and quite frankly deeply upsetting part of it all is that as a direct result of the media frenzy, children (and potentially adults later in life) will not only be killed but permenantly and seriously disabled.

    On the other hand, if journalists seriously consider the MMR vaccine to be a cynical money-making exercise, then consider the real cost – a couple of quid for a vaccine, hundreds of thousands of pounds for a lifetime of care for a severely disabled child.

    The insult thrown at the medical profession is also sad. That a professional body which spends its entire working life attempting to improve the quality of life of those within its care would knowingly put those same people at risk is preposterous. ‘Evidence based medicine’ is the order of the day – everything done for a patient has to have proof of benefit behind it, be it a medication, a procedure or an investigation.

    Evidence has to stand up to scrutiny and the Wakefield paper does not. Why is it that one badly researched and poorly written paper condemns an entire profession? What is the motive for this entire professional body to to abandon all ethical and moral principles to participate in what would have to be a mass deception of global proportions?

    Jenni Barnett should not be condemned however tempting that is. For a long time, the mass media perpetrated a fraud on the population. It is not suprising that the hype is still believed whether in public or private. A suitably knowledgeable person, in posession of all the facts should sit down and have a sensible conversation. Review the evidence – ALL the evidence; for AND against. The only way you can make an informed decision is to be in posession of all the facts.

  222. lucifer said,

    February 10, 2009 at 1:56 am

    The full audio is also available here:

  223. Johnathon said,

    February 10, 2009 at 2:10 am

    I’m locking down this site. New comments won’t appear till the lockdown is rescinded, but they should be stored for later display.

    On the up side, all you guys coming in from Stephen Fry’s Twitter shouldn’t take this site offline :-)

    Johnathon – Positive Internet on-call Engineer

  224. mandrill said,

    February 10, 2009 at 3:01 am

    I have posted about this on my blog at

    I have also created torrents of the audio for those who know of P2P filesharing and they can be found at either:

    This kind of magical thinking cannot be tolerated in the media of the 21st century. Jeni Barnett should be pilloried and shown up as the ignoramus that she is.

  225. bf said,

    February 13, 2009 at 4:44 pm

    She seems to have deleted her MMR blog post(s) entirely now.

  226. Kactus said,

    March 30, 2009 at 9:35 pm

    It makes me SICK that this woman thinks it should be a priority NOT TO FRIGHTEN PARENTS rather than give them accurate information and an informed choice. From reading the transcript of part 6.

    *calms down*

    They need to teach basic scientific methodology in primary schools so that people stop using anecdotal evidence to frighten other people. In fact I’m going to try and teach my kids this as early as possible when I have kids, I’m going to take responsibility for filling any gaps I feel have been left by schools. Why do people think it is their right to do whatever they want? With rights come responsibilities! If you have the right to make decisions about your child’s health and vaccinations and so on, you have the responsibility to base that decision on proper information, not on anecdotal evidence and fearmongering. You have the responsibility to make sure that your decision doesn’t harm other kids around yours, or society as a whole. How difficult a concept this seems to be!

  227. Loster said,

    June 8, 2009 at 10:48 am

    I come down on the side of Ms. Barnet, I have to admit. I don’t think we can take out of the equation the fact that pharmaceutical companies make ridiculous sums from the creation, marketing and sale of vaccines (how many more types of vaccine are appearing all the time).

    One thing also confuses me. If vaccines are supposed to create immunity how can an unvaccinated child be a danger to a vaccinated one? It doesn’t seem the herd immunity argument holds up to me.

    I believe there are powerful political and economic forces at work in this arena, and they are much better trained at rhetoric than most of us. Goldacre does an amazing obfuscatory job here; focusing on his part as victim of corporate bullying, all the while his pro-vaccine message gets delivered to the reader “under the radar” and as if it where a fact. This article is also a great testament to the power of internet marketing; the memes in this article will have now infected countless net users (like a virus!) and will be making the national mind up more and more .

    Ultimately, one has to ask oneself. IF, just IF vaccines have (even in just isolated cases) caused conditions as serious as autism (and there SEEM to be no shortage of parents willing to testify to this – I met one on the train to Manchester once!), isn’t this reason to pause and re-consider the hard line approach?

    Of course the empiricists will probably come back with “just follow the evidence” but if the evidence (i.e. which studies are accepted, which are denounced as works of the devil) is subject to the same economic and political biases that all other areas of modern life are, how can we trust it? Doesn’t personal testimony (of parents) have greater value here?

    Just as with smoking, just as with mobile phones, there are MASSIVE disincentives to corporate powers for any link with childhood damage to be established. It is no wonder that Wakefield was disgraced and now Ms. Barnett is being vilified.

    I don’t doubt that people like Jeni Barnett are not the most scientifically trained or informed, but there is a good case opposing vaccines, and it isn’t going to go away as Millie above says. There may even be some truth in it, who knows?!

    It just doesn’t seem to make sense to be injecting preservatives and some animal tissue with culivated viruses on them (I am also not the most informed here) into the blood streams of young children, before they have adequate defenses against such toxins. I mean, please, ask yourself, could it be true that vaccines are not the benign public saviour of our children they are touted to be?? Could they be more about business than public health?

  228. wayscj said,

    November 21, 2009 at 6:15 am

    ed hardy ed hardy
    ed hardy clothing ed hardy clothing
    ed hardy shop ed hardy shop
    christian audigier christian audigier
    ed hardy cheap ed hardy cheap
    ed hardy outlet ed hardy outlet
    ed hardy sale ed hardy sale
    ed hardy store ed hardy store
    ed hardy mens ed hardy mens
    ed hardy womens ed hardy womens
    ed hardy kids ed hardy kids ed hardy kids