Contributing Editor John Stone reports from London:
Six days before Brian Deer’s latest attack on Andrew Wakefield – his first Sunday Times journalism for 18 months – it was announced that the proprietor of the Sunday Times and London Times newspapers, James Murdoch, had been appointed to the board of MMR manufacturer, GlaxoSmithKline. The Guardian’s version of the story reported:
“He will serve as a member of GSK’s corporate responsibility committee, where he will help to review “external issues that might have the potential for serious impact upon the group’s business and reputation”.
Deer’s article was followed by a string of attacks on Wakefield’s integrity in the Sunday Times’ sister newspaper, The Times of London.
In 2005 the House of Commons Select Committee on Health noted in its groundbreaking critical report ‘The Influence of the Pharmaceutical Industry’:
“Public relations is particularly important during times of bad publicity, especially when the safety of brands is called into question. Considerable resources are invested into building long-term, sustainable relationships with stakeholders and ‘key opinion leaders’ and journalists. These relationships are used to promote the use of certain brands and counter concerns relating to safety. Efforts to undermine critical voices in particular were identified, under terms of “issues management”. ”
Read further the Child Health Safety blog.