An eminent doctor is celebrating a dramatic victory after the High Court ruled that a decision to strike him off over the MMR controversy was unlawful.
Professor John Walker-Smith had been found guilty of professional misconduct following accusations of taking part, without ethical approval, in controversial research that caused a global scare by suggesting a link between the MMR vaccine, bowel disease and autism, a claim rejected by the vast majority of scientists.
The doctor, who is in his 70s and retired, denied allegations that he had participated in the research under the guise of carrying out clinical investigations and treatment of young patients.
He said the treatments, including lumbar punctures and colonoscopies, were clinically indicated and were necessary for the purposes of diagnosis and treatment, but not for a research project.
He said he was “extremely pleased” his striking-off had been quashed and now hoped “to enjoy my retirement with my family”.
He paid tribute to his supporters who included the parents of many children with autism and bowel disease seen by him at the Royal Free Hospital in north London up to his retirement in 2001.
In May 2010, Prof Walker-Smith lost his licence to practise along with Dr Andrew Wakefield who was at the centre of the MMR research.
A GMC fitness to practise panel found both men guilty of misconduct over the way the research was conducted. Its verdict followed 217 days of deliberation, making it the longest disciplinary case in the GMC’s 152-year history.