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Independents' Day

Judge took dim view of GP's 'junk science'

Is the Dr Jayne Donegan who writes about mumps and MMR (Letters, December 1) the same Dr Jayne Donegan who, in the judgment of Mr Justice Sumner, 'allowed her deeply-held feelings on the subject of immunisation to overrule the duty she owes to the court'?

In July, the judge ruled that, despite their mothers' objections ­ supported by Dr Donegan's testimony ­ two children should receive immunisations. The judge fully endorsed a comprehensive critique of Dr Donegan's submission (which was based on references to 120 papers) by paediatrician Dr Steve Conway.

She was accused of 'being confused in her thinking, lacking logic, minimising the duration of a disease, making statements lacking valid facts, ignoring the facts, ignoring the conclusion of papers, making implications without any scientific validation, giving a superficial impression of a paper, not presenting the counter argument, quoting selectively from papers, and of providing in one instance no data and no facts to support her claim'.1

The judge indicated he was satisfied that Dr Conway 'was not over-critical' and he also upheld further criticisms by Professor Kroll, an immunologist at Great Ormond Street, concerning 'selective quotations' and 'unsubstantiated claims'.

It was Dr Donegan's evidence that Lord Justice Sedley dismissed as 'junk science' at the subsequent appea · 2. Given that Pulse has twice publicised Dr Donegan's views3 I think it is important your readers are more fully informed about this judgment.

Dr Michael Fitzpatrick

London N16

1 Sumner (2003). Judgment between A&D and B&E, neutral citation number [2003] WEHC 1376 (Fam) at cases/EWHC/Fam/2003/1376.html

2 Thorpe, Sedley, Evans (2003). B (Child), Neutral Citation Number: [2003] EWCA Civ 1148 at cases/EWCA/Civ/2003/1148.html

3 'GP expert's court ordeal over MMR', Pulse June 23, 2003, p4; 'Wild mumps infection carries low risk of serious complications', Pulse, December 1, 2003, p22

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