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GMC clears “MMR risk row GP”

28 August 2007

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A GP accused of misleading a court over the risks of MMR and other vaccines has been cleared by the General Medical Council (GMC) of serious professional misconduct.

The GMC heard that Dr Jayne Donegan, a GP in Herne Hill, south London, had “convinced herself” of the dangers of vaccines, which caused her to give false evidence in the court case.

But after a three-week hearing before the organisation’s Fitness to Practise Panel, Dr Donegan was cleared of failing in her duty of impartiality by deliberately giving biased expert witness testimony.

The GP had given evidence in a court case at Winchester High Court in 2002 in which the mothers of two girls, aged four and 10, opposed proceedings started by their fathers to compel the youngsters to be vaccinated.

Dr Donegan submitted two reports as an expert witness and gave evidence to the judge, Mr Justice Sumner, backing the mothers’ stance in opposing the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine and other childhood immunisations.

She was accused of quoting selectively from medical reports, and omitting information that did not support her views.

The GMC began proceedings against Dr Donegan, alleging she acted unprofessionally and brought the medical profession into disrepute by failing to present an objective, independent and unbiased view.

However, the panel concluded that while some elements of Dr Donegan’s evidence gave a “misleading impression”, she had not tried to mislead the court and cleared her of all charges.

General Medical Council

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“I’ve read through the complete transcripts of the GMC hearing. Of course she should have been cleared. The core of the GMC’s case was that experts should pay attention not to the content of a study but the conclusions. This is an idiotic idea” – Name and address supplied