Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Wakefield's Legal "Justice" Fund

A website has recently been launched so that you can donate to Wakefield's Legal Justice Fund.  A legal fund such as this may be set up as a non-profit, tax-exempt charity.  The questions arise; what can one do with the funds once litigation has concluded and why does he need this fund since he is not impoverished and has also enlisted the legal services of his friend, William Parrish?  Parrish, by the way is not an expert in defamation/libel law but rather an intellectual property and business tort lawyer.

Another question arises and that is, why did the Wakefield camp wait until nearly a year, when the statute of limitations for libel was up if the BMJ series about him was so damaging and defamatory?  The first BMJ report on Wakefield was published 5 January 2011 and Wakefield filed suit on 3 January 2012.  Wakefield has unsuccessfully sued Deer in the UK and was Wakefield's undoing actually because the discovery provided Mr. Deer with the children's anonymised medical records.  A formidable hurdle for Wakefield to clear in his latest debacle is Texas' Anti-SLAPP law which not only may not allow him to present his case to a jury but leaves him vulnerable to court, legal and punitive costs owed to Brian Deer and Fiona Godlee (editor of the BMJ).  Of course this will be interesting to see how it plays out in the end but I don't think it will end well for Dr. Wakefield, although that may be what he intends.

As usual, Liz Ditz is aggregating various media discussions on this topic.