False accusations of Munchausen by Proxy, The Truth Behind the Label: Part 2 – Vaccines, a differential viewpoint


Christina England

(Part: 1 | Part: 2 | Part: 3 | Part: 4 | Part: 5 | Part: 6)

Vaccines, a differential viewpoint

For many years professionals have been linking adverse reactions to vaccines with autism, neurological disorders, sudden infant death and symptoms mimicking those of shaken baby syndrome, however, professionals are now also linking adverse reactions to vaccines with a rise in false allegations of child abuse. These come in the guise of MSBP, SBS and murder after a child dying of SIDS.

One of the first professionals linking adverse reactions of vaccines with SIDS is Prof Gordon Stewart. He wrote a large number of papers including one in the Lancet in 1979 “Deaths of infants after triple vaccine Lancet 2; 353″ listed here on work by Professor Gordon Stewart under a letter he wrote to the BMJ . The letter details much of Stewart’s in depth work in the 1970’s showing links that he had seen to the vaccine DPT and children dying suddenly of SIDS. Part of the letter relates to Sally Clark, a British women jailed for the killing of her two children after they had died cot deaths Prof Stewart says:-

Stewart (1976), GT; Immunisation against whooping cough; British Medical Journal, 31 January 1976; letters:

This correspondence recalls your earlier reports about the conviction of Sally Clark for murder in trials for the sudden deaths of her two infants, and about her own death after the conviction had been annulled. I am writing about this because on 18th August 1999 I was approached by solicitors in Manchester who were defending Mrs Clark against the charge of having murdered her two infant sons, Christopher in 1996 and Harry in 1998. They asked me to read and advise them on reports on these deaths by paediatricians, pathologists and other experts beginning with the autopsies performed by Dr Williams, the Coroner’s pathologist at Macclesfield, Cheshire.

I found, as Dr Williams did, that the two deaths were different and that for this and other reasons, the reports sent to me were confusing, contradictory and inconclusive. None of them offered a conclusion fulfilling the requirement that a verdict of unnatural death had to be beyond reasonable doubt, so I wrote back to the defending solicitors to say that a charge of murder was unjustified. The same opinion was given by one of the experts, Professor John Emery, a leading authority in the UK on Sudden Unexplained Infant Deaths (SUID). Christopher had been cremated but Professor Emery had conducted a second autopsy on Harry in the presence of another expert witness. He was unable, under the circumstances, to give a definite opinion about the cause of death but he did exclude, as I did, unnatural death due to murder. We agreed that the deaths were different and noted that Harry had received an injection of triple vaccine about 4 hours before his death which could have occurred after admission to hospital. I had already asked the solicitors for more details, and was awaiting a reply from them to enable me to write a fuller report.

I was therefore astonished to read some months later in The Times that Sally Clark had been tried at Chester Crown Court and found guilty of murdering her two infant sons. I wrote immediately (on 24th April, 2000) to the solicitors questioning this verdict. They did not reply but I learned that neither Professor Emery’s report nor mine had been quoted in Court, and that conviction by the jury had apparently been based on the Judge’s acceptance of the opinion of Sir Roy Meadow that the chance of the second death (of Harry) being natural in the circumstances was one in 73 million. I regarded this as an absurd and unproven statistic, and was surprised also that the Defence had failed to refer to Emery’s report and mine which were favourable to their client.

The solicitors in Manchester did not reply to a second letter but I then received a call from a new solicitor (JB) who wanted to consult me about the verdict, and his instruction by Sally, her husband and father to appeal against it. They were consulting me because Dr W H (Bill) Inman, former Principal Medical Officer at the Ministry of Health and Chief Medical adviser to the Committee on the Safety of Medicines had recommended that they should do so because of my experience with vaccines. We arranged a meeting at my home and he came there with Sally’s father (FL) and more evidence. We discussed the case and the reasons for appeal for several hours, and arranged a further meeting, at Sally’s father’s residence in Salisbury where he had been Superintendent of Police until his retirement, A long sequence of telephone calls, correspondence and a further meeting followed, and led to the Appeal, which was rejected by three Judges who sidelined the one in 73 million statistic. Additional evidence was available from a professor of paediatric neurology and a professor of epidemiology, both from centres of excellence respectively in USA and UK. Their opinion was that the injection of pertussis vaccine given along with other vaccines was more likely than not to have been the cause of Harry’s death, and that Christopher’s death was different.

All of this and much more clinical and forensic detail about the two deaths is available in the transcripts, correspondence and especially in the book Stolen Innocence by John Batt, all of which contain additional reasons for questioning the conviction. For instance, it was revealed that the medics who transported Harry alive to the hospital in Macclesfield and the three doctors – a casualty officer, a registrar and a consultant paediatrician – who examined and tried unsuccessfully to revive him were not called to give evidence. There is no proof anywhere that the vaccines used (DTP/Hib/Polio) cause death but the pertussis component was the whole cell preparation are known to be associated with apnoea, shock, encephalopathy, and very occasionally with deaths, which led Sir Graham Wilson, former and first Director of the PHLS, to say in his book on Hazards of Immunization that life-spoiling and threatening reacticns, especially after pertussis vaccine and in the context of incomplete or non -protection were too frequent to justify mass vaccination. These features, widely-recognized internationally, led some countries in the 1960’s and others later to omit pertussis from childhood programmes and to replacement of the whole-cell vaccine with an acellular replacement. In the UK, this did not happen until 2006. It should be noted also that the three main manufacturers of pertussis vaccine in the UK and 10/13 in the USA withdrew their products between 1978 and 1986. These facts are important because vaccination is compulsory in most States of the USA and some in the EC. This removes the safeguard of parental option, respect for contraindications and medical discretion.

This information was understandably lacking in Clare Dyer’s short article. Sally Clark was acquitted after five years in prison only because bacteriological reports about a questionable staphylococcal infection had been with-held by Dr Williams and others from the previous hearings. The success of Dr Williams’s appeal ensures that expert witnesses can overlook or with-hold essential evidence without fear of the penalty that can be imposed legally on criminal defendants, of whom Sally is just one.
[2008] Rapid Responses to Does cot death still exist?

The most interesting fact about the Sally Clark trial was the Expert Witness used by the prosecution was Professor Roy Meadow who had known for some years that adverse reactions to vaccines and SIDS were linked. He knew about Prof Gordon Stewart’s work and had had access to his papers when they were discussed because he was a member of the Joint Committee of Vaccination and Immunization in the UK, this is the committee who advises the British Government on the safety of vaccines. As a member of the JCVI he sat on meetings in the 1980’s Sir Roy Medows Meetings hearing the evidence of links between the DPT vaccine and sudden infant death. However. despite this knowledge and clear conflict of interest, he has testified as an expert witness in many trials where parents have been accused of child abuse and refused to acknowledge that vaccines may have contributed to their child’s condition or death.

In the article Professor Sir Roy Meadow reports: Michael Nott: A Failure to Learn Michael Nott an advocate for mothers accused of Munchausen Syndrome (factitious illness) by proxy says:-

Meadow was struck off by the British General Medical Council (July 2005) for serious professional misconduct relating to statistical evidence he gave at the trial of Sally Clark. At his professional misconduct hearing, Meadow’s principal defence was that he had not held himself out and should not have been treated as an ‘expert’ witness in child abuse. However, he has written numerous articles and edited books on child abuse. He forged a substantial career as an expert witness in this area. In Australia, he has presented himself as an expert in child abuse, provided expert opinions on cases involving deaths of children and MSBP, and has liaised with many Australian professionals on the issues.

According to Stephen Clark, Sally Clark’s lawyer husband, when Meadow was asked to produce the data supporting the evidence at his wife’s committal hearing (and which underpinned his entire career) he initially prevaricated, then eventually admitted he was unable to do so because his secretary had ‘shredded it’. This meant that his evidence could not be properly tested.

Clark said Meadow was found guilty of serious professional misconduct not simply because he made a one-off mistake. ‘It was because he gave “misleading and erroneous evidence” outside his expertise that was “compounded by repetition over a considerable period of time”, the British General Medical Council (GMC) found. Meadow went on to embellish it and failed to disclose evidence that provided balance.’

Clark said the GMC rejected Meadow’s arguments that he was not an expert and that everyone except him was to blame. ‘The GMC determined that Meadow had “abused” his position as a doctor and may have seriously undermined the authority of doctors giving evidence.’

Stephen Clark made the point that at Sally’s second appeal hearing 12, leading British and international medical experts made statements, with varying degrees of certainty, but all to the effect that following the discovery of medical reports which had previously not been disclosed, his son Harry had died from an overwhelming bacterial septicaemia. The appeal court, Clark states, held that Meadow’s statistics were ‘grossly misleading’ and ‘overstated’ and sufficient on their own to make Sally’s conviction unsafe.

The statistical evidence that Clark is convinced resulted in the original false conviction of Sally Clark and the disbarring of Meadow has been used in a similar fashion at the committal hearings of a NSW woman who was subsequently convicted of killing her four children. The USA professional, Dr Janice Ophoven, who provided the statistical evidence for the woman’s committal hearings also gave expert opinion in a similar case in Victoria.

Meadow is also responsible for the child abuse belief of MSBP, or Munchausen syndrome (factitious illness) by proxy (The Lancet, 1977) that is widely accepted in the child protection sector, police and judiciary in Australia. The basis of this allegation is that a parent or other carer has deliberately fabricated or induced an illness in a child. There is no scientifically-based evidence to support Meadow’s beliefs that were based on anecdotal comments on two of his patients. Meadow fails to consider other reasons for a child’s death or illness. These include vaccination damage, adverse reaction to drugs or the combination of drugs, toxic poisoning, allergies to foods or food additives or an adverse reaction to chemicals, genetic problems, doctor negligence or misdiagnoses and the like. Rather, when the matters are fully investigated there are compelling evidentiary alternatives to an unsupported belief that a mother killed her child or caused the child to be sick”.

Mr Nott studied law at the University of Western Sydney and was a senior media and communications officer for Australian federal and state government departments and agencies and was formerly a journalist.

Lisa Blakemore-Brown was one of the first professionals in the world to notice a link between vaccines, the children she was assessing with Autism and false accusations of child abuse called Munchausen by Proxy (MSBP). She voiced her fears and suspicions again and again but instead of being listened to, she was ignored and patronised.

In June 1998 an article appeared in The Therapist written by Lisa Blakemore-Brown, this was a year after Sir Roy Meadow had himself written an article for The Therapist. She was asked to write this when on reading Lisa Blakemore-Brown’s letter in the ‘Psychologist’ Psychologist letter the Editor of the The Therapist contacted Lisa Blakemore-Brown to ask if she would write an article showing the opposite view to start debate. The Therapist article began :-

A young mother took her son for one of the routine vaccinations of childhood. That night he developed a dangerously high temperature and soon afterwards started banging his head, soiling and gradually lost all his language. His behaviour became erratic, he couldn’t relate to others and he was difficult to control. Investigations followed which led to the diagnoses of Asperger’s syndrome, a form of autism. Suspecting that the vaccination might have been the cause, although nothing could be proven, the mother decided not to have her next three children vaccinated.

As time went on she kept pestering the social services department for respite care, because she found her eldest boy so difficult to deal with. She became to been seen as a bit of a nuisance. It was suggested despite the known diagnoses of Asperger’s Syndrome that his symptoms might perhaps of been induced by the mother herself. An expert was called in and she was accused of Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy (MSBP). – deliberately her child. Her two youngest children were taken into foster care and the youngest was taken from the foster home against the mothers wishes to be vaccinated. Instantly and tragically , the child’s behaviour deteriorated in the same way her eldest brother’s had done.

The foster mother had videotapes of the little girl’s behaviour before and after the vaccination and yet the younger children are even now being put up for adoption.”

This is just one of many of Blakemore-Brown’s accounts of a change of behaviour immediately after vaccination, and a subsequent MSBP accusation.

In a speech she gave in 2005 at the House of Lords Lisa Blakemore-Brown
speech at House of Lords
she said :-

The range of conditions on the increase in the last few years include: Apnea, Reflux, Allergies and food intolerances, gastro-intestinal problems, autistic spectrum disorders, ADHD, ME/CFS etc. It is the mothers whose children have these conditions who are likely to be accused of causing them or exaggerating them. All of these have been implicated in iatrogenic abuse, which is NEVER considered as part of the differential diagnosis, for some curious reason. Auto immune disorders, congenital abnormalities, birth trauma and the greater likelihood of problems given prematurity, are simply not considered as the suspicion of the demonised mother in the MSBP theory swamps reasoning.

In a Survey of families undertaken in 2003 and presented at Portcullis House, mainly from the Isle of Wight but including others experiencing the same problems of feeling blamed for their children’s difficulties and being totally unable to access appropriate services for them, over 80% felt blamed and targeted, over 70% felt the process was highly stressful and over 90% felt frightened. Amongst this group, 28% of the babies were in Special Care Baby Units and 13% were prescribed essential medication during pregnancy. The range of their children’s problems echoed those listed above as having increased dramatically over the last few years, with over 70% displaying obsessional behaviour and literacy difficulties, over 65% suffering from anxieties, attentional problems, social exclusion and learning difficulties, 50% suffering from motor impairments and bowel problems, over 30% suffering from allergies and 30% suffering from depression.

The effects of Vitamin K and C deficiencies following vaccines in vulnerable children have been misinterpreted as fractures or cigarette burns. (Kalokerinos 1981, Innis 2002. Clemetson 2002) and Professor Meadow’s own paper makes interesting reading in this regard. Mercury effects from thimerosal in vaccines (Simpsonwood meeting 2000) are never introduced as part of the differential diagnosis. Neither are the side effects of drugs such as Cisapride given for gastro-intestinal problems, now taken off the market due to serious side effects and sudden death”.

Dr Michael Innis another professional worried about the false allegations of child abuse, has been speaking on the issues of Vitamin K and C deficiencies following vaccines, in vulnerable children, that have been misinterpreted as fractures or cigarette burns for many years. He says in his paper [pdf] Vaccines, Apparent Life-Threatening Events, Barlow’s Disease, and Questions about Shaken Baby Syndrome by Michael D. Innis, MBBS that

Apparent Life-Threatening Events (ALTEs), as defined by the National Institutes of Health, encompass all the findings hitherto attributed to .Shaken Baby Syndrome. (SBS), and may follow

routine vaccination. Vaccines may also induce vitamin C deficiency (Barlow.s disease), especially in formula-fed infants or infants whose mothers smoke. This could account for some of the changes seen in these infants, including haemorrhages, bruises, and fractures. Vitamin C deficiency should be excluded in patients suspected to have SBS”.

Another worried expert is Charles Pragnell who left Britain to work in Australia. Pragnell has a Diploma in Social Work and Letter of Recognition in Child Care and is Expert Witness – Child Protection and Social Care Consultant and Child/Family Advocate. He has written many articles on the subject and in 2007 he wrote one called Iatrogenic Child87 Abuse and another Vaccines and Child Abuse Accusations he stated-

There can be no debate that some vaccines cause very serious injury and even death, to some children. This has been recognised by both the British government(1980) and the U.S.A. government (VAERS Act 1986) for over 20 years and both governments have provided compensation schemes to families with children who have suffered such adverse reactions. Under both Schemes doctors are required to report every adverse reaction of a child to a vaccine to a central government body but it is reasonably estimated that less than one in ten are so reported.

Many parents in many places around the world have given personal testimony that following the administration of vaccines to their child, the child has become seriously ill within hours or days. Such illnesses have taken many forms but commonly they are febrile, listless, and some are reported to have experienced epileptic seizures.

Within days or a few short weeks, parents report that their child then takes on a totally different personality – they are distant, unable to make eye contact, they are constantly restless and hyperactive – “they have gone into their own little world” is an often stated assessment by the parents. The parent, quite naturally, becomes extremely anxious and fraught as they lose contact with their child. They want their child to be healthy and normal, as the child was in the first few weeks after birth. So what has happened they wonder?.

In the Britain, the parent will usually seek help and advice from the Health Visitor and perhaps their General Practitioner but this is when they are hit with the first of the `Double Whammies’.

The Health Visitor reports them to the Child Protection agencies as their child is “failing to thrive” and is not reaching its expected developmental milestones. They are seen as over-anxious and if they seek a second medical opinion, they are accused of `Doctor-shopping’. In the UK they are then called to a Child Protection Conference with all the assembled professionals usually after being subjected to an extremely invasive child protection investigation. They are not allowed representation although they are being accused of a criminal offence of neglecting their child and they are summarily found guilty merely on the opinions and suppositions of the professionals present, many of whom they have never met before. Their child’s name is placed on the Children `At Risk Register’ and they are now branded and stigmatized as `Child Abusers’ in their local community. They can expect no sympathy nor understanding from their neighbours, friends, or even some of their relatives, many of them with the horrifying thought, “there but for the Grace of God, go I” .

If they are fortunate, the parents will only experience this state of stigmatization and the accompanying isolation and societal condemnation, if they are unfortunate the matter will be taken to Court and the child will be removed from their care, often permanently. Child Protection agencies are reluctant to take this latter step, not because they think the parents are innocent or can manage the care of the child, but because such children with mental and/or physical disabilities are not usually suitable for adoption or long-term fostering which would be immensely expensive to the agency.

Health Visitors, Doctors, and social workers lack the knowledge, or find it incomprehensible, or simply collude in the Dept of Health propaganda that “vaccines are safe” and deny even the possibility that the vaccines are to blame for the child’s mental or physical disabilities and developmental delays. To challenge the received wisdom of the Department of Health would be a heinous sin in professional circles with appropriate chastisements and sanctions likely to follow.

But worse is to follow for the parents of the mentally and/or physically disabled child. Firstly they are left to cope alone with the demands and needs of their child who requires almost 24 hours a day supervision, sometimes has to be fed, and their personal care needs met. The parent becomes gradually and totally exhausted and emotionally and mentally drained. But worse awaits them – the Triple Whammy!. If they have been persistent with seeking help for their child or just lucky, they may have obtained a diagnosis by a psychologist that their child is autistic within the Spectrum of Autistic Disorders and requires special education provision suitable to his/her needs. The child is probably now aged 7. 8. 9, or 10 years. They then face years of battling with the Education Authority to obtain a Statement of Special Needs and even when this is finally achieved, and usually only after appealing to a Special Tribunal, the Education Authority can’t or won’t make the appropriate provision. Either because the Special Schools in the area have all been closed under the central government policies of `integrating’ all disabled children into mainstream schools or because the Education Authority do not wish to bear the very high costs of such special education.

Although it can occur earlier, it is usually at this point that the parent is accused of `Fabricating or Inducing the Child’s Illness/Disability’ a catch-all theory of child abuse based on the scientifically fraudulent and infamous `Munchausen Syndrome By Proxy’. The parents are stunned – it is unbelievable!. They are now accused of causing their child’s autism or other disability, perhaps Asperger’s Syndrome, or ME/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, or Cystic Fibrosis, or ADHD, or any combination of these disabilities or diseases. !.”

Dr Harold Buttram also an expert concerned that parents are being falsely accused of child abuse after their child has suffered an adverse reaction to a vaccine, wrote the paper Dr Harold Buttram
Shaken Baby Syndrome And Non Accidental Injury Are Parents and Care Givers Being Falsely Accused?
In his introduction he says:-

These cases fall in three general categories: (1) Shaken Baby Syndrome (SBS), in which it is assumed that a parent or caretaker, exhausted and irritated by a fussy baby, picks up the infant by its chest or heels and shakes the baby with such violence that any onlooker would recognize it as excessive and dangerous. (2) Non-accidental trauma in which there may be incidental head or body impact against a solid object during the shaking, and (3) infants with multiple fractures. The latter is addressed in a separate monograph. Based on personal observations of more than 10 years, in each of these categories there have been patterns of precipitous diagnoses of inflicted child abuse without first establishing a differential diagnosis and ruling out other possible causes of the findings. Due to these deficiencies, many parents and caretakers are being falsely accused and criminally convicted. In any other medical speciality, these failures to establish a differential diagnosis.”

He goes on to say later in the paper –

One of the gross errors throughout the history of childhood vaccines has been a failure to take into account the fatty nature of the brain, a large portion of which consists of polyunsaturated fatty acids and therefore highly vulnerable to inflammatory lipid peroxidation.”

Lisa Blakemore-Brown remains convinced that professionals are covering up the truth in favour of blaming the parent and said as much in a letter to the BMJ rapid responses. Sadly the letter was not published in full and one can only presume from this, that this was due to her blunt honesty which left some with a bitter taste. The group One Click News did however print this in full a few weeks later Omissions Prove What is really going on in the system. In the letter Blakemore-Brown makes her feelings very clear.

Adverse reactions to vaccines are well known”

Everyone working in public health knows that there are adverse reactions to every drug and vaccine that’s ever been manufactured. These reactions are multiple and have been studied by medics for decades. What is shocking is that instead of admitting this, extraordinary efforts have been put in place to damn those who dare to mention them, including the innocent parents who took their child for vaccine and watched them react. Ms Coombes, sad to say, joins the ranks of the establishment who will do anything rather than admit that sometimes vaccines cause adverse reactions to some people. That includes blaming the parents and hounding them to their own graves.”

After studying the above evidence from many experts worldwide and bearing in mind that this is only a small fraction of the growing volume of professionals speaking out for parents who now believe that their false accusation of child abuse, came after a vaccine injury, it begins to paints a very scary picture of what is really going on in the world of child protection. Are parents being falsely accused of injuring or even killing their children in a bid to hide what is really going on and that is that vaccines are not the quick fix to a healthy world after all?

(Part: 1 | Part: 2 | Part: 3 | Part: 4 | Part: 5 | Part: 6)

About the author

Christina England, BA Hons