The UKIP MEP and Andrew Wakefield
Posted by gimpy on October 12, 2010
Andrew Wakefield is a discredited scientist who was struck off the medical register for acting against the interests of his patients and conducting research in a dishonest and irresponsible manner. He is speaking at an event today hosted by Marta Andreasen, a United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) MEP. Ms Andreasen is an interesting individual who was sacked by the European Commission for refusing to sign off accounts after claiming the EU accounting system was open to fraud. Since then she has campaigned for changes to EU accounting rules and in 2007 joined UKIP, becoming their treasurer, before resigning this position over the management of their finances although she remains in the party.
It is curious to see an MEP with a strong sense of ethics, even though she lacks a scientific background, supporting an event featuring as noxious a character as Andrew Wakefield. UKIP may have an eccentric approach to scientific issues, they have not, to my knowledge, expressed an opinion on Andrew Wakefield and the discredited assumption that their is a link between vaccination and autism. In fact they do not seem to have an official opinion on autism, even if their members occasionally try and link it to things with which they disagree, such as certain types of lightbulb.
Ms Andreasen was contacted last week about her hosting of the event with Andrew Wakefield, however she did not reply. Thus, it is not possible to know her motivations, or her understanding of the issues. However, there are some clues as to her involvement.
Kathy Sinnott, a former MEP and target of this blog for her association with one of Matthias Rath’s, the man who believes people do not need to take HIV/AIDS drugs, organisations is also speaking at the event. She supports Wakefield’s discredited theories through her presidency of ‘The Hope Project’ (PDF), a charity dealing with learning disability.
Ms Sinnott’s former press officer and brother-in-law, Richard King, now works for Ms Andreasen and is the point of contact for enquiries about the event. As well as working for Ms Andreasen, he also worked for the Independence/Democracy group in the EU parliament, a eurosceptic grouping formerly chaired by UKIP’s Nigel Farrage and before that Kathy Sinnott.
It is possible that Ms Andreasen may be involved at the request of Mr King and Ms Sinnott and might not have been aware of the controversial nature of Sinnott’s views on autism and MMR. It is also possible she did not reply to a statement of these concerns because she has not read it.
Regardless of Ms Andreasen’s understanding of autism, MMR and Andrew Wakefield there have been unpleasant previous associations between eurosceptic groups and fringe thinking organisations. As well as Ms Sinnott’s association with Matthias Rath’s organisations, the Democracy Movement, who Ms Andreasen has supported, have also chosen to work with him.
Supporters of eurosceptic parties and MEPs should be worried about a growing tendency to work with some of the most odious characters working in the field of pseudoscience. Such associations will only tarnish their credibility, even MEPs such as Ms Andreasen who are prepared to lose their job for their principles will not escape the sulphur that surrounds Wakefield and Rath.