February 25, 2024

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BBC’s response to my complaint about lack of disclosure of conflicts of interest on Newsnight ‘anti-vax’ program

Elizabeth Hart

My complaint to the BBC regarding the Newsnight program Why the anti-vaccination movement is wrong, which was broadcast in September 2018.  You can view the segment via this link: https://www.dropbox.com/s/u5ex0u4acn1wlel/BBC_Two_England-2018-09-19_22-32-52.mp4?dl=0  (I’ve prepared a transcript of this program.)

I was alerted to this program by a post on David Healy’s blog, i.e. I’ve caught her virus & she’s caught mine, published on 19 November 2018: https://davidhealy.org/ive-caught-her-virus-shes-caught-mine/

To set the tone, the program’s presenter, Emily Maitlis, leads in with the obligatory reference to “the discredited and mendacious doctor Andrew Wakefield”

My initial complaint about this BBC program focused on the lack of disclosure of conflicts of interest of one of the participants in the program, i.e. Dr Pauline Paterson of the Vaccine Confidence Project. I’ve included the relevant emails detailing my complaint in the thread below.

FYI, see below the response I’ve received from the BBC, i.e. from Adam Cumiskey, Newsnight’s Chief Programme Producer, who edited the show in question.

As you can see, Mr Cumiskey has had to acknowledge that the Vaccine Confidence Project has received funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, GSK, Merck, GAVI, Wellcome Trust, National Institute for Health Research, European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, the European Commission, 3ie and the Innovative Medicines Initiative.

It is a serious matter that this conflict of interest information re Dr Pauline Paterson and the Vaccine Confidence Project wasn’t disclosed during the Newsnight program.

I hadn’t heard of 3ie and the Innovative Medicines Initiative, so I’ve done some checking on these organisations.

Here’s the link to the 3ie website ‘About us’ page, which indicates it’s a sort of Cochrane organisation: http://www.3ieimpact.org/about-us

The International Initiative for Impact Evaluation (3ie) is a global leader in funding, producing, quality assuring and synthesising rigorous evidence. We support studies and reviews that examine what works, for whom, why and at what cost in low- and middle-income countries (L&MICs). We are also a global advocate for the generation and use of quality evidence in development decision-making.

3ie is a membership organisation with a global network of members and key partners.

Who are 3ie members? http://www.3ieimpact.org/about-us/3ie-members

3ie members are public and private donors, government agencies from low and middle-income countries (L&MICs) and NGOs. Together they form a diverse global community, united by a commitment to using evidence from rigorous impact evaluations and systematic reviews to improve their policies and programmes. 3ie members support or implement at least US$1 million in development programming per year. Learn more about 3ie membership and benefits on our governance page.

And when we click on the US region on the map provided we discover that…drum roll…the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is a 3ie member, what a surprise…not

What about the Innovative Medicines Initiative, what is this?  Apparently it’s “the world’s biggest public-private partnership in the life sciences”, see more here: https://www.imi.europa.eu/about-imi

Any Gates’ connection? But of course! See: IMI launches Euro115 million Calls for proposals to develop vaccines & medicines of the future, which will see IMI collaborate with Bill & Melinda Gates Foundationhttps://www.imi.europa.eu/news-events/press-releases/imi-launches-eu115-million-calls-proposals-develop-vaccines-medicines

Crikey, the influence of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is everywhere, they’re running the show!  

Really, we have to do something about this…  Bill and Melinda Gates are pushing they’re own expensive and zealous vaccination hobby horse, without adequate transparency and accountability.  Their activities are impinging on the rights of the world’s citizens and their children in regards to bodily autonomy. 

This is a most serious political matter that must be urgently investigated, particularly conflicts of interest.

FYI, see the email response from BBC Newsnight’s Adam Cumiskey below, plus my previous correspondence with BBC contacts on this matter.

I’m considering further complaints to the BBC about this Newsnight program, and the BBC’s appalling coverage of issues relevant to international vaccination policy.


———- Forwarded message ———
From: Adam Cumiskey <[email protected]>
Date: Thu, Jan 17, 2019 at 9:23 PM
Subject: Newsnight complaint response
To: [email protected] <[email protected]>

Dear Ms Hart,

Thank you for your note regarding the introduction we gave to Dr Pauline Paterson on Newsnight (September 2018). I am the show’s Chief Programme Producer and edited the show in question.

Since the VCP began, the research team has received funding from a range of organisations. These include:

–              National Institute for Health Research
–              European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control
–              The European Commission
–              Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
–              Merck & Co.
–              GlaxoSmithKline
–              Wellcome Trust
–              Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance
–              3ie
–              Innovative Medicines Initiative

The LSHTM says that research undertaken by the VCP is published through the peer review process and is conducted completely independently from its funders who do not have a role in the design and analysis of VCP studies or the authorship of VCP research papers. In the interest of transparency the VCP has told us that it’s updating its website to include funding sources.

We are happy that because of this independence from the funders and because Dr Paterson was obviously a vaccine advocate that the item was fair. There is always a judgement to be made on the source of funding and the information we give the audience – this group  has a wide range of funding which the LSHTM tells us plays no role in their research outcomes. The range of scientific opinion in favour of the effectiveness of vaccines is overwhelming and the item was not about whether vaccines are effective – in fact it made a deliberate point of stating that that argument has been settled. This position is further backed by Dame Sally Davies and the WHO among many others. This was an item about how to counter low vaccine take up. I hope his answers your concern.

Kind Regards,

Adam Cumiskey


———- Forwarded message ———
From: Elizabeth Hart <[email protected]>
Date: Mon, Jan 14, 2019 at 3:19 PM
Subject: Failure to disclosure conflicts of interest – BBC Newsnight: Why the anti-vaccination movement is wrong
To: David Jordan-EdPol <[email protected]>

Mr Jordan, further to our correspondence below.

I have not as yet received a response from Newsnight in regards to the undisclosed conflicts of interest matter I have raised.

Now that we are well into the New Year, I would appreciate it if you would follow up on this matter for me.

Kind regards

Elizabeth Hart

———- Forwarded message ———
From: Elizabeth Hart <[email protected]>
Date: Thu, Dec 20, 2018 at 9:50 PM
Subject: Re: FW: Failure to disclosure conflicts of interest – BBC Newsnight: Why the anti-vaccination movement is wrong
To: David Jordan-EdPol <[email protected]>

Thank you for your acknowledgement of my email Mr Jordan.

The Newsnight program was grossly biased in its discussion of what it crudely calls an ‘anti-vaccination movement’.

This matter is much more complicated than that… It’s about time the BBC lifted its game above presenting crass propaganda, and provided some critical analysis of burgeoning vaccination schedules.

I request that Newsnight address the specific issues raised in my email, i.e. Newsnight’s failure to disclose the conflicts of interest of Dr Paterson, and the vaccine industry’s influence on international vaccination policy, e.g. GSK and Merck.

It’s important to have transparency, including for discussion relevant to lucrative vaccine products.


Elizabeth Hart

On Thu, Dec 20, 2018 at 5:30 AM David Jordan-EdPol <[email protected]> wrote:

Dear Elizabeth Hart,

Thank you or getting in touch. I have asked Newsnight to reply directly to your complaint.

Best wishes,

David Jordan

David Jordan

Director, Editorial Policy and Standards


 From: Elizabeth Hart [mailto:[email protected]]
Sent: 17 December 2018 12:31
To: Editorial Policy Adviser
Subject: Failure to disclosure conflicts of interest – BBC Newsnight: Why the anti-vaccination movement is wrong

For the attention of:

Mr David Jordan

BBC Director Editorial Policy and Standards; and

Mr Ric Bailey

BBC Chief Adviser Politics

Mr Jordan and Mr Bailey, conflicts of interest were not properly disclosed by participants in the Newsnight program Why the anti-vaccination movement is wrong. (Clip dated 20 September 2018: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p06lmdyq )

I suggest the lack of disclosure of conflicts of interest contravenes the BBC’s Editorial Values, e.g. 1.2.1 Trust, 1.2.3. Impartiality, 1.2.6 Serving the Public Interest, 1.2.7 Fairness and 1.2.11 Accountability: https://www.bbc.co.uk/editorialguidelines/guidelines/bbc-editorial-values/editorial-values

In the first instance, consider the participation of Dr Pauline Paterson, whose role is to address ‘vaccine hesitancy’.

Dr Paterson is a co-director of The Vaccine Confidence Project at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, an organisation which receives funding from the vaccine industry. This conflict of interest should have been clearly disclosed when Dr Paterson was introduced by Emily Maitlis.

While The Vaccine Confidence Project is not clearly transparent about its funding sources on its website, examination of papers authored by Dr Paterson indicate The Vaccine Confidence Project has received funding from vaccine manufacturers including GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and Merck[1], both of which companies are manufacturers of measles, mumps and rubella vaccines, and other vaccine products.

It appears GSK has also had high level influence on The Vaccine Confidence Project via the participation of Professor Sir Roy Anderson. In the State of Vaccine Confidence report 2015, Professor Sir Roy Anderson is listed as being on The Vaccine Confidence Project International Advisory Board. (See page attached.) As well as being Professor of Infectious Disease Epidemiology at Imperial College London, Professor Sir Roy Anderson’s current bio notes he is also a non-executive director of GSK.[2] (Professor Sir Roy Anderson joined the GSK Board in 2007, and was reported to be seeking re-election in 2017[3] but doesn’t appear to be currently listed as a director according to the GSK Board of Directors.[4])

Professor Heidi Larson is the Director of The Vaccine Confidence Project and, along with Dr Paterson, “established a global, internet-based information surveillance system on public concerns about vaccines and vaccination programmes”.[5]

The BBC should investigate this ‘Big Brother’ organisation funded and influenced by the vaccine industry, whose best interests does it serve?

Professor Larson is an anthropologist and Dr Paterson has a PhD in epidemiology. I have seen no evidence that either of these people have expertise in the safety, including interactions and long-term cumulative effects, of the variety of vaccine products on international vaccination schedules. I suggest these people could be more accurately described as being involved in vaccine marketing, e.g. working to ensure compliance to ever-increasing lucrative vaccination schedules, and are not qualified to respond to citizens’ concerns about vaccine product safety.

Mr Jordan and Mr Bailey, Dr Pauline Paterson’s association with vaccine manufacturers such as GSK and Merck via The Vaccine Confidence Project should have been clearly disclosed during the Newsnight program, and failure to do so contravenes the BBC’s Editorial Values.

What steps will be taken to redress this matter?

I look forward to your response.

Elizabeth Hart


  1. See for example the disclosures in Pauline Paterson et al. Reasons for non-vaccination: Parental vaccine hesitancy and the childhood influenza vaccination school pilot programme in England. Vaccine. Volume 36, Issue 36, 28 August 2018, Pages 5397-5401.
  2. Bio for Professor Sir Roy Anderson, Imperial College London, as downloaded 17 December 2018: https://www.imperial.ac.uk/people/roy.anderson
  3. GSK announces Board changes. 19 December 2016: https://us.gsk.com/en-us/media/press-releases/2016/gsk-announces-board-changes/
  4. GSK Board of Directors, as downloaded 17 December 2018: https://www.gsk.com/en-gb/about-us/board-of-directors/
  5. https://www.vaccineconfidence.org/about/#teamas downloaded 17 December 2018



8 thoughts on “BBC’s response to my complaint about lack of disclosure of conflicts of interest on Newsnight ‘anti-vax’ program

  1. A snippet from the BBC video:-

    You get these messages rippling through society –
    Completely unmediated by –
    The Television Producer
    The News Paper Journalist

    ***** I don’t think so sunny boy –

    Independent Media is backed up by BILLIONS OF DOLLARS –
    All that money invested in bringing the TRUTH to the peoples of planet Earth.
    It is obvious to me that SKANKES & IMPOSTERS are not behind Independent Media.
    Vive la difference !!

  2. And most certainly James Corbett deserves some supreme prize dipped in GOLD no less – for his excellent work.

  3. Brian Deer investigative journalist – graduated in philosophy from the University of Warwick.
    He then became editor & press officer for the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament & was a member of the Leveller magazine collective.
    Subsequently he joined the times, first as a business news sub editor & then as a staff news reporter & feature writer in 1980, under then, Sunday Times editor Andrew Neil, Deer was UK’s first social affairs correspondent & between 1990 – 1992 reported from the United States.

    This man has obviously worked very hard & achieved much in his role a GATEKEEPER & a big bravo to him.

    BUT nowhere is he MEDICALLY QUALIFIED – he relied on his information from the same sources we do namely BigPharma & their VESTED INTERESTS.

    BRIAN DEER was the wrong person to use as a speaker on behalf of – vaccinate or not vaccinate.
    We do not need media opinion – we need medical information.

  4. Helen Donovan – Royal Collage of Nursing is NOT QUALIFIED TO SPEAK either – it can only be prefixed by \”in my opinion\” her area of expertise in virology is miniscule.

    Dr. Pauline Patterson BSc MSc PhD MBA – Vaccine Confidence Project – this sounds good –
    Personally I would like to know exactly what she studied first – to me (for the upstart that I am) letters & titles can be deceptive – she could be just another honorary pencil pusher for all I know – & I\’m not sure if she actually understands the vaccines & their contents & the damage they are causing – but also I would not be interested in her opinion as to the shots my child should or not have.

  5. Dr. Pauline Patterson Epidemiologist …
    What is Epidemiology ??
    Being a whodunit detective –
    There is a measles breakout in the suburb of North Melbourne –
    “How did this come about?” they ask.
    The ask an Epidemiologist ….. who ….. looks at the data –

    a) There have been many children vaccinated with MMR vaccine in Nth Melb recently.
    b) At the same time there have also been many children whose parents refused to have their children vaccination.

    The kids who ar vaccinated& contagious
    The kids who were not vaccinated & caught it from the vaccinated & as a result contagious kids.

    It is the Epidemiologist – based on logic who gets to make an educated guess – depending on who is paying their salary of course.

  6. The BBC should be closed down; it seems that it is chockers full of deviates.
    After all they supported the perverted psychopath Jimmy Saville up to the end when nothing positive could be said about this misfit. Nothing admitted and back to normal without even a public enquiry; that’s modern people power for you.
    These organisations harbour sick people under the guise of intellectualism and left wing socialism that is nothing more than pure unadulterated Communism!
    What we must understand is that Communism is nothing less than Lord of the Manor philosophy that kept the royals in luxury for centuries from your sweat and tears.
    All happening now in the 21st century so business as usual! Enjoy your sweat and tears!

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