I have just read through Ofcom's ruling of the disgraceful Jeni Barnett LBC radio phone in show on MMR from January this year. The ruling is here (you need to scroll down to about 80% of the way down to read it).
I blogged about this show earlier this year with respect to Ben Goldacre's coverage of it and also gave my views. Basically a totally ill informed woman allowed her prejudices about a (non-existant) link between the MMR triple vaccine and autism to overtake her professional judgement. She was hectoring and rude to the callers who disagreed with her. I am convinced that this show and other ignorant media coverage like it are responsible for the drop in immunisation coverage for measles below the herd immunity required level and hence outbreaks on a scale not seen for years. Utterly, utterly irresponsible.
Yet Ofcom feel that LBC and Ms Barnett are not in breach of their rules.
The rules need to be changed. The problem that I can see with the ruling is that it all seems to pivot around the need for "balance". But this is not a political debate. It is about whether dangerous scientific illiteracy should be given equal weighting with properly researched views backed up with scientific evidence as this show did. Balance doesn't come into it.
Barnett and her ilk will always claim that "more research is needed" but the MMR/autism hypothesis has been tested to destruction. There is no link. The original "study" that much of this hysteria is based on was flawed in a number of fundamental ways.
People like Barnett (and Melanie Phillips, Peter Hitchens etc.) need to shut up about this now and accept the evidence but I fear that the fact that Ofcom has effectively exonerated Barnett will only give succour to their anti-scientific nonsense.