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MHRA and BBC fail to meet their own deadline for responding to complaints about "Unvaccinated"

Updated: Nov 23, 2022

23 November 2022 UPDATE:

Jeremy Hayes The BBC Complaints Director has finally provided their response (8 pages pdf file). Unsurprisingly it's a complete whitewash. He fails to properly address the complaint that the "8% unvaccinated" was a massive underestimate and argue (without any explanation for the discrepancy) that the highly representative survey they used (which unfortunately for them showed 26% unvacinated) "was not intended to estimate the take-up of the vaccine across the population of the UK."

Regarding the fact that the programme failed to mention that Prof Finn was the leader of the Pfizer Centre of Excellence for Epidemiology of Vaccine-preventable Diseases at Bristol University, Hayes says he does "not think that his position at the University of Bristol in a research centre on epidemiology sponsored by a company which produces a Covid vaccine itself was information which could have materially altered the perception of his observations".

Regarding the fact that the programme failed to mention that Prof Khalil was the Principal Investigator of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine trial in healthy pregnant women, Hayes says: "The fact that the trial was sponsored by the manufacturer is not a reason in my judgment to question Professor Khalil’s expertise in maternal vaccinations or require disclosure in the context of her contribution".

All the other defences he uses against the misinformation presented in the programme are based on simply cherry-picking flawed studies that support what was said while ignoring the overwhelming evidence of the contrary. But what was particularly amusing was the defence of the ludicrous claim by Dr Patel that 20 out of 21 ICU patients at St George’s hospital in Dec 2021 were unvaccinated. He says: "I have approached the programme makers for information about the data which were quoted by Dr Patel. I have been advised that the figures were compiled by Dr Patel himself for the purposes of research".

5 November 2022 UPDATE

Both the MHRA and BBC have now 'replied' to the follow-up complaints described in the orginal posting here below.

This is the MHRA response (pdf) to Dr Black. As Dr Black says:

Unsurprisingly the MHRA have doubled down on their initial decision and refused to engage with any of the details of the complaint because they continue to assert that the programme was not promotion. They originally said it was not promotion because it did not contain any product claims. So I sent them a list of product claims made in the programme and this was their latest response:

“We consider the examples listed in your follow-up letter about “vaccine” are factual statements, not product claims.” This is of course a risable response and begs the retort “When is a product claim not a product claim ? Answer: When it’s made by the BBC, then it becomes a ‘factual statement’ !"

Their other reason for continuing to deny that the programme promoted the use of the vaccines was “ the documentary cannot have led members of the public to request a prescription-only medicine because the decision of which product(s) to deploy is one made by public health officials.” This so ridiculous a response that it’s difficult to know where to start.

They do appear to be so desperate to get this out of their in-tray that they are now volunteering to send it to the ASA on our behalf. In my opinion, I think it would be a mistake to accept this offer. I doubt the ASA are geared up to deal with a complaint with such potentially serious PH implications. We have insisted that this is a job for the MHRA and I think we should stick to our guns. Their decision not to investigate our complaint is now on the record and hopefully they will be held to account for it one day.

The BBC, having promised on 26 August 2022 "to respond within 35 days", sent the following on 21 October 2022:

From: BBC ECU <> Sent: 21 October 2022 14:09 To: Norman Fenton

Dear Professor Fenton

I am writing to apologise for the delay in responding to your complaint about "Unvaccinated". There has been a delay in access to relevant data to allow me to complete my investigation, and I am afraid it will take longer than expected.

Yours sincerely

Jeremy Hayes

Complaints Director BBC Executive Complaints Unit BBC Wogan House, Level 1, 99 Great Portland Street, London W1A 1AA

Clearly neither the MHRA or the BBC are not fit for purpose any more.

5 October 2022

I have written extensively about the serious problems with the BBC2 documentary "Unvaccinated" and the many complaints made about it. In this article I reproduced (with their permission) the complaint sent by a group of scientists and clinicians to MHRA about how the programme likely breached regulations governing advertising of prescription medicines. The article also reproduced the ludicrous response from MHRA dismissing the complaint.