The “Media Witchhunt” of the Australian Vaccination Network

Meryl Dorey, President of the Australian Vaccination Network, recently published a media release in which she decries the media’s “witchhunt” of the AVN.

Recent investigations of the AVN by multiple branches of the New South Wales government, the reports and results of those investigations, various media interviews with Meryl Dorey, quotes from Dorey, and other factual information concerning the AVN which have been reported by the media in recent weeks really have not been looking very good for the AVN. However, this does not a “witchhunt” make. Meryl Dorey makes her own bed, and the media simply factually reports on it.

“The Australian Vaccination Network has been vilified in the media in recent weeks. While it is the media’s job to expose wrongdoing when it has been found, it is not their job to act as judge, jury and executioner.”

Although many facts reported in the media in recent weeks concerning the AVN really don’t look positive for the AVN, I see no evidence of any non-​​factual or unreasonably reporting in the media concerning the AVN. Not every issue has two equal, balanced positive and negative sides to report.

I have not seen any evidence of any kind that any media outlet or report has actually vilified or defamed Meryl Dorey or the AVN in any way. Would Dorey care to provide any evidence to substantiate her claims? Or is she once again saying things without any evidence that they’re actually truthful and accurate?

“Newspapers and radio stations have been reporting ridiculous lies stating that the AVN believes in reptilian aliens and mind-​​control chips. They got this misinformation from Mr Ken McLeod, an active member of a group that has set out to either shut our small, volunteer-​​run organisation down or shut us up in any way they can. That is their agenda. What is the media’s excuse?”

Where Dorey states that McLeod “is an active member of a group that has set out to either shut our small, volunteer-​​run organisation down or shut us up in any way they can.”, I can only assume that Dorey is referring to the Stop the Australian Vaccination Network Facebook group.

Stop the Australian Vaccination Network is a public Facebook group, which anyone who is concerned about the AVN, who wants to discuss the AVN, wants to learn more about the AVN, or has been banned or censored from the AVN Facebook page because they don’t buy into the AVN’s ideology that all vaccinations are harmful and part of some kind of an insidious pro-​​vaccination conspiracy, can freely join. The members of the Stop the Australian Vaccination Network Facebook group are simply concerned citizens who have joined the Facebook group, and there are approximately 2,300 such people at present.

There is also a small website corresponding to the content of the Stop the Australian Vaccination Network Facebook group.

Stop the Australian Vaccination Network is not an organization, a corporation, an association or institution of any kind. It’s a Facebook group, just like, say, the “Justin Bieber Fans” or “Fight The New World Order” Facebook groups. Of course, in Meryl’s paranoid conspiracy worldview, anyone who questions her must be some sort of big evil shadowy corporation run by the sinister pharmaceutical companies, attacking her from the boardroom, and the notion that it could just be a diverse group of Facebook users, all concerned about Dorey’s activities, is impossible.

On July 21, 2009, the UK-​​based conspiracy author David Icke, infamous for his belief that world leaders such as Queen Elizabeth II are actually shapeshifting reptilian aliens, published a blog post where he explained in lucid detail how he believes that the “Illuminati” are responsible for engineering and releasing pandemic infectious agents as an excuse to force compulsory vaccination on everybody.

Why? In order to implement the “Illuminati plan for the world” which “includes a mass cull of the population and the microchipping of every man, woman and child.”, based on microchips and lethal agents delivered under the pretence of vaccination.

On July 26, 2009, the Pakistan Daily re-​​posted Icke’s post.

The same day, Meryl Dorey re-​​posted an extract from, and a link to, this same article on her very own blog.

Does Meryl Dorey, or does she not, endorse the beliefs of David Icke in this regard? Dorey posted part of this article, and linked to it, but did not post any further commentary or response to it. Therefore, it seems reasonable to assume, in the absence of any clarification, that Dorey does endorse these views, and claims, as presented by Icke.

Dorey describes the AVN as “our small, volunteer-​​run organisation”. The footer at the bottom of the webpage self-​​describes the AVN as “a non-​​profit, volunteer-​​run charitable association”.

However, in 2007, Meryl Dorey paid herself a fee (an “editor’s charge”) of $15,840 from the AVN’s budget. The total payroll expenses on the AVN’s profit and loss statement for 2007 (including gross wages, leave charges, superannuation and other payroll expenses) for the AVN’s paid employees were $53,704.90.

In 2008, Dorey’s editor’s wage increased to $17,490, and the total payroll expenses were $51,030.60. The total income of the AVN in 2007 was $344,820.54, and in 2008 it was $244,718.81.

(Note that the AVN seems to operate with a fiscal year which directly corresponds to a calendar year, rather than a fiscal year which is offset from the calendar year as is usually the case.)

The AVN’s financial statements, from which these figures are sourced, are available here.

These statements were lodged with the Department of Fair Trading, as required by law for any incorporated association, and made available to the public — however, mysteriously, the AVN has not submitted any financial statements for 2009.

There is nothing “volunteer-​​run” about an organisation with a $50,000 payroll — especially not for only a couple of people. There is nothing particularly small amount an organisation with an income of $240,000 – 340,000, either.

Dorey’s claims that the AVN is a “volunteer-​​run” organisation are demonstrably utterly mendacious.

“And while this beat-​​up has been taking place, 136 of 139 pharmaceutical and vaccine manufacturing facilities in Australia have failed their TGA audits — yet this hasn’t merited so much as a mention in the press. It seems that drug companies have a privileged position in our society while vaccine safety watchdogs are shut down quicker than you can say ‘Pan Pharmaceuticals!’”

It’s worth pointing out here that Pan Pharmaceuticals was Australia’s biggest manufacturer of “complementary” and “alternative” pharmaceuticals, and some of their “drugs” recalled by the TGA in 2003 included Brewer’s Yeast, “Aushark”, Echinacea, Cod Liver Oil and “Fat Burner”.

None of the pharmaceutical development or manufacturing facilities audited by the TGA, including many within that set that make “alternative” medicines, “failed” their audits — they certainly weren’t referred to the Attorney-General’s department for possible criminal charges in response to their government audits. The TGA simply found that they had some deficiencies and that “all identified deficiencies are corrected following the audit, with some requiring follow-​​up audits to verify and confirm that implementation has been effective.”

“The AVN was formed in 1994 due to a lack of information in the community on the downsides of vaccination. We were started by a group of parents whose children had reacted to this medical procedure and the health practitioners who had helped us.”

So, does Meryl Dorey admit that the AVN’s purpose is to provide “information on the downsides of vaccination” — that is, anti-​​vaccination information — and that is the nature of the “information” that they provide?

If so, why does Dorey refuse to comply with the HCCC’s request that the AVN post a notice on their website to state that the material they provide is entirely anti-​​vaccination material, and should not be considered healthcare or medical advice?

“Daily, we provide support and information to parents in Australia and overseas who are seeking medically-​​based, fully-​​referenced data on vaccines. Daily, we help parents report their children’s serious and sometimes fatal reactions to the Australian government because their doctors have refused to do so.”

As was revealed when Tom Sidwell read and investigated Dorey’s responses to the Health Care Complaints Commission, Dorey’s idea of “medically-​​based, fully-​​referenced data on vaccines” seems to consist mostly of dubious information and references simply copied-​​and-​​pasted from anti-​​science conspiracy theory websites such as whale​.to and vaccinetruth​.org.

As Sidwell concluded, “The nature of the errors of attribution included in Ms Dorey’s reply demonstrate that, at best, she did not read the articles she cites nor did she commit to any kind of follow up. At worst, she uncritically copied her references from known conspiracy sites, assuming that there would be no detection of such lazy and completely unprofessional referencing on her part.”

“Vaccines are not compulsory. It was previously not illegal to criticise vaccines.”

It is not illegal to criticise vaccines. It is, however, extremely unethical to distribute inaccurate, misleading, scientifically ignorant, biased and pseudoscientific information on healthcare and medicine. It’s often not illegal, but in many cases, should be.

The AVN appears to have broken the rules which govern the accountability and financial management of not-​​for-​​profit organisations, charities and their fundraising, and as such the authorities are now investigating those irregularities.

This is why, on the 29th of July, the NSW Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing (OLGR) issued the Australian Vaccination Network Inc. with a Notice to Show Cause as to why its charitable fundraising authority should not be revoked.

It has been alleged that the AVN may have indeed broken the law in this regard, and the OLGR has referred their investigation to other appropriate agencies for further investigation of this.

“The AVN are vaccine whistleblowers and, like all organisations that are perceived to threaten an entrenched status quo, we are now being victimised by a group that openly states their object is to stop us in any way they can. Their tactics include death threats, threats of violence, calling our supporters to threaten them, filing complaints with every government body they can think of and generally inciting fear, hatred and violence towards us in the community — all with the support and cooperation of the government and the media.”

“That this organisation has used these tactics is shameful and should be taken seriously by the authorities.”

I have yet to see any credible evidence that any persons have subjected Meryl Dorey, or any other persons associated with the AVN, to any “death threats” or “threats of violence”, or any such threats against any supporters of the AVN, or any incitement of “fear, hatred and violence towards us” in the community.

These are serious allegations, and if any real, credible evidence exists to support these allegations, I would suggest that Dorey should approach the law enforcement agencies with such evidence, so that it might be investigated.

Or is Dorey simply making utterly mendacious claims, in the absence of any real evidence to show that they’re true? It wouldn’t be the first time.

Indeed, Meryl Dorey has directed similar, quite serious, allegations specifically towards Ken McLeod in her submissions to the HCCC, as documented here. In the absence of any evidence that such allegations are true — indeed, evidence exists that they are quite mendacious — such allegations appear rather defamatory and damaging towards McLeod.

The recent investigations of the AVN by the Health Care Complaints Commission and the NSW Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing were initiated following complaints from members of the public, citing concerns about the behaviour of the AVN in the context of healthcare information provision and charity fundraising and accounting, respectively.

In each case, these government agencies have agreed that it was fully appropriate for these agencies to conduct investigations of the AVN’s activities. These agencies fully encourage and support appropriate complaints from members of the public — this is how these regulatory agencies are, for the most part, run.

“That the media and government bodies such as the HCCC have cooperated with them — even sending people who request more information about the current ‘investigations’ to their website — is criminal.”

These government regulatory agencies, such as the HCCC and the OLGR, have done their job in conducting appropriate investigations into the AVN. The media has done their job in reporting on these investigations for the Australian public.

For Dorey to suggest that either the media or the New South Wales government have, in doing so, acted in a “criminal” way is utterly farcical.

The footer at the bottom of the webpage posted by Dorey claims that the AVN’s “lobbying in Federal Parliament has ensured that compulsory vaccination for children has not come to pass and they are the major reporters of vaccine adverse reactions to ADRAC (The Adverse Drug Reactions Advisory Committee).”

The AVN has collected, and continues to collect reports of “adverse reactions” following vaccination of children, which may or may not be serious in any way, and may or may not be causally associated with vaccines — they’re simply some kind of perceived reaction in the child’s body at some time following vaccine administration, with absolutely no information on aetiology, or any information on their real medical seriousness.

Dorey and the AVN have claimed to have documented more than 800 cases of severe reactions to vaccinations in children, as of March 2006.

However, the Australian Government’s Department of Health and Aging, in Communicable Diseases Intelligence 27, No. 3 (2003), reported that they had received only 11 notifications of Adverse Events Following Immunisation (AEFIs) from the Australian Vaccination Network over the 33-​​month period between January 1, 2000 and September 30, 2002.

Over the same interval of time, however, 143 AEFIs were notified to the government by pharmaceutical companies.

How is it that the evil conspirators of Big Pharmaceutical could possibly be reporting AEFIs to the Australian Government at a rate over 10 times that of the Australian Vaccination Network?

And Dorey has the gall to claim that “they are the major reporters of vaccine adverse reactions to ADRAC”, when this claim is demonstrably false?

If the AVN has truly documented hundreds of cases of severe illness in children following immunisation, and real evidence exists to support this, then why is the AVN sitting on this information without reporting it to the government?