Dodgy experts in the coroner's inquest into Jasmine Renata's death?

By Grant Jacobs 09/08/2012

In the news lately is a coroner’s inquest into the death of Rhonda Renata’s daughter, Jasmine. Rhona Renata pins her daughter’s death on the HPV vaccine Gardasil despite suggestions to (also) investigate other causes such as heart disease.

While considering if I should write something on this well-known blogger ‘Orac’* has spoken out. In particular, he questions if two of the expert witnesses are fair or reasonable.

He notes that one (Dr. Lee) was sacked from his hospital:

“One wonders if the inquest board was aware that Dr. Lee was unceremoniously given the boot as director of the diagnostic laboratory at Milford Hospital in December 2010.”

and presents aspects of the past track record of another (Dr. Shaw).**

New Zealander Hilary Butler, founder of IAS***, also gets a mention.

Read Orac’s article out for yourself. One commenter, herr doktor bimler (4:06am), writes:

“The coroner is not completely uninformed. Right at the start of the inquest, he invited testimony from a high-ranking public-health adviser (about the checks that had been performed on this particular batch of Gardasil, and about the information available for informed choice) from a cardiologist; from the nurse.

I suspect that the coroner knows perfectly well about Dr Lee’s current situation of self-employment, but one aspect of his job is to let grieving families say whatever makes them feel better… and if this involves letting their experts’ claims about professional standing go unchallenged, so be it.”

Perhaps the issue, then, is not that the coroner be aware of these elements but that the general public be aware of them?

The New Zealand Science Media Centre offers commentary from vaccine experts on it’s website and links to the articles in the media covering this story.

In any event these things must come back to what conclusions can be soundly drawn from present-day science – something that I imagine challenges many coroner’s in cases like these. There’s a saying virologist Vincent Racaniello put as the title of an articletrust science, not scientists. What does science say, not the testimony of individuals? I’ve previously suggested the review literature as a proxy of sorts for this (bearing in mind that this isn’t a flawless approach). Science means more than the result of one study or investigation but what can be drawn from all of them, taken together.


A number of anti-vaccine groups have been pushing this case, notably SaneVax. So far I haven’t been able to locate a publicly-available ‘original’ copy of the testimonials that SaneVax has quoted. (It would be good to read an original in it’s full context and to see to what extent his material was questioned. I’m curious about some of the claims made but I can’t do much without the original transcripts, especially as anti-vaccine sources have been known to quote selectively.)

* Not his real name. Fans of Dr. Who Blake’s 7 may find the pseudonym familiar. So that readers might know, he’s an oncologist (a media specialising in cancer) and has a long track record investigating anti-vaccine claims among others.

** In another article criticising a review Dr. Shaw wrote proposing that a tentative link (in his mind) between aluminium (in vaccines) and autism be investigated, Orac relates how Dr. Shaw spoke at an anti-vaccine meeting in Jamaica.

*** I’ve had occasion to write about some of the inaccurate claims coming from this group – some are listed below.

Some related articles at Code for life:

IAS talks about vaccination

Immunisation, then and now

Fact or fallacy, a survey of immunisation statements in the print media

Thoughts on, and for, those trying to choose to vaccinate or not

Rubella, not a benign disease if experienced during early pregnancy

0 Responses to “Dodgy experts in the coroner's inquest into Jasmine Renata's death?”

  • Oh, well. I read somewhere over there that it was re the Dr., but you seem to be right. (I never did follow the older TV series of the Dr. well and I don’t think I’ve ever watched Blake’s 7, or at least I can’t remember it.)

  • Thanks for the citation! (“Bimler, 2012”).
    I have a suspicion that Orac — the table-top super-computer in Blake’s 7 — is a reincarnation of Orak, the super-computer running the Planet of the Phants in an early Dan Dare comic. The Orac of RI refuses to confirm or deny this theory.

  • I noticed that most of the articles covering the inquest rely mainly on the testimony and opinion of Rhona and her experts, with little peer reviewed science being mentioned to contrast.

    Reading each article, my immediate thoughts ran: symptoms of “pains in various parts of her body, suffered a racing heart beat, weak arms, tingling in her hands and legs, and became tired and irritable. Her hair started falling out and she was sleeping as much as possible” deserved full investigation whether or not they were attributed to a vaccine.

    I find it surprising then that there seems to be no mention of any investigation of these symptoms which apparently lasted for many months. Did Jasmine have any investigations of her symptoms at all? The comment “just put it down to something like anxiety or adrenalin” suggests to me that she didn’t.

    Unfortunately there are many illnesses, particularly cardiac arrhythmias, which cannot be diagnosed post mortem. I suspect that if cardiac electrophysiological investigations had been done on Jasmine when she first got her symptoms then she would have received treatment and still be alive today.

    We are unlikely to ever know exactly what caused the death of Jasmine. In the end, the coroner will determine the most likely cause.

    Rhona has experienced the most devastating thing that can occur to a parent and she is seeking someone or something to blame. Unfortunately, against all of the evidence, she has latched on to Gardasil as the object to blame. I missed, by minutes, the same thing happening to me and it took me years to recover from the near death of my own child. I hope that she can recover from her own devastating loss over time.

  • Stuart,

    “I noticed that most of the articles covering the inquest rely mainly on the testimony and opinion of Rhona and her experts, with little peer reviewed science being mentioned to contrast.”

    – the articles certainly lead off with her witnesses’ testimony/opinion, leaving the independent experts views until in the piece. I guess they’re more dramatic… (I wonder how many readers will read the full articles?)

    “symptoms of “pains in various parts of her body, suffered a racing heart beat, weak arms, tingling in her hands and legs, and became tired and irritable. Her hair started falling out and she was sleeping as much as possible” deserved full investigation whether or not they were attributed to a vaccine.”

    – you’ll have seen that one question (by coroner) was why she didn’t investigate (inherited) cardiac disorders.

  • That letter to parliament has Hilary Butler’s pawprints all over it. It just disgusts me how she and her merry brigade of anti-vaxxers have exploited this poor family in their time of shocking grief and loss. As someone so rightly pointed out on Orac’s site, Jasmine’s brothers are missing the opportunity to be screened for the possibility of an inherited condition as a result. Very sad.

  • Comment on the letter (may be interpreted as nit-picking).

    Guillane-Barre is an ascending paralysis that can cause death if untreated. The paralysis starts at hands and feet and slowly (weeks) goes up the limbs and on to the trunk. If untreated, death occurs well after the limbs become completely paralysed, when the paralysis extends to the diaphragm and the person can no longer breathe.

    It does not cause death overnight in someone who is able to feed themselves the day before. Complete paralysis of arms and legs occurs well before the diaphragm is affected.

    I’m surprised that Dr Shaw would even mention G-B; it’s a complete red herring unless the symptoms he mentioned progressed to include limb paralysis.

    G-B is taught in pre-clinical years in medical school, but then I note that Dr Shaw achieved his honorific through PhD rather than medicine. (In no way do I belittle the achievement of PhD, but I would question his ability to make diagnoses).

  • I’ve added a long-winded (heh!) comment relating why I gave up on trying to write about the testimonial claims

    There you note that
    Another SaneVax post writes “I know we can’t divulge information regarding what took place at the inquest until the coroner releases it to the public,”
    The SaneVax people are evidently unaware that the inquest is open to the public, and that journalists are reporting on it — sorry, “divulging information” — *every day*.

  • I would encourage readers to read exploration of the two ‘expert’ witnesses’ services that ‘herr doktor bimler’ has written:

    It seems there is rather more to these two that would at first appear to be the case.

    herr doktor bimler – thanks for clarifying the status of the inquest. The mix of different statements being made online is confusing. It’s a pity I can seem to find a transcript of the testimonials. I may later try write on the media reporting—I don’t think their “simplifications” are helpful (to be polite). I might also look into the involvement of the anti-vaccine community.

  • Addendum: “I would encourage readers” – for entertainment value as much as whatever more serious points lurk within what is noted there. The style is more “relaxed”, of course.

  • One more:

    Here’s what I take to be the CARM report filed by Rhonda Renata:
    (Accessed via a google search; the original is from Hilary Butler’s “Beyond Conformity” website. I take it that ‘depo inj’ means an injection of Depo Provera, the contraceptive.) The bits in bold italics are Rhonda’s account of her daughter’s state at the time.

    There’s plenty more on-line, of course. One google search readers interested in this case might try is (put all of this in the search field):

    site: jasmine

    The PDF files you’ll find are the formal correspondence associated with this case from Hilary’s site (hence the site: portion of the search). Hilary’s articles are, unsurprisingly, one-sided anti-vaccine efforts (I have to admit the word “rant” often comes to mind when I read her material…)

  • The style is more “relaxed”, of course.
    More humour is to be found from Dr Lee’s patents for
    (1) an anaerobic tea steeper — the patent application includes a lengthy appendix explaining how green tea brewed using his anaerobic steeper can be administered to dogs to cure canine lymphoma.

    (2) “a new device and method for treating hemorrhoids. The device has a substantially cylindrical shape and, at least at one portion, has a diameter of between about 5 mm and about 30 mm. The device is inserted into an anal canal so that it is positioned against at least one displaced anal cushion, and is maintained there for a sufficient time to achieve reduction of the displaced anal cushion.”

  • “Harumph.” – hey, my remark was meant positively! 🙂

    Mine was a bit formal, partly from trying to rope in the frustration at the sloppy (inaccurate) statements in the media that hindered me from getting at what had really been presented as I had wanted to.

  • @ Grant: Your blog (and Alison’s too), are terrific.

    Here’s the prescribing information for Depo Provera, which has a “boxed warning” about Bone Mineral Density being affected by the drug.

    “It is unknown if use of Depo-Provera Contraceptive Injection during adolescence or early adulthood, a critical period of bone accretion,will reduce peak bone mass and increase the risk for osteoporotic fracture in later life. (5.1)”

    On other medical sites, I learn that doctors are quite reluctant to prescribe Depo Provera for adolescent girls ages 13-18 because of the unknown consequences and unknown increased risks for osteoporosis/fractures as these women age.

    Scan the Prescribing Information document to see that each and every one of the symptoms that the mother reported for Jasmine…and that she later attributed to the HPV vaccine…have been reported by Pfizer in the Prescribing Information for Depo Provera.

  • From the various links you have explored, do you know *when* blood samples were sent to Dr Lee for his testing? I’m trying to get a handle on the chronology.

  • Hi lilady,

    Nice to have you over this way. Now that your first comment has been approved, your comments won’t be held up for moderation in future. Welcome to Code for life and Sciblogs 🙂

    I’ve been thinking along similar lines myself but I don’t particularly like straying to diagnosis and generally stay away from it for the reasons Stuartg mentioned earlier. (It’s one thing to fit symptoms [read: phenotypic effects] to one disease, another to take a bunch of symptoms and try deduce what might be the cause. Those working in medical research, with or without medical degrees do have to work with the former; it’s the latter they should be cautious about.)

    If there’s an angle I would explore myself it would be Lee’s diagnostic test, as the data analysis that follows from molecular tests like that is my field. There seem too many red flags with what Lee is claiming – they raise questions of if what he is claiming is even correct at all. Of course, that means I need an accurate account of what the test actually is…

    Regardless of the possibility of a scam/sham test scenario that some have raised it seems to me that scientific evidence presented at courts or inquest should be (well) beyond the sort of questions that Lee’s results raise or they’d be neither here nor there in terms of conclusions and thus useless to an inquiry in the end. They’d just be “possibles” and “maybes” with no means to be resolved in something convincing one way or other. (Courts – or inquiries – aren’t the place resolve the science itself.) It seems to me that in addition to presenting the evidence the standard of that evidence, the “state of play” of that technique in the field, etc., has to be presented too. That Lee’s work (apparently) hasn’t be verified in others’ hands (let alone formally published) should suggest it’s not of real value to an inquest I would have thought.* This need for substantiated methods was indicated briefly in the autopsy report (or one of the other reports – I’m losing track of them a bit); I’d like see if that was laid more clearly in the inquest but we’d need a transcript to resolve that. Hopefully I’ll get around to elaborating on this point on my blog later today. (Time and interest permitting…!)

    * There is a paper discussing some of the sequence analysis aspects. I hope to look at this later (time, etc., permitting). A quick skim shows it has no Methods section and doesn’t appear to flesh out the full details of the test (assuming it is the same as that done for the samples SaneVax arranged him to do).

    (Way too long comment. I ought to be writing a new blog post!)

  • herr doktor bimler,

    Isn’t the claim that these tests were run ~6 months after Jasmine’s death? SaneVax reports Jasmine as dying 22nd September 2009. June to August of 2011 would be closing on two years later.

  • herr doktor bimler,

    You’re probably already aware of it, but it seems the FDA pinged Dr. Lee over his marketing green tea products as a putative cancer treatment:


    “We note that FDA issued a Warning Letter to you dated February 22, 2010, that identified several violations of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act in connection with your marketing of green tea products. Among other things, your web site made health claims other than those for which FDA stated, in the 2005 Response Letter, that it intended to consider exercising enforcement discretion.

    If you market green tea products using health claims other than the qualified health claims set forth above, FDA may take enforcement action, including an injunction against a manufacturer or distributor of green tea products bearing such illegal health claims, or a seizure of such products, without further notice. You should take prompt action to bring your firm into compliance with the law.”

  • Isn’t the claim that these tests were run ~6 months after Jasmine’s death?

    That doesn’t work out. Remember, the announcements that Lee’s special nested-PCR reagents could detect HPV rDNA in Gardasil samples didn’t appear until September 2011:

    And at that point, all Lee’s work had been with fresh vials of straight vaccine. In related press releases from SaneVax in September 2011, Lee is *talking* about rDNA staying in the bloodstream and being a potential threat, but he is not testing for it himself… instead, there is a reference to another case of a woman going “to an MD practicing naturopath who conducted a toxicity test that eventually found HPV DNA in the girl’s blood”. Of course the kinds of ‘toxicity tests’ conducted by naturopaths are a whole source of hilarity in themselves.

    Within that interview in my previous comment, the president of SaneVax explains that when they first contacted Lee about testing Ms Renata’s blood samples,
    “Dr. Lee’s lab was not set up to work with blood samples and no protocol had been developed to try and detect HPV DNA particles attached to aluminum in human samples.”

    So in this chronology, the tests of the blood samples must have come some time *after* the September 2011 claims about Gardasil… once Dr Lee — working without a laboratory — had refined his reagents to work in a different liquid environment, and increased their sensitivity umpteen orders of magnitude to adjust for the dilution of a few millilitres of vaccine within three or four litres of blood.

    When Erickson from SaneVax says “The tests were done in June to August of 2011”, she is evidently referring to Lee’s tests on Gardasil vaccine.

  • If there’s an angle I would explore myself it would be Lee’s diagnostic test, as the data analysis that follows from molecular tests like that is my field.

    I dropped a line at ERV’s blog to ask if anyone had any virology insights.

  • @Lilady

    I was on Depo for 2 years, which was the maximum time allowed by my MD because of the issues with bone density. I was lucky; no appreciable loss had occurred during my use, but I also took calcium and D3 supplements during my use of Depo.

    I’ve never recommended Depo to anyone I know; the side effects are, in my opinion absolutely not worth the benefits.

  • @h-d-b:

    Thanks. I doubt he’d have the time (and likely, nor inclination) but Vincent Racaniello would be another to ask about virology: He tends to stick to more formal things, but it’s his field and he covers it well.

    FWIW, I don’t think the issues here are with virology per se but more molecular biology, immunology, cell biology, etc.; it’s not so much the virus but the tests these ‘experts’ have done and vaccines (PCR experiments, what happens to the adjuvant when it’s injected into muscle tissue, etc.) – unless you’re thinking of something I’m not!

    In some ways this is all a big distraction from looking more widely at what Jasmine’s symptoms might be attributed to.

  • There’s that Al-DNA thing again (which obviously is bugging me):

    SaneVax wrote: “… no protocol had been developed to try and detect HPV DNA particles attached to aluminum in human samples.”

    Nested-PCR to “detect HPV rDNA in Gardasil samples” detects particular DNA sequences, not DNA bound to Al, which would be different test.

    In a portion of his testimony quoted by SaneVax, they say Lee said:

    “The naked DNA in the vaccine was probably stabilized through a chemical binding between the mineral aluminum and the phosphate backbone of the double-stranded DNA.”

    (My emphasis added.) Is he saying here that he has not tested for “HPV DNA particles attached to aluminum, but is, essentially, guessing? – offering aluminium-binding as a hypothetical reason the DNA was still able to be detected after the time had elapsed.

    (Of course, there is still the possibility of other artefacts, etc. to consider too; we really need to have his protocol to make sense of his claims.)

    If true, SaneVax, etc., need to stop talking about Al-DNA or at least shift to saying it’s speculation on Lee’s part. The SaneVax reportage on his testimonial gives the impression Lee is trying to have it both ways; they say that:

    “Dr. Lee did not claim the HPV-16 L1 gene DNA he discovered in the post-mortem blood and spleen samples was the cause of the sudden and unexplained death of the New Zealand teenager in her sleep.”

    If not, then what’s the point of his testimony and how does it add to the inquest? (Unless they are just using it as an opportunity to push their anti-vaccine agenda, of course.) But they then go on to say:

    “He noted that the full autopsy analysis had ruled out all known causes of death, and stated that his discovery presented a plausible mechanism of action that needed further investigation in all cases of unexplained deaths following Gardasil(R) vaccinations.”

    Huh? It’s not a cause, but is a plausible mechanism?

    I’d call trying to have it both ways (assuming the rest of the testimony doesn’t suggest otherwise) and pushing their cause rather than the case at hand (Jasmine’s death).

    Again, it’d help to have the full testimonies…

    Then there’s Lee’s dubious associations, etc., which the MSM here hasn’t reported at all. (Some of the people lilady has pointed out that he’s associated with are interesting for example.)

  • Lee will NEVER divulge his ‘protocol’ short of a court order.

    He’s grasping at straws. He’s assuming a ligand forms between the Al and the protein – but he’s got no proof.

  • As you say, Darwy – and all the while he’s sowing doubt in folks’ minds about the safety & efficacy of vaccines. Sigh. Not to mention clouding the matter of other possible causes of death.

  • Hi darwy,

    Lee has a paper where he describes some sequence analysis issues related to his PCR protocol (I’m assuming it’s the same PCR protocol bar whatever prepping changes he made to handle blood/spleen samples). From this you might be able to pick out what sequences he’s trying to PCR up, perhaps?

    As for the Al-DNA aspect, goodness knows what he’s using if it is in fact more than speculation. I haven’t seen anything from him in the literature on that (haven’t tried hard, but it’s not exactly popping up either).

    Either way, I don’t think the standard of what he’s doing is meaningful for an inquest (or court) in that it’s not been tested and verified by others; it’s hard to see how it can contribute in any useful way to resolving the cause of Jasmine’s death. The autopsy report hinted at that, referring to it as “research only” from memory – there’s distinction of what is suitable for that setting and the sort of thing Lee is presenting isn’t (IMO, of course).

    I would like to think what the inquest is after would follow from her symptoms and the autopsies.

    I haven’t written all of what I might have partly as it’s hard to unpick some of the contradictory statements and partly because I’m reluctant to say too much (despite that I’ve read quite a bit so far).

  • I’m not a biochemist, so the PCR stuff is out of my league. I deal with toxicology (specifically biotic ligands and metals) so the concept of an Al ligand isn’t far-fetched – however the possibility that it could pass the BBB is something I’m not too sure of. It’s going to come down to whether or not there’s still a charge to the Al-ligand and the size of the composite particle as to whether or not such a thing could pass the barrier at all.

    Again, not in my field of expertise, but given that Lee doesn’t disclose a damn thing makes me lean towards, “it’s not very likely”.

  • @Lilady, darwy,

    FWIW, Depot Provera has a long history of use in NZ, including in teenagers.

    I haven’t found documentation of the launch date in NZ, but think it was 1970 or shortly after. My memory gives me details of a decade of use already when I was studying Pharmacology in the early/mid ’80s. My own experience is that I still frequently see teenagers who are using it for contraception.

    This suggests that Jasmine was not unusual as a kiwi teenager using Depot Pro era in a country with nearly four decades of experience in its use.

    I don’t think that her use of it can be criticised. Whether or not it contributed to her symptoms is a completely different question.

  • @Stuartg

    I wasn’t criticizing her use of it, I was more amazed that it was given to youth her age – especially after my own experiences with it. I understand the attraction for it; no menstrual periods (and no cramps, bloating, acne, etc) – but the side effects were brutal for me and I was glad when I came off it.

  • As much to keep this link for my records as anything else, here is a old Close Up interview with Rhonda Renata and Dr. Stewart Jessamine (you’ll have to put up with a silly “sponsor message” [read: advertisement] to get to it) :

    From about 4:34 minutes into the interview you’ll hear Rhonda Renata reply to “how can you be sure it was the vaccine that caused Jasmine’s death?” with “[…] It had to be that because that’s the only thing she’s added to her body in the last year”. In her report to CARM she notes Depo Provera injections during this period, including twice after her last Gardasil vaccination. Other factors that might be considered are things coming from within, e.g. genetic disorders. You could also look a wider range of factors, too.

    (I’m not pinning anything on Depo Provera in writing this, or any other possible cause for that matter, just noting that her statement and how she focuses on one possible cause.)

  • Thanks for the link Grant – it serves to remind us all how desperately sad this is; that Hilary Butler and her mates have cynically manipulated this poor woman’s grief to the point that she believes her daughter’s death was effectively something tantamount to ‘murder’ by those who she’s had painted to her as ‘callous and uncaring’ health authorities. She cannot let go of her conviction in order to grieve properly and an inquest result that doesn’t point to Gardasil will undoubtedly increase and prolong her agony. I do notice Hilary seems to have gone quiet on this right now, but no doubt she’s cooking something overblown yarn up for Ian Wishart or one of the other conspiracy publications! Does anyone know when the coroner will release his conclusions?

  • “Does anyone know when the coroner will release his conclusions?”

    Off-hand I don’t know; Peter Griffin (who heads the Science Media Centre) might, as he’s been in touch with them.

    One frustrating thing is the lack of transcripts. (Mind you, it’d be a lot to wade through!) Related to that – IMO – reporting would have fared better in the hands of science writers or, alternatively, with the assistance of a science-savvy editor — something I have been meaning to write about.

    Hilary hasn’t written on the inquest yet despite her close involvement (by her words) with this since October 2009. (The latest piece on her site is a rant about whooping cough on July 26th.) IAS has nothing, although there are a couple links to media articles on their Facebook page. Off the radar has just cut’n’pasted one of the SaneVax articles. So, no original reporting/comments from any of them. Perhaps there’s not much for them to say compared to, say, when they first started “promoting” the notion of vaccine link to Jasmine’s death.

    (Erwin’s place (heh) has a few things up but mixed in with the “usual” remarkable, erm, “stuff” over there such as a video whose “main theme was the abuse of microwaves as a secret and covert stealth weapon, that has been around for at least 50-60 years. This type of weapon has taken many different forms over the years and it is still used in many different types of targeting, […]”, etc., etc.)

  • One of the little ironies here is that the main reason Hilary seems to be so a-scared of Gardasil — and many other vaccines — is that they contain polysorbate-80 as an emulsifier. Evidently this ingredient is a crucial part of Ms. Renata’s death. Depo Provera also contains polysorbate-80, but Hilary has no issues about it.

    I remember back in the late-70s and early-80s when Depo Provera was the target of no end of panics and health hysteria — IIRC correctly it was part of the patriarchal conspiracy — while vaccines where not even on the radar.

  • herr doktor bimler,

    I can’t have been reading her stuff close enough!* Good catch.

    Have to admit I’m tempted to offer an article that simply pulls together snippets others have offered into one place. You’ve added so much you ought to put up a guest post, perhaps at Alison’s blog since you’re a regular there (AFAICT!).

    *I’m not blaming myself; I was focusing on mentions of the Renatas rather than her views on Gardasil itself. Besides, her rants are a bit much to read one-after-the-other.

  • @darwy

    I wasn’t intending to suggest anyone was critcising the use of Depot Provera, much less yourself. I apologise if you took that as my intent. I was trying to say that it is not uncommonly used in teenagers of her age in NZ (14!). I was at the end of a long work shift and trying to find a completely neutral way of expressing myself.

    @Herr doktor bimmler

    What amuses me is the worry expressed over the use of polysorbate-80 in vaccines like Gardasil, but the same people apparently have no problems with its much greater use in ice cream and low fat ice cream.

  • I am still trying to work out whether the insoluble aluminium-compound colloid particles in Gardasil (1) bind with rDNA fragments, migrate from the injection site into the bloodstream, and hang around there indefinitely (viz Dr Lee); or (2) migrate from injection site to the brain, where they change into charged atomic aluminium, in order for the Morin stain to detect them (viz Dr Shaw). Ms Renata’s expert witnesses cannot both be right.

    Nor, in the latter scenario, is it clear how Shaw distinguishes between aluminium from Gardasil and aluminium from other exposures.

  • herr doktor bimler,

    I think a deeper issue (in sweeping terms) is that since this sort of thing is debatable, this evidence really isn’t of questionable (I would say no) value to the coroner’s inquest as it stands; it’s too “research level” IMO.

    Certainly the coroner would likely not be in a position resolve scientific matters like that unaided.* You’d think/hope that in that case material like that would be set aside as “inconclusive” (i.e. not helpful either way).

    The SaneVax reporting can be read as Dr. Lee having it both ways in a way I particularly like – see my longer comment from about two days ago. (The one starting “There’s that Al-DNA thing again”.)

    * At the least he’d need comparable expert testimony examining it, but nothing in the media thus far suggests this happened – transcripts would be good again. The coverage from media is too brief know what’s happened there unfortunately, all we can do is look at material outside of the inquest itself.

  • It’s interesting to read today that the coroner’s verdict in the case of the Invercargill woman whose family claim she was killed by Coca-Cola has been delayed due to the soft drink’s manufacturer asking to provide a pathologist’s findings and/or opinion in their defence. She was a very heavy smoker, had given birth to a large number of children by an early age and by my recollection of the details thus far was also a poor eater. But as in Jasmine’s case, this family has fixated on one aspect of her tragic story – the Coke addiction – and placed all blame at its door. It’ll be fascinating to see how this one pans out too!

  • Dr. Chris Shaw, one of the two expert witnesses referred to above has commented at the Respectful Insolence article; you’ll find the comment easiest by searching the page for the date/time: ‘August 15, 5:37 pm’. (For some reason I missed this earlier.) Orac (David in Shaw’s comment), the writer of the blog, has replied at ‘August 15, 10:55 pm’.

    The relevant portion (in my opinion) of Shaw‘s comment is:

    “Just for clarity: the CNS tissue in question was run through a battery of IHC assays. Morin was not used, rather a variation of a stain used by Walton and colleagues based on their AD studies. We never claimed that aluminum caused the CNS damage or the death, merely that it was there. We also did not claim it came from the vaccine since there are numerous sources of aluminum, vaccines being only one such. As for the HPV antibody assays: these used a commercial antibody to a piece of HPV 16 protein. What is is doing in the CNS samples is anyone’s guess at this point. Maybe it is common, maybe not. Maybe, as you suggest, it is a fluke of this particular assay or our technique. We’ll know more when we have more samples from other cases.”

    (My emphasis added. This is not completely new to me; hearing it “in his own words” is.)

    Several quick points regards the aluminium aspect of this:

    – As he says he did not tie his finding of auminium to any source: vaccine or not, never mind any particular vaccine. It’ll be worth checking to the extent that media reports made this explicit (or incorrectly linked this to the vaccine).

    – I would like to have seen a statement of the amount of aluminium he found, contrasting the amount found with the range of amounts that would be expected in “normal” brain tissue using the same assay.

    – I would like to have seen mention of if other antibody tests to other HPV surface proteins were done, i.e. to help distinguish a virus from the HPV 16 protein (i.e. proteins that are part of the virus, but are not in the vaccine as the HPV 16 protein is). Note that he accepts that his result is, paraphrasing, offering nothing towards resolving Jasmine’s death. (SaneVax reports a slightly, but importantly, different statement but that may reflect their reporting and biases – ?)

    – I would like to have seen Dr. Shaw correspond openly rather than privately by email (as he offered over there) as I feel this will only make him part of the problem rather than it’s solution. Part of the problem has been the reporting of the inquest, with it’s over-simplifications/errors. This has left people trying to work out the story from what they can. By limiting correspondence to private email, people will have to return working from what they can.

  • Also from Dr. Shaw, in a later comment: “The HPV 18 ab was negative.” (Bear in mind that you can’t prove a negative as it were.)

  • My comment immediately below one is not directed at anyone in this thread, but has been set up so that I might refer to it in future from other forums.

  • Ron Law has taken to repeating a silly lie that I censor my blog, typically when he finds something he has written is under question or has been shown to be wrong. While it is silly, it’s also getting tedious to be repeatedly faced with it. As he is banned here, these accusations (lies) occur elsewhere. To spare having to repeat myself, I’ve created this comment to point to. It’s overly long, but at least I can now just post a link in reply!

    Ron Law has been banned from my blog. Not censored, banned. Ron had plenty of warning.

    For a short take of the policy used, read the comments section of my About page.

    Most of you will want to stop here; the rest is a bit, um, tedious!

    Ron Law knows the main reasons behind his being banned have to do how he treats others (including me). His calling “censoring” is not a misunderstanding on his part or a miscommunication on my part.

    More on this in a moment but in practice I didn’t ban him, he really banned himself: I set a policy up such that those that persist whilst temporarily being suspended, or who persistently hassle me privately, would stand or fall by their own hand.

    Two words: moderation and censorship. Moderation ≠ censorship.

    Moderation is routine on blogs everywhere; without it comments sections would be truly awful and discourage any sensible discussion. See my ‘About’ page for details, but as you’d expect spam is removed, also first-time commenters have to be approved (this is another anti-spam measure).

    Censorship would be blocking comments because the author disagreed with the content. I routinely accept content I disagree with it.

    Ron Law banned himself, really. I set up a scheme, described in the comments section of my About page, where if a reader hassles me privately or tries to comment during being temporarily suspended for repeatedly crossing the line after I’ve asked them to lift their standards, etc., their actions lead to their temporary suspension being extended. These extensions are driven by things that are entirely in their hands and don’t involve judgement calls on my part.

    Ron Law was given advance warning of this policy. He extended a temporary suspension out to many months, effectively banning himself. Not only was he given advance warning, it wasn’t the first time he’d effectively banned himself either. (The full story is too long to relate here, but he was given a second chance conditional to raising his standards and not writing to me privately.)

    An element readers can’t readily see is that while Ron was also sending emails to me despite my asking him several times to not to. Without saying more, suffice to say that in my opinion—and it is only my opinion after all—his behaviour is closer to stalking and (public) harassment than trolling a subject matter.

    This “saga” has stretched over several years. I feel have given him more chances that I consider anyone needs. Since being banned Ron has taken to slighting and accusing me from others’ blogs. I guess he’s a poor loser – ? Whatever. Ron has also tried to return to hassle me on my blog, through faking a new account – something beyond what “ordinary” correspondents would do (I recognised it was him immediately, after second comment), but accepted them for a while for a lark; I’ve since silently stopped taking these as he quickly returned to his personal attacks and odious behaviour). I have previously suggested that he seems somewhat obsessed with harassing me and that he would be better to move on.

    Whatever the case is his continuing mud-slinging, accusation of censoring, etc., will naturally enough mean that he will stay banned.

    Below is a small sample from the many times I’ve related (aspects of) this to Ron… Readers are welcome to judge for themselves but frankly I wouldn’t even waste your time on it – I’m only putting these here “for record”.

    My About page.

    This comment introduced the policy I set up to handle persistent trolls (Ron is the only person who has needed this attention):


    Examples of older correspondence on this matter, as you can see he had plenty of opportunity to raise his standards on his own initiative over a long period of time (note the dates, in reverse order of time; newest first):


    Correspondence since introducing the temporary suspension + reader-directed extension of suspension policy:

  • For those still following this story, there are comments by several pathologists following an article by ‘Orac’ looking at a recent publication by Lucija Tomljenovic and Christopher Shaw (the latter being one of the ‘experts’ called by the parents for the inquest):

    (I’m wondering if some of the material presented at the inquest is drawn from what is now presented in this paper. The paper is in a journal from a publishing company reported elsewhere to be vanity publishing with reports of a dodgy fee-collecting system.)

  • Interesting. So, while Dr Lee may have found evidence of a specific strain of HPLV DNA, there is no evidence that this might have come from a vaccine.

  • As you’re saying: from his summary of the paper, the method would be not able to conclude any DNA found was from a vaccine (never mind imply that such DNA could cause harm).

  • Sorry to resurrect and old thread but I’m just wondering if anyone knows whether the coroner’s report on this has come out yet? Is it possible the family might have kept it quiet if his conclusion didn’t fit with their beliefs?

  • I’m quite happy for people to write to old threads. In fact someone else did earlier this week on an January 2010 post about ‘scientific’ baking 🙂 (If you have seen it before, check it out – science-theme biscuits.)

    Anyway back on-topic… There is no coroner’s report for Jamine Renata listed under ‘Findings of the public interest’ (unlike for, say, the Kahui twins), so I may have to write and ask.

  • My daughter got Guillain Barre Syndrome directly after a vaccine at high school (Manurewa) in was 6 months before she could walk again. No one can prove vaccines do this but I suspect many with rare blood types may have adverse reactions to various vaccines. Also the Pathologist who failed to give evidence in the Kahui twins case was the same Pathologist who enabled our brother’s workplace death killer to walk free…I suspect there have been some very ‘dodgy deals’ going on behind closed doors

    • Hi Lynette,

      (Just writing from memory here, as I haven’t time to review the details.)

      From my reading of the case that my article is about (at that time), it was clear that the coroner and pathologists tried hard to do the best they could.

      The ‘dodgy’ aspects referred to in my article were the (I’m being polite here) “unhelpful” “experts” that the parents brought in.

      The parents will have meant well, but, as the coroner noted, some of their choices left the case unresolved (some recommended tests were not pursued).

      Heaps of sympathy for your loss, but I hope you’re not trying to imply that what might or might not have happened in one case is true for other cases, other pathologists (or coroners), or their professions as a whole. Nothing against you here, just concerned that others might read it that way.