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Campaigner O'Leary ‘shocked' at threat of legal action from California film firm

July 29th, 2016 9:00 AM

By Siobhan Cronin

Cork South West's five women candidates are, from left: Gillian Powell, Fiona O'Leary, Theresa Heaney, Margaret Murphy O'Mahony and Rachel McCarthy. (Photo: George Maguire)

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DUNMANWAY-based autism rights campaigner has said she is ‘in shock’ at having been threatened with legal action by a film studio in California.

Fiona O’Leary, a former Cork South West election candidate, is a vocal advocate for autistic children and adults, and has spoken out against the discredited Dr Andrew Wakefield who has linked vaccines with autism. Andrew Wakefield was stripped of his medical licence in 2010 for linking the MMR vaccine to autism. 

Fiona has also criticised a film, featuring Wakefield, entitled Vaxxed, which was released in April, and has received much critcism from the global medical community for spreading fear about vaccines. ‘This film is extremely dangerous as it is spreading fear and misinformation about vaccines,’ said Fiona. 

 ‘I received an email with a letter attached last Thursday at 2am,’ Fiona told The Southern Star. ‘It was from the film studio Cinema Libre, who are based in California. The chief executive Philippe Diaz signed the letter on behalf of Dr Andrew Wakefield and his ‘Vaxxed’ team.’ 

The letter claims that Fiona has defamed Dr Wakefield and that she is ‘attempting to prevent the film from being exhibited’. It requests she ‘cease and desist’ from making any statement regarding Dr Wakefield and two named associates of his. ‘In the event that you do not comply with this demand, we intend to file an action against you,’ the letter says. ‘We will ask for punitive damages and financial compensation for all losses to our business directly resulting from your actions,’ it adds.

In response, Fiona has said she will not be ‘threatened or bullied’ by Andrew Wakefield. 

‘I have not defamed Wakefield and his team. I am merely echoing recent statements made by the Vaxxed team to highlight their seriousness. All his research was proven to be false,’ she added.

‘Vaccines do not cause autism and this has been scientifically proven many times. In fact, vaccines save lives. Thousands of children die every year because of not receiving life-saving vaccines. We have had recent outbreaks of measles here in Ireland and we still have a poor take-up of the MMR Vaccine. This is because of Wakefield’s continous spread of misinformation about vaccines causing autism,’ she said. 

The campaigner, who heads up a lobby group called Autistic Rights Together, says she will continue to speak out on the issue.

 

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