US film studio threatens to sue autism-rights advocate

A US film studio has threatened to sue an Irish autism-rights advocate if she continues to speak out against its controversial anti-vaccine documentary, Vaxxed: From Cover-Up to Catastrophe,.

Fiona O'Leary

West Cork-based mother, Fiona O’Leary, who wants to block the film’s release in Ireland and Britain, said she was outraged to receive a legal letter from California-based Cinema Libre Studios over the weekend.

The letter claimed that her public comments about the 90-minute film were defamatory and that her comments about the filmmaker were libellous.

The CEO of the studios, Philippe Diaz, accused Ms O’Leary of initiating a “defamation campaign” against the film and its makers.

“Moreover, you are attempting to prevent the film from being exhibited, which is a clear effort to harm our business,” Mr Diaz said.

“Demand is made that you immediately cease and desist from interfering with the distribution of the film, as well as from making any statement to any person with regard to the film, Cinema Libre Studio and/or Autism Media Channel, its agents, representatives and/or employees, including Dr Andrew Wakefield, Del Bigtreet, and Polly Tommey.

“In the event that you do not comply with this demand, we intend to file an action against you. We will ask for punitive damages and financial compensation for all losses to our business directly resulting from your actions.”

The documentary alleges that the US government agency charged with protecting the health of US citizens destroyed data from a 2004 study that showed a link between the MMR vaccine and autism.

It is directed by discredited anti-vaccine activist, Andrew Wakefield, whose controversial 1998 study first suggested a link between autism and vaccines.

A substantial body of research has since suggested that there is no link between vaccines and autism. In 2010, Wakefield’s study was withdrawn, as was his medical licence.

Vaxxed: From Cover-Up to Catastrophe, described as the film ‘they don’t want you to see’, was due to be screened at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival, but was withdrawn.

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