Jeni Barnett and the Phone Call with Yasmin on the LBC MMR Segment

Dr Ben Goldacre of Bad Science has publicised Jeni Barnett’s segment on MMR from the Jeni Barnett Show, LBC Radio, Sunday 1 Feb 7 January 2009. This MMR segment contained many extraordinary assertions and exchanges. You may be interested in her back and forth with her final caller.

Yasmin seems to be a nurse in Primary Practice.

JB – Radio show host, Jeni Barnett.


TIMESTAMP 39:00 into Jeni Barnett LBC Segment, Sunday Feb 1 7 January 2009.

JB: And I think that the reason you fill up my telephone-there are no calls being able to come in at the minute- is because you’re phoning is because there isn’t a definitive answer. There is no absolute answer.

As a parent, whether you are male or female, you have to make a decision based on your family history. I took my daughter who kept getting ear infections when she was a kid and one of the doctors said to me, “If you do not give her an asthma spray, and do not do this, that and the other, she will die within a week”. You don’t say that to a young mum, well, I was an old mum but she was only a little person.

Since I had asthma and my mother in law died of asthma and I’ve told you this before, that doctor didn’t take into account where I was coming from. I required him to look in my child’s ear and give me some indication of what was going on so I could make an informed decision.

I, however, am not like Yasmin in Chelsea. You would – what would you have done in that situation?

Yasmin: I’m just wondering how much longer your programme is on air. Because I give hundreds of MMR vaccines


and all the work that we do in general practice is probably being undone by your programme in 15 minutes and I think it’s very irresponsible.

JB: Why. [Indistinct]

Yasmin: It doesn’t seem to be based on any facts. I’m very sorry to hear that your child had autism but if you…

JB: My child. Yasmin – [not] my child – somebody else’s child had autism.

Yasmin: Somebody else’s child, I’m very sorry to hear that. But if they read the Wakefield study in the Lancet in 1998, Dr Wakefield actually said that he didn’t prove an association between MMR and…

JB: Well he wasn’t really allowed to have his say, was he, Yasmin. He was kinda…

Yasmin: I think he was. I think he said it recently in court.

JB: But you’re not…

Yasmin: I think he’s being tried for medical negligence. I think that your programme is extremely irresponsible. You’re talking…

JB: Ah, let me just ask this…Let me ask you this before you go on with that.

How, if you are so certain that your MMR jab is correct, how can 15 minutes on LBC 97.3 rock what people are thinking?


Yasmin: Well, you’d be surprised. And at the moment we are expecting a measles epidemic and it’s because of people like Ken Livingstone and people like yourself.

You talk about young mothers who have a very difficult decision to make and, I agree, they do, and I spend a lot of time talking to them. But people like you don’t really make it any easier for them.

And you were just talking about somebody with an ear infection. I’ve been talking to somebody I know who had a child who woke up with the contents of their ear on the pillow and that was down to the rubella virus.

So you really need to think about what you’re doing here and why you’re doing it.

JB: Well, you see, I could argue, Yasmin, that you have to think about it, too. I’m allowed…

Yasmin: I do, every day.

JB: And so do I, as a parent, and that’s what I’m saying.

Yasmin: I’m a parent. And one of my children has had 3 doses of measles [sic. Possibly meant MMR] and there’s no problem with it. You could have a hundred doses of measles [sic. Possibly meant MMR] and it would do nothing.

[Yasmin and JB talk over each other]

JB: But why give them the vaccine if they get the measles? I never can understand that.

Yasmin: We don’t give vaccines to children who have had measles. They need a combined vaccine of measles, mumps and rubella.


If they have one dose the studies show that they possibly need to be revaccinated within a couple of years to make sure that that protection carries on for life.

JB: Do you not think, though, that as a parent, I am allowed to make a decision about what I put in my kid’s body?

Yasmin: Yes. And do you not think that a parent whose child has cancer and is having chemotherapy and has a much lower resistance to things like measles, mumps and rubella, has a right for their child to go to normal Primary…

JB: Absolutely, absolutely.

Yasmin: A normal Primary School. But because there may be one child in the class, such as yours, who is lucky to have the immunity, that child might get measles, mumps or rubella and die.

JB: Yasmin, my daughter did not have decent immunity which is exactly why I did not have her inoculated.

Yasmin: We don’t. We wait until your child is well and fit enough to give the MMR.

JB: But I don’t want my child to be fiddled with with all sorts of stuff that’s in a vaccine. Now why…

[JB and Yasmin talk over each other]

Let me finish.


Yasmin: Could you tell me what’s in the vaccine? What do you think is in the vaccine?

JB: No, I can’t.

Yasmin: Then how can you make a decision for your child? You’re taking about parents having to make decisions for the child but if you go into any secondary school, which I have done, we’ve been asked to vaccinate kids against MMR, they all say they want it.

If you’re deny immunisation then you’re denying health to your child and other children.

JB: No, no, no. My child is absolutely strong and healthy in many ways…

Yasmin: Then you’re one of the lucky ones aren’t you? If your kid had chemotherapy…

JB: Listen, listen, listen. Yasmin will you stop…Stop.

Yasmin: You’d want your child to be protected, wouldn’t you?

JB: Stop being so dramatic about it. If you

[JB and Yasmin talk over each other.]

Yasmin: You should think about what you’re doing in this programme. You’re doing a lot of damage. A lot of damage.

JB: Well, maybe. I don’t think so.

Yasmin: You don’t know what you’re talking about. You can’t even tell me what’s in an MMR vaccine so you shouldn’t be talking about it.

JB: Well, I can get it…Shall I get it off the internet, Yasmin?

Yasmin: Yeah, get it off the internet, from a reliable source, the such as the Department of Health

JB: Really?

Yasmin: and then I might listen to you, yeah.

JB: The Department of Health frightens people.

Thanks, Yasmin, for your call.

I think it’s quite interesting. When I was told I had a high blood sugar, I was told in that room I had diabetes. I don’t have diabetes, I have high blood sugar. My blood sugar’s normal now but they frightened me. Which is what people like Yasmin does.

This is LBC 97.3.


Sadly, you will recognise all too many of the canards that fly from Jeni’s mouth in the above exchange. It is extraordinary that she condensed so many in such a short time but it is interesting that she makes many of the same errors as Patrick Holford and spreads misinformation on this critical issue of MMR and vaccination.

It is disappointing, but not unexpected to learn that Dr Andrew Wakefield has turned up in the comments of one of Jeni’s posts, offering to lend her his own, unique, brand of charisma and support – except for scientific support, of course.

Related Reading and Updates

It seems that other parts of the astonishing radio segment are beginning to appear. The above is a best endeavours transcript as it was not too clear in places.

Frank Swain of Science Punk: Jeni Barnett MMR show – full transcript

Martin of The Lay Scientist: The Barnett Transcript: Part 2 – The homeopath’s phone call. Martin has made some comments of his own.

Podblack of Podblack Cat: Jeni Barnett On LBC 97.3FM UK Radio – Vs John From Epsom

Dr Rachael Dunlop of Sceptics’ Book: Jeni Barnett talks to Amanda, mother of 8. This section covers ~ 19 to 24 mins of the Jeni Barnett MMR segment. To see the preceding section head to For the full audio, head to my YouTube channel.

Quackometer has part 5: Jeni Barnett MMR Rant Transcript with “Dr Rob”

We, at HolfordWatch are hosting Part 6: Jeni Barnett and the Phone Call with Yasmin on the LBC MMR Segment


Any suggested amendments to the transcript etc., please put in comments. There may be some commentary on parts of this transcript later today.

For people who might like to listen to the audio, while it is available, it is on YouTube.

Jeni Barnett on MMR on LBC Radio Sunday 1 Feb 2009 (I assume) 7 January 2009

Part 1/5

Part 2/5

Part 3/5

Part 4/5

Part 5/5

Should anything happen to those, the Wiki Leaks has the original recording.

Anyone who hasn’t seen it, head over to Julie Oakley of Julie’s Pictures: Ben Goldacre – my hero! – an excellent outline drawing.

Brian Deer has some news on Andrew Wakefield and his research.


9 Feb. 2009. Of course, we are constrained to mention that, after calling for a debate, Jeni Barnett has seen fit to delete comments from her blog. Of course, that doesn’t mean that they have disappeared from the internet…

It also seems to indicate that Jeni Barnett is carrying over the idea of controlling the mike and talking over people to her interactions on the internet (see Ben Goldacre’s comment). This is a very odd idea of an open debate.

10 Feb. 2009. Counterknowledge has identified Jeni Barnett’s exchange with Yasmin as its favourite part of the entire car-crash episode: Aaronovitch: can we sue LBC for Jeni Barnett’s appalling anti-MMR rant?



Filed under Andrew Wakefield, Ben Goldacre, MMR, patrick holford, vaccination, vaccines

35 responses to “Jeni Barnett and the Phone Call with Yasmin on the LBC MMR Segment

  1. Claire

    It’s not clear to me if JB is raising asthma in the context of MMR. If she is recycling claims that it is implicated in rising prevalence among children, then perhaps she should look at this recent very big study . It reports:

    “…We evaluated the association between MMR vaccination and asthma-like disease in early childhood. Our results show that MMR-vaccinated children are less often hospitalized with asthma diagnoses and use less anti-asthma medication than unvaccinated children. This effect was most pronounced among the youngest children and children who were vaccinated age-appropriately…”

    Admin edit: sadly, the clearest thing to emerge from this debacle is that (as Yasmin points out), Jeni Barnett had no idea at all as to what she was talking about – she was regurgitating half-form curds of thoughts that she had chewed over when she came across them.

    Agreed on the study being in support of asthma being less problematic amongst the youngest and age-appropriately-vaccinated children.

  2. podblack

    Sorry! The link is now:

    Thanks for doing this! :)

    Admin edit: links are fixed.

  3. Pingback: Just A Theory » Ben Goldacre vs. Jeni Barnett: legal troubles over MMR scaremongering

  4. DT

    I believe Jeni was saying her child did not have MMR because she suffered from asthma.

    Asthma is NOT a contraindication to giving the vaccine.

    Jeni clearly knows as little about asthma as she knows about MMR. She seems to think “asthma” implies some form of immune deficiency problem in a child. She is quite wrong. If anything, in some kids there is bronchial hyper-reactivity, where a stimulus into the lungs such as inhaled dust/smoke /whatever triggers a degree of spasm within the smooth muscle lining of the airways, causing them to narrow and making the sufferer wheeze. This reaction is only partly mediated by the immune system but is absolutely not a sign of a deficiency in the immune system and certainly does not mean the child should not receive a vaccine.

  5. Katie M

    Yo Yasmin
    She did a great job trying to halt the drivel. Always a problem though when you’re on the end of a phone line – and have a dodgy interviewer hogging their mike and fading you out if your comments get too close for comfort.
    Well done Holfordwatchers and the other Badscience bloggers for their concerted efforts.

    btw – do you think Bond has a copy of FIBMTD on her home bookshelf? Seems like it with the garbage spouted!

    Admin edit: strange, isn’t it. So many of the arguments were common antivax canards and yet there was the whiff of Holfordism and the odder misunderstandings of Patrick Holford and Andrew Wakefield mixed in there somehow.

    Yasmin was very good. It can’t be that easy for someone who is not used to public speaking or speaking on the radio to oppose somebody like Jeni Barnett with public speaking experience and years of acting etc. behind her.

  6. Amanda Shawcross

    Like other people I am so angry about this that I can hardly see straight.

    It’s one thing to be ignorant, it’s another to parade it round even after you’ve been told you’re wrong and have had an opportunity to do some further FACT-checking for yourself.

    She’s got a short memory if she doesn’t remember what measles is like. Did she never wonder where her classmates disappeared to when they ended up going to schools for blind or deaf children after some childhood illness or other?

    Or all the young children with heart defects who didn’t make it to their teens because secondary infections after ‘harmless’ measles or mumps killed them.

    Bad memory, short memory or selective memory.

    This programme is a disgrace. I hope that the advertisers behind LBC and Global Radio have more than a few quiet words with Jeni Barnett and get her to make some retractions and have some sensible, INFORMED discussion.

  7. Nickie

    I usually like Jeni Barnett, strong, passionate, lively – these are good qualities in a talk show host. This is the first time I’ve realised that these qualities can rapidly turn into obnoxious, over-bearing, stupidly obstinate in the face of proof that she is wrong.

    I shan’t be listening in again. It’s too hard to overlook what a dangerously ill-informed woman she is and how close-minded if she won’t take correction on matters of fact.

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  9. soveda

    Three cheers for Yasmin, there were other sensible voices but hers was the clearest and calmest.

  10. Pingback: Jeni Barnett and the LBC Radio MMR Vaccine Segment: Updated with links of blog coverage « Holford Watch: Patrick Holford, nutritionism and bad science

  11. Yasmin

    Re my discussion with Jeni Barnett on LBC.
    I work as a practice nurse for th NHS.
    I was listening to LBC at the end of my shift.(incidently involved wading through the myths surrounding MMR with a parent).
    I was shocked and alarmed to hear Jeni expressing such a dangerous unscientific view based entirely on unresearched personal opinion and expressed with such conviction undermining efforts to eradicate these (and other) serious diseases.

    These are serious issues which should not be so flippantly thrown into the public arena.

    If Jeni and others like her wish to withhold health-promoting vaccines from children, have they thought about all moving to an island where no-one has been vaccinated or ‘fiddled-with’ thereby not posing a risk to others?

    Just a thought…

    Admin edit: Yasmin, there is so much admiration out there for you. Well done.

    A few more examples of people expressing their admiration: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7.

    Dr Petra Boynton has some particularly strong praise for you and singles this incident out as the epitome of why health professionals are so wary of the mainstream media.

    I think from reading this it’s pretty easy to see whose dialogue you could describe as ‘vicious’ – and it wouldn’t be Yasmin.

    Time and again myself and colleagues are invited onto TV or radio programmes or interviewed by print media journalists where we are interrupted, ignored, misunderstood, misquoted, ridiculed and quite often (as in the case of Yasmin above) deliberately insulted…

    You need to be particularly gutsy to have a go like Yasmin did…

  12. Pingback: Jeni Barnett’s MMR scaremongering - the role of homeopathy « gimpy’s blog

  13. Nickie

    Yasmin, I’m so glad that you’ve been out commenting – on behalf of every parent who has to put up with being harangued by antivaccination evangelists who accuse you of poisoning your children and filling them with alien DNA – thanks!

  14. Claire

    I second Nickie above. Clinging to the fond hope that JB might be amenable to reason, another reading suggestion : again, looking at young children (2 yrs) . Full text sadly behind a paywall but the authors conclude:

    “In children at heightened risk for atopy, common childhood immunization in the first year is not associated with an increased risk of more severe eczema or allergic sensitization. Parents of atopic children should be encouraged to fully immunize their children.”

  15. Pingback: Dr Petra Boynton I Blog I Ever wondered why health professionals don’t want to work with the media and the public are misinformed on medical issues?

  16. Pingback: Jeni Barnett Anti-Vaccination Drivel – Irresponsibility at its best. « The Great DBH Rant

  17. Pingback: Jeni Barnett follows the flock of ignorant sheep, spouting pure, unadulterated ignorance about the MMR vaccine. « The Milligan

  18. Pingback: Jeni Barnett spouting pure, unadulterated ignorance about the MMR Vaccine. « The Milligan

  19. Pingback: Ignorant refusal « A canna’ change the laws of physics

  20. Pingback: Skeptical Dog » What is it with Jeni and Jenny… ?

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