How one of the UK’s top research scientists has been smeared, vilified, and forced into silence for his lifelong commitment to genuinely “following the science”   

An exclusive report by Miri Anne Finch

Internationally renowned scientist, Professor Chris Exley, has been forced out of his longstanding university position because his ground-breaking research challenged vaccine dogmas. Researching vaccine safety has lost him the support of standard funders, attracted malicious media smear campaigns, and, eventually, cost him his livelihood. Here is the full report of how it happened, how I got involved, and why it is critical we expose this shocking story of corruption, injustice, and science sold out.

When I started to become seriously concerned with issues surrounding vaccine ethics and safety – after I was nearly force-vaccinated at university and threatened with expulsion and deportation if I did not comply (a threat I challenged and successfully overturned) – I had no idea where to turn to find credible further information. After all, I had been strenuously warned off all the ‘quacks’ and ‘conspiracy theorists’ on the internet, and, coming from an academic background myself – I had grown up on a university campus where both my father and grandfather had lectured for many decades – I wanted to engage with solid science and accomplished scientists in my quest to further explore and understand the undeniable safety concerns surrounding vaccinations.

At first, my search turned up very little (I didn’t know at the time that Google obscures anti-establishment search results, making information counter to the mainstream narrative very difficult to find), and the few scientists investigating vaccine safety concerns I did discover, were primarily based in America – a country with a very different medical, social, and political climate to the UK. I knew I needed something closer to home if I was to properly explore and engage with this issue, but it seemed there was very little available on home soil.

I was becoming more than a little demoralised and starting to suspect I would hit endless dead ends in my research endeavours, when, one day, I happened to tune into a podcast that was half-way through interviewing a scientist named Professor Chris Exley. Exley, the podcast informed me, was widely known as ‘Mr. Aluminium’ and regarded as the world’s foremost expert on the metal and its dangers to human health. Aluminium is a common vaccine ingredient – it is added to many non-attenuated vaccines as an adjuvant, to stimulate a stronger immune response – and is known to be linked to some of the most serious vaccine adverse events. There is no known safe quantity of aluminium to inject into the human body, and there are no clinically approved aluminium adjuvants.

“There are clinically approved vaccines which contain aluminium adjuvants,” explained Professor Exley, who is not ‘anti-vaccine’. “But the adjuvants themselves have never been studied independently and verified safe.”

A biologist by profession, with degrees from the University of Stirling, Exley has held a Royal Society University Research Fellowship and is currently a Fellow of the Royal Society of Biology. He had, by the time I heard this interview, been studying aluminium for over thirty years and had published prolifically in a wide array of top research journals. He was most widely known at the time for his research linking aluminium accumulation in the brain to Alzheimer’s disease.

I listened avidly to Professor Exley’s highly engaging and very accessible descriptions of aluminium and its potential dangers (no “blinding with science” here), and I thought how great it would be to talk to him further. But, I concluded, he’s probably based miles away. Probably not even in this country. He had an English accent, but I felt sure, based on my attempted explorations into the vaccine safety field to date, a researcher as accomplished as him would have been snapped up by some wealthy international institution years ago.

I could therefore hardly believe my ears when the interviewer stated at the end of the interview that Professor Exley was based at the University of Keele; the UK university campus where I had grown up, and where my family had been based since the 1950s. Upon looking Professor Exley’s profile up on the university website, it emerged that his office was a stone’s throw away from my childhood home.

Like another eminent scientist, Carl Jung, I don’t believe in coincidences, so I immediately composed an email to Professor Exley, asking him if it would be possible to talk further. I congratulated him on his great work and, in particular, on making it so accessible to ordinary people, at a time when we live in an increasingly oppressive technocracy, based on the extremely ominous idea that only ‘experts’ are allowed to read, think about, and comment upon scientific findings. It was abundantly clear that Professor Exley was not a proponent of this view, and that he had spent a great deal of time throughout his highly accomplished career giving interviews to ‘ordinary people’ and speaking at non-specialist events – including ‘alternative’ events – in order to make his work as accessible as possible to as wide a variety of people as possible.

Professor Exley – or ‘Chris’, as he signed himself in his reply – wrote back to me that same day, stating how nice it was to hear from me (he remembered my family well, he said, having been based at the university since 1992) and inviting me to meet with him in his office. I was thrilled… but also a little apprehensive.

Having grown up on a university campus, I was aware that senior and celebrated academics can sometimes be a little stuffy or superior – especially where mere ‘civilians’ without a string of postgraduate qualifications like myself are concerned – but Chris could not have been more accommodating, engaging, or down-to-earth. Expecting our meeting to last around 20 minutes, we ended up talking for over an hour, and by the end of it, Chris had suggested that one way I could become more involved in the vaccine safety debate and help this come to more prominence in the UK was to start my own website – which heralded the birth of STRIVE (the Student and Teacher Research Initiative for Vaccine Education), a comprehensive vaccine resource, informed by verifiable science, aimed at young people to help guide their vaccine choices. STRIVE is now six years old, and, in that time, has served as a launchpad for introducing me to hundreds of incredible people involved in vaccine safety activism.

Over the subsequent years, I continued to follow Chris’ work closely, as his career went from strength to strength, and he continued as a prolific publisher of cutting-edge academic research, becoming one of Keele University’s star researchers in terms of attracting large research grants (the sustaining lifeblood for any university). As anyone who has ever been involved in academic research knows, successfully attracting grants is a challenging and stringent process, and researchers and their awarding bodies must pass through a number of rigorous checks and balances. Chris and the bodies who supported his research always passed with flying colours, bringing into the university more than £5 million in funding by 2021.

Although Chris’ research had always been somewhat controversial – the immensely wealthy aluminium industry has never been too keen on having its products linked to severe neurological illness, funnily enough – and, as a result, by 2015, many aluminium research groups throughout the UK and world had bowed to industry pressure and closed down, Keele had always remained steadfast in its unconditional support of Chris’ research endeavours. This proved particularly important as time went on, as – as Chris’ research became ever-more challenging to the extremely wealthy and influential aluminium and pharmaceutical industries – more and more standard funders – often beset with conflicts of interests regarding said industries – declined his funding applications. This led Chris and his team to look further afield, to more unconventional sources of funding, which Keele was always happy to support, provided the funders in question passed their own internal checks – which they always did.

All this began to change, however, when, in 2015, there was an abrupt change in management at the university, and Vice Chancellor Nick Foskett – a professional educator who had begun his career as a schoolteacher – took sudden early retirement, and was replaced by Trevor McMillan, a radiobiologist who had occupied high-ranking positions in the NHS and, until 2014, served on an advisory board for Public Health England.

McMillan’s appointment coincided with Chris’ research team focussing more attention on aluminium adjuvants in vaccines, an area that was becoming of increasing importance to the public, as more and more people were noticing negative health changes in themselves and family members following receiving aluminium-containing vaccines. Chris was contacted particularly frequently by parents of teenage girls who had suffered severe adverse events following receipt of the aluminium-laden HPV vaccines, the now-discontinued Cervarix, and Gardasil.Merck, producers of the Gardasil vaccine, used a novel aluminium adjuvant in the production of this vaccine, which they have consistently refused to release to independent scientists for review. Chris spoke publicly about his concerns regarding the HPV vaccines in the three-part documentary series, Sacrificial Virgins, produced by award-winning former BBC broadcaster, Joan Shenton.

As public scrutiny on vaccine safety continued to intensify, in 2016, Chris and his team published a seminal new study on aluminium adjuvants, concluding that, “the loading of aluminium into viable cells offers a mechanism whereby significant amounts of aluminium, a known neurotoxin, might be translocated throughout the body and even across the blood-brain barrier and into the central nervous system”. In other words, aluminium from vaccines doesn’t always remain at the injection site before being broken down and flushed out by the body, as is frequently claimed by vaccine manufacturers; in fact, it can travel to other areas of the body, including the brain, and, as a known neurotoxin, would clearly therefore be capable of doing some damage.

This conclusion was furiously resisted by the immensely wealthy and powerful pharmaceutical industry, who have always insisted the adjuvants in vaccines are safe. But, as ‘Mr. Aluminium’, Professor Chris Exley, has repeatedly impressed upon his critics – there is no evidence to determine this, as no aluminium adjuvant has ever been independently studied and verified safe.

In a piece for medical blog, The Hippocratic Post, Exley explained, “[t]here are no clinically-approved aluminium adjuvants only clinically approved vaccines which use aluminium adjuvants. This makes it imperative that all vaccine trials which use aluminium salts as adjuvants must not use the aluminium adjuvant as the control or placebo. This has been common practice for many years and has resulted in many vaccine-related adverse events due in part or in entirety to aluminium adjuvants being unaccounted for in vaccine safety trials.”

As a result of his work on aluminium adjuvants, Chris Exley’s name became more prominent in vaccine safety circles, and as a result, he found himself increasingly inundated by messages from individuals who wanted to support his work.  He therefore approached his university about the possibility of a donations’ portal on the university’s website, where individuals could make charitable donations to support further research. Although these discussions began in 2013, it was not until 2016 that such a portal was finally established by the University.

Although this portal initially worked well, and Chris would receive an email notification whenever a donation was made, less than 18 months later, he was abruptly informed by university management that the portal was ‘unsuitable’ and he needed to contact an IT technician about changing it. He promptly did so, and was informed that action would be taken to create a more ‘suitable’ portal.

Six months later, this action had still not been applied, and in April 2019 – over a year after his initial donations’ portal had been deemed ‘unsuitable’ – and in receipt of many emails from supporters stating they were unable to donate via the existing link, Chris received notification that the Finance department of the university had been instructed to completely disable the donations link many months before. There had been no consultation whatsoever with Chris regarding this.

Although a new donations portal was eventually established, this was beset with multiple obstacles (including Chris’ name being removed from the drop-down menu to indicate who the donation was for) and, by February 2021, had been terminated permanently.

In the period leading up to this termination, Keele University had also begun targeting multiple other areas of potential funding for Professor Exley’s research, including funding emanating from the Children’s Medical Safety Research Institute (CMSRI), a USA-based initiative concerned with the deteriorating health of children in developed countries and the explosion of chronic illness in this cohort.  The CMSRI is especially interested in investigating what role the ever-expanding children’s vaccination schedule may have played in children’s health decline, given many chronic disorders now so common in children, are also known and documented potential side effects of vaccines.

CMSRI had made several generous research donations to Exley’s team over the years, donations which Keele had always been very pleased to accept. However, in 2021, Keele declared that grants from CMSRI would no longer be admissible, due to what Keele alleged was the institute’s “anti-vaccine” stance.

Chris Exley is not anti-vaccine and has pointed out on several occasions that rigorously investigating vaccine safety concerns is crucial to increasing public confidence in vaccine programmes around the world. The public has valid concerns over the use of aluminium adjuvants in vaccines and therefore it is imperative these concerns are investigated fully to resolve any issues and restore public faith in vaccinations. The grants from CMSRI were funding this vital research, and the results were reported accurately in the relevant journals. If, as the pharmaceutical industry claims, these adjuvants are safe, then that is what the research would have found. But that the research did not find this demands that further investigation is undertaken as a matter of urgency. For Keele University to terminate this possibility by severing funding does a gross disservice to science and to human health across the world.

Exley and his team kept their large network of international followers abreast of these developments, and the increasing struggles they were facing in securing research funding. These appeals attracted the attention of Robert F. Kennedy Jr., a long-time public health advocate and activist, who has made a career of holding corrupt industry to account through his work as an attorney. Immediately appreciating the critical importance of Exley’s research, and the severity of the threat posed to it if donations became inaccessible, Mr. Kennedy wrote a personal cheque for $15,000 and sent it to Exley’s team via Keele University.

To the stunned disbelief of both Professor Exley and Mr. Kennedy, Keele University rejected the donation, citing ‘reputational concerns’. To reject a donation from a private individual with no corporate conflicts is effectively unheard of within academia.

Challenging the university on this extraordinary decision, Mr. Kennedy wrote, in a now-public letter to Keele’s Pro Vice Chancellor, David Amigoni,

You explain that accepting my donation could “jeopardize the strong relationships [Keele] holds with its existing major funders and partners”. I assume that you mean to imply that some well-meaning philanthropist donor might have stumbled across, and believes, the defamatory pharmaceutical industry slur that I am “anti-vaccine”. If that is indeed the case, it still seems unfair to punish Dr. Exley—and those who benefit from his research—for a strategic slander against me that is patently inaccurate. I have always made it clear that I am not “anti-vaccine”. I want safe vaccines, robust science and uncorrupted regulators. By calling me “anti-vax”, vaccine companies seek to discredit, marginalize, silence me so as to prevent me from raising legitimate, urgent questions about the thoroughness of vaccine safety and efficacy assessments.

I have never made a statement that could be legitimately construed as “anti-vaccine”. To the contrary, I have spent my 37-year career as an environmental and public health advocate fighting for evidence-based science, and science-based policy. I have prevailed in many hundreds of lawsuits against the world’s largest polluters and I have helped build, and currently run, the globe’s largest water protection group; Waterkeeper Alliance, the umbrella organization of 350 Waterkeepers in 48 nations—including the U.K. I spent much of the past three decades fighting to get mercury out of fish, pesticides out of food, and to decarbonize our energy system. No one calls me “anti-fish” , “anti-food”, or “anti-energy”. Nor should Pharma be given credence when it attempts to dismiss me as “anti-vaccine” simply because I have challenged the use of toxic metals such as mercury and aluminum in vaccines.

The only people with genuine reason to object to my donation are the vaccine industry, it’s stakeholders, and captive regulators. I presume that these are the cohorts who actually pressured you to reject my donation.”

You can read more about this incident, and the full correspondence with the university, – including a supporting correspondence from me, in my capacity as having long standing personal and professional ties to the university – in the article that Mr. Kennedy published on his Children’s Health Defence website, here.

Despite being held to account by a member of the Kennedy family, one of the most prominent and well-respected dynasties on Earth, Keele University held firm and reiterated its refusal to accept Mr. Kennedy’s donation. Meanwhile, they were quite happy to accept an enormous donation from a dubious online betting company, and even name one of their buildings after its founder. While Chris Exley’s work seeks to protect people from harm and improve and enhance human health all over the world, online gambling seeks to exploit and capitalise upon human weakness and misery, with the number of lives irreparably decimated by gambling addictions inestimable. While this stark contrast has been pointed out to Keele University by several people, it does not appear to have prompted any ethical concerns or change in donations policy.

It was around this time that Chris Exley was also coming to increasing prominence in the mainstream media, mainly as a result of a ground-breaking 2018 study he had co-authored, entitled ‘Aluminium in brain tissue in autism’. This study, which was the first of its kind, looked at the concentration of aluminium in those who had died with an autism diagnosis – and found they had disproportionately large amounts. This stunning finding, corroborating many longstanding concerns about the connection between aluminium exposure and the development of autism, attracted enormous attention in the UK and around the world and was downloaded from the publisher’s website over a million times, making it one of the most widely-read scientific studies ever.

Despite this fact, at the time of publishing, the study was almost completely ignored by the mainstream media, with the Mail Online the only UK news resource to pick it up. The Mail’s article, which initially reflected the study’s findings accurately and impartially, has since been amended, to instead reflect the mainstream bias and press smear campaign against Professor Exley’s work. The article now opens with the note:

  • This article has been amended since first publication to remove a republication of the Hippocratic Post article, and to clarify criticisms of the author’s research.

Even more extraordinary was that Chris’ own university did not report the study in any of its own internal memos or newsletters.

As most readers of this piece will have learned to their cost,  linking vaccines to autism in any way – even tangentially, by observing that vaccines contain aluminium and aluminium is linked to autism – is the ultimate heresy and taboo within mainstream circles, and anybody who attempts to do this professionally is likely to be smeared, vilified, and ultimately have their career and professional reputation destroyed – as was so starkly illustrated by the case of Andrew Wakefield.

Whatever one’s personal views on the Wakefield saga, his treatment by the press sent a clear and irrefutable message to all scientists – if your research draws any connection between vaccines and autism, then, no matter how accomplished a scientist you are nor how credible your research, you will be destroyed. As medical safety advocate and award-winning film producer, Del Bigtree, who has interviewed Professor Exley, has remarked, “The really sad thing is the amount of doctors who say to me, “I know that vaccines are causing autism, but I won’t say it on camera, because the pharmaceutical industry will destroy my career just like they did to Andy Wakefield.”

Once he made this connection himself with his own research, it quickly became apparent that Professor Exley was to be ‘Wakefielded’, with merciless media hit pieces beginning to appear on him throughout the mainstream press. The first such example appeared in the online clickbait ‘Buzzfeed’, which was then swiftly followed up by pieces in The Guardian and Sunday Times – the latter being the same vehicle that orchestrated the ruthless smear campaign against Dr. Wakefield. I wrote to the Sunday Times about their ‘article’ (really nothing more than a cynical and highly misleading propagandist assault), a letter you can see here.

Meanwhile, The Guardian, libellously describing Professor Exley as an “academic who promote[s] anti-vaccine misinformation”, published a vicious polemic insinuating that Exley was benefitting personally from the charitable support of his work from donors, by stating that “he” had raised more than £150,000 in research funding through his university website’s online portal. The Guardian refrained from clarifying that this money does not go to Professor Exley in a personal capacity and is only available to be used as research funding; research that has always followed all the proper protocols, met with peer review requirements, and has never been found to be in any way illegitimate.

Within days of the publication of The Guardian’s article, Keele University management – rather than vigorously defending one of their star researchers and his academic freedom – disabled the donations portal for Exley’s work permanently.

At this point, with virtually all his funding avenues blocked, Chris and his team faced a stark dilemma: how would their vital research be able to continue with no funds? Hoping to be able to move forward on the issue with his employers, when he approached Keele University senior management, Chris was met with a mixture of hostility, defamation, and lies. Commenting on the situation on his website, Chris observes that the Keele administration has, since the appointment of Trevor McMillan as Vice-Chancellor, engaged in an effective witch-hunt against him – mischaracterising his views and undermining the importance and impact of his research – with the ultimate aim of terminating his research permanently. Chris says:

“[D]ocuments show that within one day of the publication of the article in The Guardian, the Vice Chancellor, Professor TJ McMillan, has openly branded me and my research as anti-vaccine and disseminated these views to senior management at Keele.”

He continues, “The following comment from the ‘discussion paper’, shown below in italics, is the first to undermine significantly my research and myself.

‘The Advisory Group have considered the recent guardian press coverage of Dr Chris Exley’s research and the link to anti-vaccination. Dr Exley’s views on this area have been an ongoing area of concern for the University leadership, as although the scientific research he conducts is adequate; his conclusions and publicised views are less compelling and have limited academic integrity.’ 

​“This is an outrageous comment and misinforms a committee membership that does not know me from Adam. As such, they will undoubtedly accept his personal views without any need of evidence to support them.”

The ultimate corollary of this extraordinary situation has been that Professor Chris Exley – as one of Keele’s most loyal, prolific, and celebrated research academics – was forced to abruptly terminate his career in August 2021.

In the concluding section of his public comment on the situation, Professor Exley says, “In future, as suggested by the VC, I can make applications to the UK research councils and similar government-funded bodies as a box-ticking exercise. However, the stark reality of his actions is that if I returned to Keele I would no longer be research active. He knew very well that by withdrawing the lifeblood of research from my activities at Keele that I would not be returning.

“I have written this statement to explain why I had no choice but to leave Keele. I express no judgement on those mentioned by name. I am not pursuing any form of direct justice. I am drawing a line under these highly unfortunate circumstances. I am proud of my achievements at Keele University and I have always been proud to be a Keele academic.”

Let us reiterate at this point that the Vice Chancellor of Keele University, Professor Trevor McMillan, has occupied senior positions in the NHS and has served on an advisory board of Public Health England. Both Public Health England and the NHS are extremely ardent supporters of vaccination that routinely downplay, or disregard altogether, the documented severe damage it is known vaccines can and do cause.

Some other saliant facts about Keele University and its lucrative ties to those heavily invested in creating and promoting vaccines, are that the university is a recipient of funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. This organisation is known to be an aggressive promoter of vaccination around the world and its eponymous founders have consistently dismissed and smeared vaccine safety concerns as “anti-vax conspiracy theories”. As Robert F. Kennedy Jr. detailed in his letter to Keele University, quoted earlier in this article, organisations who profit from vaccination routinely defame and mischaracterise the concerns of vaccine safety advocates in an attempt to discredit, marginalise and silence them.

It is also worth noting that Keele University, via its science park, is home to Cobra Biologics, the manufacturers of the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccination. To quote from Keele’s website,

“Cobra, which has two facilities on the University’s Science and Innovation Park, has signed a supply agreement with the global pharmaceutical giant to manufacture vaccine candidate AZD1222” (emphasis mine).

I will leave it to the discernment and discretion of the reader to determine whether the malignment, vilification, and ultimate termination of world-class scientist Professor Chris Exley and his internationally celebrated research, may be in any way connected to the colossal amount of revenue Keele University is in receipt of as a result of uncritically supporting and promoting vaccinations.

By composing this article, it is the hope of its author that this kind of astonishing corruption and suppression of urgently important science – that is unfortunately not uncommon – can begin to be brought to light, and action taken accordingly.

Academic freedom should be the fundamental founding principle of any university, and academics rigorously and unconditionally supported to pursue it – free from any ‘conflicts of interest’ that may be influencing university management.

The bullying, censoring, silencing, and personal and professional persecution directed at Professor Chris Exley, one of the most talented, prolific, and courageous scientists of his generation, is nothing short of a national scandal, and deserves to be thoroughly exposed and investigated by all the relevant bodies as such.

Scandalous as it is, however, this is but a small slice of the systematic corruption and strangulation of real science that rages within all our most trusted institutions, including universities, the Houses of Parliament, and the NHS.

Events of the last 18 months have revealed irrefutably that our democracy hangs by a thread and that our most prized social values of personal liberty, academic freedom, and freedom of speech are dangerously imperilled.

Please act now to ensure this story, and all stories like it, are widely circulated to encourage eyes and minds to open to the critical danger we as a liberal democracy face – before it is too late.

For more information on Professor Exley and his research, and to join his mailing list, please visit his website at: