Following two and a half years of hearings, a GMC panel ruled that allegations he carried out invasive tests on children which were against their best clinical interests and paid children £5 for blood samples at his son’s birthday party were proven on both counts.

Regarding the tests on the patients, the panel also said Dr Wakefield had acted with “callous disregard for the pain they might suffer”.

The panel added: “[We] wish to make it clear that this case is not concerned with whether there is or might be any link between the MMR vaccination and autism.”

The medical regulator must now decide whether Dr Wakefield is guilty of serious professional misconduct. This will not occur for another couple of months though, despite yesterday’s ruling.

Unite lead professional officer Obi Amadi said: “Hopefully, the GMC’s damning verdict will now put an end, once and for all, to the debate about MMR.

“Health visitors and community nurses will be giving parents the information to make the best informed choice. We hope this will encourage parents to take-up the MMR vaccine and create the ‘herd’ immunity, covering 95 per cent of the population, which will keep these diseases at bay.”