Britain's General Medical Council has struck Dr Andrew Wakefield from the medical register and found him guilty of serious professional misconduct after he published a research suggesting a link between a common vaccine and autism.

The study from Wakefield has caused millions of parents worldwide to abandon the vaccine for measles, mumps and rubella.

His research was published in the medical journal Lancet in 1998 alleging a link between autism and the vaccine for measles, mumps and rubella. Ten of the study's authors later renounced its conclusions and it was retracted by the Lancet in February.

It was claimed that at the time of Wakefield's research, he was working as a gastroenterologist at London's Royal Free Hospital and did not have the ethical approval to conduct the study.

Wakefield, 53, then later moved to the US and set up an autism centre in Texas, where he has a wide following, but faces similar skepticism from the medical community. The ruling in Britain only applies to his right to practice medicine in the UK, but not in other countries.

In a statement, Wakefield said the medical council's investigation was an effort to discredit and silence him to shield the government from exposure on the (measles) vaccine scandal. He vowed to continue his research into the link between vaccines and autism.

Two rulings by a special branch of the US Court of Federal Claims in March and last year found no link between vaccines and autism. But more than 5500 claims have been filed by families seeking compensation for children believed to have been hurt by the measles vaccine.

Vaccination rates in Britain have never recovered since Wakefield's research was published in 1998 and there are measles outbreaks in the country every year. The disease is also on the rise in the US.

Numerous other studies have been conducted since then and none have found a connection between autism and any vaccine.

At least a dozen British medical associations including the Royal College of Physicians, the Medical Research Council and the Wellcome Trust have issued statements verifying the safety of the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine.

I hope this ruling will finally persuade the public and some misguided journalists that Dr Wakefield behaved irresponsibly, said Dr Jennifer Best, a virologist at King's College University in London. (The measles) vaccine is a safe vaccine.