British authorities stripped the doctor whose research first suggested a link between autism and vaccines of his medical license Monday.

The move, which was widely anticipated, comes after Britain’s General Medical Council determined in January that Dr. Andrew Wakefield acted “dishonestly and irresponsibly” in conducting his research.

Wakefield’s 1998 study triggered fears of a connection between the measles, mumps and rubella, or MMR, vaccine and autism, which have since been discredited.

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In taking away Wakefield’s medical license this week, the medical board prevented the doctor from practicing in Britain. But the action is largely symbolic since Wakefield has not practiced in that country for many years. Instead, he headed a research program at an Austin, Texas autism center until resigning in February, though he was never licensed to practice medicine in the United States.

In an interview last week with the Austin American-Statesman, Wakefield said he expected his medical license to be revoked, but would continue researching anyway.