Saturday, July 16, 2005

Paediatrician Sir Roy Meadow Struck Off

UK: A senior paediatrician whose misleading testimony led to a mother being wrongfully jailed for the murder of her two baby sons was today struck off the medical register.

The General Medical Council (GMC) found Professor Sir Roy Meadow, 72, guilty of serious professional misconduct for giving evidence beyond his expertise at the trial of solicitor Sally Clark.

Prof Meadow, a former president of the Royal College of Paediatricians, is now barred from practising medicine in the UK.

Prof Meadow wrongly stated in Mrs Clark's trial in 1999 that there was just a "one in 73 million" chance that two babies from an affluent family like hers could suffer cot death. The actual odds were only one in 77.

The GMC fitness to practise panel said in its verdict that Prof Meadow had failed in his duty to check the validity of his statistics. It added: "You should have refrained from giving expert evidence upon matters beyond your competence, but this again, you failed to do."

The panel decided it was "in the public interest" to strike the paediatrician off because his breaches of the duties as an expert witness were "significant and grave". The serious and fundamental nature of his errors were further compounded by his repeated use of the erroneous statistics.

The panel therefore concluded that it was "proportionate in safeguarding the public interest and in promoting and maintaining that trust that your name be erased from the medical register".

Prof Meadow has 28 days to appeal the decision before he is struck off.

The verdict came a day after the GMC disciplinary panel found Prof Meadow had given "erroneous" and "misleading" evidence in Mrs Clark's trial in 1999. Her sons died of sudden infant death syndrome (Sids), commonly known as cot death, in the late 1990s. She served four years in jail until her convictions were quashed.

In a statement, the Clark family welcomed the decision and admonished Prof Meadow. They also urged the GMC to make changes to its disciplinary procedures that would speed up the process.

The family said: "We are pleased that, after nearly seven long years, Meadow has finally been held to account by his profession for his erroneous and misleading evidence, which we feel was primarily responsible for the terrible miscarriage of justice suffered by Sally.

"We hope that the GMC's findings will finally send a strong message to doctors, reminding them of the care they should take to carry out their duty to be impartial, honest and balanced when giving evidence as expert witnesses."

Prof Meadow also acted as an expert witness in the cases of Angela Cannings and Donna Anthony, whose children also died of cot death and were wrongly convicted partly on the basis of his evidence.

Ms Cannings, who was cleared in 2003 of murdering two of her children, told BBC News 24 that the verdict was "fantastic, very positive news." She said: "I feel a huge relief that the GMC has made him accountable for what he has done."

Ms Cannings' husband, Terry, 51, added: "I just feel very relieved. I'm glad that common sense has prevailed."

George Hawks, the solicitor for Donna Anthony, said neither he nor his client took pleasure in Prof Meadow's downfall. He said: "It's never nice for anyone to have their career ruined in this way. I speak on behalf of Donna, who is not in any way vindictive towards him. All she'd ever asked was that he acknowledge that he had got it wrong, at least in her case."

The president of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, Professor Sir Alan Craft, called for the role of expert witnesses in court cases to be "urgently reviewed" to restore public confidence.

He said: "What is now absolutely vital is that something good comes out of this whole episode. We need urgently to examine the role of expert witnesses in our courts and to recommend how the system can be improved. Above all else, we must re-establish confidence in the role of expert witnesses in court."

Sir Alan added that the GMC's decision to strike Prof Meadow off the register was "saddening" because during his "long and distinguished career" he had undoubtedly saved many children's lives.

By Roxanne Escobales and David Batty posted 16 July 05


Parents challenge shaken baby convictions
The jury in each of the so-called shaken baby cases had been asked to infer from the expert evidence that the three men and one woman had violently mishandled their child victims in a momentary fit of temper, said Michael Mansfield QC.

Clark case pathologist banned
UK: A Home Office pathologist who failed to disclose evidence that could have helped to clear Sally Clark of the murder of her two sons has been found guilty of serious professional misconduct by the General Medical Council.

Baby deaths doctor'breached duty to be fair'
UK: A Home Office pathologist who claimed there was "overwhelming evidence" of a double murder in the Sally Clark baby case undertook "serious and repeated departures" from expected medical standards, a disciplinary panel heard.

Mother's conviction quashed for killing her children
LONDON - The conviction of a mother convicted six years ago of killing her two children has been quashed by London's Appeal Court.

Experts in child abuse cases face inquiry
UK: The government launched an official inquiry into the quality of expert medical evidence in child abuse cases last Thursday, as the implications of the miscarriage of justice in the Angela Cannings case continued to perplex ministers.

Cot deaths and justice
Did you kill your babies?' A whisper came from the crumpled figure in the dock: 'No.' The whisper grew louder: 'No, no.' It was as if we were witnessing torture in Reading Crown Court. It is hard to imagine a crueller inquisition than that which faced Trupti Patel: a mother loses three babies in cot death and then goes through the hell of being accused of murdering them.

Accused of abuse, but never tried

Mothers Sally Clark and Trupti Patel found themselves in the dock accused of murdering their babies partly on the strength of expert testimony by Sir Roy Meadows. But other families have been forcibly separated thanks to Sir Roy's testimony without police charges ever being brought.

Cot Death Mothers: The Witch Hunt
John Sweeney investigates when mothers, grieving the loss of a child after cot death, are wrongly accused of murder.


Appeals court told woman's sentence barbaric!

Appeal: Folbigg's lawyers argue her sentence is barbaric.But is she guilty? When she has maintains her innocence? And what about "Meadows law"?

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome! & The Kathleen Folbigg Case
Kathleen Megan Folbigg, 37, is either Australia's worst female serial killer or her case is a serious miscarriage of justice in which an innocent mother has been wrongfully convicted of infanticide.

Folbigg, convicted until proven innocent
Convicted August 2003 for the manslaughter of her eldest child Caleb, and the murder of her next three children, Patrick, Sarah and Laura. Disturbing similarities between the case of Kathleen Folbigg and that of Sally Clark (nb. Other Meadows cases Trupti Patel, Angela Cannings, Donna Anthony, Margaret Smith, Julie Ferris, Maxine Robinson) using "Meadows law" one cot death is tragic, two suspicious, three murder." The Attorney-General in England is reviewing more than 250 cases where a parent may have been wrongly convicted. In other words, Professor Meadows evidence has been totally discredited. There is a furore in England, but no mention in Australian press?

Folbigg may have been innocent
On the other hand, some people simply lied or got it wrong because the system failed, The prosecution is not equal to the defence, professional opinions can be flawed and juries can determine the wrong evidence.

Family tragedy in police spotlight
JOSEPHINE CAFAGNA, REPORTER: Next week the last chapter will be played out in a case that shocked the nation, the case of Kathleen Folbigg, found guilty of killing her four babies in NSW, at first thought to have died of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. Next week Kathleen Folbigg will know the sentence for her crime. In May this year, following the Folbigg conviction, Stateline made inquiries here in Victoria about any cases of multiple SIDS deaths in the one family. Stateline asked the Homicide Squad, the Coroners Court, Human Services Victoria and the SIDS Foundation if any cases were being re-examined in light of the Folbigg case. The answer was no.