Judgment against leading UK paediatrician Sir Roy Meadow, could damage child protection services

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Sir Roy Meadow, one of the country's leading paediatricians, has been struck off, over evidence he gave at the trial of Sally Clark.

Professor Meadow was found guilty of serious professional misconduct last week, by the General Medical Council's (GMC) disciplinary panel, for giving erroneous and misleading evidence in the prosecution of Mrs Clark, evidence which helped to convict her of murdering her two sons.

According to Richard Horton, editor of the the medical journal, The Lancet, the trial was unjust and could put children at greater risk of abuse and murder.

He says the General Medical Council's judgment risks profoundly damaging child protection services.

The GMC's panel found that Professor Meadow, 72, failed in his duty as an expert witness to explain the limited relevance of his findings.

Using debatable statistics, he told the trial, that the chances of two babies suffering cot death within an affluent family was 1 in 73 million.

The paediatrician also referred in his testimony to his much- disputed "Meadow's law" on cot deaths: "one in a family is a tragedy, two is suspicious and three is murder".

Dr Horton argues that the GMC's decision, removes any incentive for the reform of judicial procedures that fail to deal properly with expert evidence.

In his view trainee paediatricians are now less likely to seek a career in child protection, while those in the speciality may weaken their conclusions about alleged child abuse to avoid GMC intrusion.

Dr Horton also accuses the GMC of making an unfair example of Professor Meadow after the Harold Shipman case to protect its own status.

While conceding that the evidence given by Professor Meadow was not intended to mislead, the GMC ruled that his evidence was not balanced and was erroneous.

The paediatrician also contributed to the convictions of Angela Cannings and Donna Anthony, and the failed prosecution of Trupti Patel.

He has 28 days to appeal.


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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