Thu 15 Jan 2004

MP Demands Review of Child Doctor's Cases

By Vivienne Morgan, Political Staff, PA News

The Government should launch a review of family law cases involving evidence from the controversial retired paediatrician Professor Sir Roy Meadow, Tories demanded today.

Professor Meadow was a prosecution witness during the trial of Angela Cannings, whose conviction in 2002 for murdering her two baby sons was quashed last December.

The decision to free her came after two similar cases in which the paediatrician was a prosecution witness.

Solicitor Sally Clark won her appeal in January 2003 to overturn her conviction in 1999 for murdering her two baby sons, and pharmacist Trupti Patel was found not guilty last June of murdering her three babies.

The Crown Prosecution Service said the decision to quash Mrs Clark’s murder convictions did not hinge on Professor Meadow’s statistics – rather on non-disclosure of evidence by the pathologist Dr Alan Williams.

At question time, Solicitor General Harriet Harman said she had discussed the issue of family law cases involving Professor Meadow’s evidence with Margaret Hodge, the Minister for Children.

The written judgment of the Court of Appeal in the Angela Cannings case was expected in a fortnight, she added.

When this was received, she and Mrs Hodge would explain, respectively, what action was proposed in criminal and family cases involving his evidence.

The issue was raised by Tory George Osborne, who said: “Professor Meadow’s flawed evidence was instrumental in two massive miscarriages of justice in the case of my constituent Sally Clark and in the Angela Cannings case and also instrumental in the collapse of the (case) of Trupti Patel.”

Mr Osborne (Tatton) continued: “Will you confirm you have still not actually started to review criminal cases where Professor Meadow’s evidence was instrumental?

“Will you also confirm ... that there is as yet no attempt to review all the family court cases?

“There, too, there may be great miscarriages of justice where children have been taken away from parents and families have been broken apart because of the same kind of evidence from Professor Meadow.”

Ms Harman replied: “In the Sally Clark case, she was convicted. She was then freed on appeal and ... the Court of Appeal said, when they gave their written judgment, that their concern was about Dr Williams.”

The Government had established a review of all criminal cases where the mother was still in prison, the offence was of killing the child, and where Dr Williams’ evidence was material, she explained.

Ms Harman stressed she was liaising closely with Mrs Hodge about the family jurisdiction.

She added: “We are at work already on the issues in the criminal jurisdiction. We are not sitting around whilst there might be miscarriages of justice which are then left undealt with.”

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