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Top UK paediatrician struck off register - unprofessional as court expert - 15/7/2005

link to article in bbc news

Sir Roy Meadow struck off by GMC

Sir Roy denies serious professional misconduct
The General Medical Council has struck off paediatrician Professor Sir Roy Meadow after his "misleading" evidence in the Sally Clark case.
The GMC announced on Friday that Sir Roy had been found guilty of serious professional misconduct.

Sir Roy had stood by his evidence, but admitted his use of statistics at Mrs Clark's 1999 trial was "insensitive".

Mrs Clark was convicted of murdering her two sons, but she was exonerated after an appeal in 2003.

The GMC said Sir Roy's conduct had been "fundamentally unacceptable".

He has undoubtedly saved the lives of many children

Sir Alan Craft, President of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health


Profile: Professor Sir Roy Meadow
What now for expert witnesses?

Frank Lockyer, Mrs Clark's father, who brought the case, broke down in tears as he welcomed the verdict.

He said: "The GMC has applied the ultimate sanction to the doctor who played such a huge part in my daughter's conviction.

"Now perhaps we, as a family, can put the last seven years of hell behind us and move on."

Mrs Clark was eventually freed after it become apparent that another witness at her trial, pathologist Alan Williams, had failed to disclose key medical evidence.

The chair of the GMC panel considering Sir Roy's case said it was vital the public had confidence in the experts brought before the court and that was why he had to be struck off, rather than be given a lesser penalty.

The paediatrician left the hearing without commenting on the GMC's decision.

'Grand National' odds

During the trial, Sir Roy said the probability of two natural unexplained cot deaths in the family was 73 million to one.

Meadow cases
Sally Clark: Served three years after being wrongly convicted of killing her two sons
Angela Cannings: Served 18 months after being wrongly convicted of killing her two sons
Donna Anthony: Served six years after being wrongly convicted of killing her son and daughter
Trupti Patel: Cleared of killing three of her children

The figure was later disputed by the Royal Statistical Society and other experts have said that once genetic and environmental factors are taken into consideration, the odds are closer to 200 to one.

The panel's chairman, Mary Clark-Glass, said Sir Roy was an eminent paediatrician.

But she added: "You should not have strayed into areas that were not within your remit of expertise."

The panel had earlier decided Sir Roy had not meant to mislead the Clark trial, but said his evidence had done so because it "erroneously implied" two natural deaths in a family would have to be independent of one another.

Giving evidence to the hearing, Sir Roy defended the calculations he used to arrive at the 73 million to one figure.

But he said he regretted comparing the odds of two cot deaths in the same family to that of a punter successfully backing an 80-1 shot at the Grand National four years in a row.

Respect

Sir Roy also gave evidence as an expert witness in the trials of two other women, Angela Cannings and Donna Anthony, who were both freed on appeal after being convicted of murdering their children.

Angela Cannings described the GMC decision as "fantastic" news, and called on Sir Roy to apologise.

"It's an immense relief that justice has been done."

"It is recognition for what he did wrong to us as a family, what he did wrong to the Clark family, what he has done wrong to other families."

George Hawks, solicitor for Donna Anthony, said: "She is not vindictive. She just wanted him to acknowledge he had got it wrong in her case and offer her an apology."

The hearing had heard testimonies from leading paediatricians in support of Sir Roy, who retains a great deal of respect within the medical profession.

Professor Sir Alan Craft, President of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, said the decision to strike Sir Roy off was "saddening".

He added: "He has had a long and distinguished career in paediatrics in which he has undoubtedly saved the lives of many children.

"We must be clear however that this hearing focussed solely on the evidence he gave in one particular court case. It does not reflect upon the rest of his career."

Sir Alan said the role of expert witnesses had to be examined urgently so improvements can be made and confidence in the system could be re-established.








 
 
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