Doctor justifies his role in baby death cases

July 2, 2005

The multiple injuries of Sally Clark’s babies were detailed to the General Medical Council yesterday as a leading paediatricians defended his reputation against accusations that his evidence had led to her wrongful conviction for double murder.Professor Sir Roy Meadow, who is charged with serious professional misconduct for giving “seriously misleading and flawed” statistical evidence at Mrs Clark’s 1999 trial, told how he had concluded her babies had not died naturally.The 72-year-old former president of the Royal College of Paediatricians was speaking publicly about the case for the first time, as he answered his critics at the GMC disciplinary panel to deny serious professional misconduct.Central to the charge against him is his use of the statistic that the chances of two babies dying natural, unexplained deaths in an affluent family like the Clarks were 73m to one – a figure reached by squaring the 8,543-to-one chance of one baby dying of cot death in a family.The figure has since been discredited and Mrs Clark, who served four years in prison, has had her convictions quashed.Prof Meadow, whose evidence was used in the cases of three other women wrongly accused of killing their babies, said he had been quoting the statistic from a highly respected report on sudden infant deaths, which at the time had yet to be published.Defending his right to use the report in his evidence at Mrs Clark’s trial, he said, “I was quoting what I believed to be a very thorough study … by experts, several of whom I knew and respected.”

Guardian Unlimited

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