19 February 2006

Professor Sir Roy Meadow wins appeal

On 17 February 2006, Professor Sir Roy Meadow won an appeal against the General Medical Council’s decision that he should be struck off the medical register. Professor Meadow had been found guilty of serious professional misconduct for his misleading evidence in the wrongful conviction of Sally Clark, when his incorrect evidence played an important part in the 1999 trial. Professor Meadow also played a key role in other wrongful conviction cases where mothers were accused of killing their babies.

Despite undergoing the full disciplinary procedure conducted by experts at the GMC, a single judge, Mr Justice Collins, has ruled that Professor Meadow was not guilty of serious professional misconduct because “he had acted in good faith”. Justice Collins also said expert witnesses should be “immune” from prosecution or disciplinary action.

This case should be challenged, because if this ruling is allowed to stand it means that any expert witness can give false evidence at trial, either through incompetence or by intent, without fearing any repercussions. Justice Collins’ view makes it impossible to challenge or take action against expert witnesses who claim they are simply giving their “honest” opinion. It seems wrong that expert witnesses should have immunity, or that their evidence should be considered sacrosanct, as such people are still capable of being fallible and wrong as other witnesses at a trial.

The ruling in this case has implications for my own challenge to the testimony of Professor Meirion Francis Lewis, who claims he gave honest opinion at my trial. I can prove that Professor Lewis was wrong on several key points of his evidence, which would have affected the verdict at my trial, but Justice Collins’ ruling seems to mean I and the Professor’s Institute of Physics have no right to challenge him.