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Last Updated: Saturday, 20 May 2006, 09:07 GMT 10:07 UK
Minister intervenes over Meadow
Professor Sir Roy Meadow
Sir Roy was initially struck off the medical register
The Attorney General is hoping to take part in an appeal arising from the case of paediatrician Sir Roy Meadow.

The General Medical Council struck Sir Roy off the medical register after he gave mistaken evidence at a 1999 trial.

The High Court reversed the ruling, saying doctors could not be barred for making mistakes as expert witnesses.

Lord Goldsmith has asked for permission to support the GMC's right to take disciplinary action in such cases, saying it is in the public interest.

The hearing will not affect Sir Roy's position but will focus on the GMC's ability to consider similar cases in future.

People need to know that when experts go into court, they're there to help the court
Lord Goldsmith

"I don't think in principle the judge is right to say the person who decides whether or not somebody has broken their own professional code is the judge," Lord Goldsmith told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

"It must be, I believe, for the regulating bodies in the final analysis to decide whether somebody has broken that code".

Professional boundaries

Prof Meadow gave evidence at the trial of Sally Clark, who was arrested in 1998 after the deaths of her two sons, Christopher and Harry.

He told a Chester Crown Court jury there was a "one in 73 million" chance of two children dying from cot deaths in an affluent family.

Mrs Clark's conviction was later quashed in the Court of Appeal on grounds unrelated to Professor Meadow's evidence.

In February Lord Goldsmith ordered a review of all infant death convictions since 1994, including 88 involving allegations of shaken baby syndrome.

Lord Goldsmith told the BBC: "People need to know that when experts go into court, they're there to help the court and that if they exceed proper professional boundaries they may be subject to disciplinary action by their professional bodies."

After February's ruling on the GMC's action Lord Goldsmith said he believed the decision was "wrong in principle" but that he was "not taking sides over whether Prof Meadow was or was not guilty of serious professional misconduct".

The High Court hearing before Mr Justice Collins ruled not only was the GMC unjustified in making a finding of serious professional misconduct last summer, it had no right to pursue the complaint in the first place.

The judge said expert witnesses who give evidence to courts must be immune from any disciplinary action - save in exceptional circumstances - so that they are not deterred from coming forward.

He said it was "quite unnecessary" to erase from the medical register someone like Prof Meadow who he described as a first-class paediatrician to whom many families owed much over his dealing with their children.

Experts buoyed by Meadow ruling
18 Feb 06 |  Health
'Disappointed and disheartened'
17 Feb 06 |  Health
Profile: Sir Roy Meadow
15 Jul 05 |  Health

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