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Last Updated: Tuesday, 27 November 2007, 17:44 GMT
Paediatrician 'abused position'
Dr David Southall
Dr Southall has had a controversial career
A controversial paediatrician inappropriately accused a bereaved mother of killing her son, the General Medical Council has found.

The GMC decided Dr David Southall abused his position by accusing the woman of drugging and hanging her son.

It will now decide whether Dr Southall is guilty of serious professional misconduct, and whether to strike him off the medical register.

It will first hear statements in mitigation from Dr Southall's lawyer.

The GMC panel decided that Dr Southall's actions added to the distress of the mother - identified only as Mrs M - whose 10-year-old son hanged himself in 1996.

Dr Southall made the claim in an interview with Mrs M about the safety of her surviving son.

He had been instructed by Shropshire County Council to provide an independent expert report to the court.

After getting advice from Dr Southall, social workers took the younger boy - identified only as Child M2 - into care under an emergency protection order in January 1998.

Panel chairman Dr Jacqueline Mitton told Dr Southall: "Although Mrs M was not your patient your action in accusing her of drugging and murdering Child M1 (her son) by hanging him was inappropriate, added to her distress and was in the circumstances an abuse of your professional position."

Special files

The GMC also ruled that that, in some cases, Dr Southall acted inappropriately in keeping original medical documents on children in his care in his own special case files separately from their official medical records.

Lawyers acting for the Attorney General are now examing thousands of these files amid concerns that they were not revealed during criminal proceedings.

The complex, year-long GMC hearing has considered a range of allegations against Dr Southall.

The paediatrician was already suspended from child protection work.

He was found guilty of serious professional misconduct by the GMC in 2004 over his role in the case of Sally Clark, wrongly jailed over the death of her two sons.

Dr Southall accused Mrs Clark's husband Steve of murdering the two boys on the basis of a television interview.

Dr Southall worked as a consultant paediatrician at London's Royal Brompton Hospital from 1982 before moving to the same post at the North Staffordshire Hospital in Stoke-on-Trent in 1992.

Cases involving Dr David Southall

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23 Jul 07 |  Health

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