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Last Updated: Tuesday, 4 December 2007, 16:40 GMT
David Southall struck off by GMC
Dr David Southall
Dr Southall has had a controversial career
Controversial paediatrician Dr David Southall has been found guilty of serious professional misconduct and struck off the medical register.

The General Medical Council decided last week that he had abused his position by accusing a mother of drugging and murdering her son.

The GMC said Dr Southall had a "deep-seated attitudinal problem".

It is the second time in three years Dr Southall has been found guilty of serious professional misconduct.

There are now two instances were without justification you have accused a parent of murdering their child
Dr Jacqueline Mitton
General Medical Council

The GMC found that Dr Southall's actions added to the distress of the mother - Mandy Morris, from Shropshire - whose 10-year-old son Lee hanged himself in 1996.

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

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

Special files

The GMC also ruled 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.

It is a great shame for David Southall personally, and a huge deterrent for paediatricians in Britian to get involved in this kind of work
Dr Paul Davis
Consultant paediatrician

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

In 2004 Dr Southall was suspended from child protection work 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 Jacqueline Mitton, chair of the GMC disciplinary panel, told Dr Southall: "Your multiple failings over an extended period caused the panel great concern.

"Furthermore, the panel is influenced by the fact that although the events in the current case predate those in the Clark case there are now two instances were without justification you have accused a parent of murdering their child.

"In all the circumstances the panel has concluded that you have deep seated attitudinal problems and that your misconduct is so serious that it is fundamentally incompatible with your continuing to be a registered medical practitioner."

In a statement issued after the hearing, Dr Southall admitted he had taken "difficult and sometimes unpopular decisions" in his career.

But he added: "The welfare of the children has always been paramount in my mind."

Supporters

Dr Paul Davis, a consultant paediatrician in Cardiff, said Dr Southall had been a great pioneer in helping identify mothers who hurt their babies, and, as a result, had become the target of a hate campaign.

He said: "It is a great shame for David Southall personally, and a huge deterrent for paediatricians in Britian to get involved in this kind of work."

The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health expressed sadness and disappointment at the ruling.

President Dr Patricia Hamilton said "David Southall has made a major contribution to child health both nationally and internationally and has been a strong advocate for children during a distinguished career."

And Dr Evan Harris, MP called the ruling "disproportionate" and a "serious miscarriage of justice".

But John Batt, lawyer to the Clarks, said: "This has got to be the right decision.

"Paediatricians fulfil an absolutely vital role in child protection, but a minority of them have been making false allegations against innocent mothers for many years.

"It is about time the medical establishment stopped defending these people."

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.

The Staffordshire trust said it would now review Dr Southall's position. Trusts are not allowed to employ doctors without the appropriate professional registration.

In a statement it said Dr Southall's competence as a general paediatrician had not given cause for concern.

He has 28 days to appeal against the GMC decision.



VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
Background on Dr David Southall



SEE ALSO
Profile: Dr David Southall
04 Dec 07 |  Health
'Why was my file kept secret?'
04 Dec 07 |  Health
Paediatrician 'abused position'
27 Nov 07 |  Health
Paediatrician's ban is extended
23 Jul 07 |  Health

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