Page last updated at 10:19 GMT, Tuesday, 4 May 2010 11:19 UK

Paediatrician David Southall back on medical register

David Southall
David Southall has won the appeal

Paediatrician Dr David Southall is back on the medical register after winning an appeal over a long-running dispute with the General Medical Council.

The Appeal Court's decision means he is able to practise medicine again.

The GMC panel took action to strike Dr Southall off the register in 2007 after he accused a mother of drugging and murdering her 10-year-old son.

The judges found that the GMC had failed to give adequate reasons over claims that Dr Southall had made.

The case has now been sent back to the GMC panel, which will be required to consider it again.

Long-standing dispute

In 2007, the GMC panel said Dr Southall had a "deep-seated attitudinal problem".

It found that his actions had added to the distress of the mother - Mrs M - following the death of her son, who hanged himself in 1996.

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

During previous court appearances Dr Southall had argued that the GMC panel had failed to give "any or adequate weight" to inconsistencies in Mrs M's evidence and that they did not understand what child protection work involved.

Lord Justice Leveson, giving the latest court ruling, said: "I am far from convinced that the public interest is truly served by a rehearing of the limited factual allegation that was made in this case, turning on the precise language used 12 years ago.

"If there is to be a re-hearing, I do not accept that it would be right for it to be conducted before the same panel; fresh minds should be brought to the issue in this case."

Niall Dickson, chief executive of the General Medical Council, said: "Although the case has been remitted back to the original panel, it is clear that the court has overruled the panel's finding in relation to Mrs M.

"We accept that and will take immediate steps to resolve the outstanding issues raised in the judgement. This is a complex judgement and we will need to study the details before making any further comments."

He said the GMC would also convene an expert group to review the guidance for paediatricians involved in child protection to ensure clarity and reassurance about what is expected of them.

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