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Wednesday, 29 January, 2003, 16:57 GMT
Read your comments
Freed solicitor Sally Clark
Sally Clark maintained her sons died of natural causes
In light of the Sally Clark case, a BBC Two documentary revealed the problems faced by doctors in determining the cause of death in babies. Here are some of your comments on the programme.

At last we have the exposure needed for so long. I personally have campaigned for the last six years to help expose what has been happening in courtrooms of this country and so many more have gone before me. Sally was lucky, in as much her case was public and open to that same scrutiny. For many of the families I help the same is not true. Their cases are conducted in the secret world of the Family Courts, which prevents them from ever publicising details about what is happening. They are gagged forever and the burden of proof is so much less in the civil courts. When there is a finding of guilt against a parent or carer, they find themselves facing a different life sentence - one without the prospect of ever seeing any of their children again and, worse still, a state-imposed childless life.Well done John Sweeney, let's not forget all the others.
Penny Mellor, UK

My brother died of cot death and the thought of accusing and blaming someone for his death is appalling.
Anon, England

As a cot death mother, I was under suspicion from another "expert". I really feel these people should be the ones languishing in jail for the pain and suffering they have caused.
Judy, UK

Having had a narrow encounter with out first son, finding him blue in his cot, we are well aware of how incorrect medical experts can affect cases and verdicts.
Mrs Powers, England

The sooner these cases are revisited in the light of the expert opinion on this very disturbing programme the better. I speak as a scientist - and a very lucky father in that I have two happy healthy children. My heart goes out to these parents.
Andy Large, UK

Cot Death Mothers was a heartrending and shocking programme. It beggars belief that Meadow's submissions to court could have gone unchallenged for so long. One hopes that Mr and Mrs Clark, as well as the others who may have suffered as a result of Meadow's Law, receive some sort of restitution for the suffering they have undergone.
Richard Hopkins, UK

A wonderful programme. I just hope that the people responsible for these errors are made to pay for their mistakes.
Chris Meise, United Kingdom

I am staggered that the laws of this country can allow women who are mourning the loss of their child to have to go through the horror of unlawful imprisonment. I can only, thank god, imagine how their loss must feel. What they need is the love and support of people. My heart goes out to the Clark family and others like them.

I found the cases depicted on your programme very disturbing. Aside from the extremely unscientific basis that these women have been found guilty, I find it amazing that in the 21st century, it continues to be the 'mother' that is seen as the guilty party. Do the courts live in the archaic belief that the father plays no role in their childs care? It is also unimaginble to think that a couple's child can be taken from them and adopted on the evidence of one expert.
Barbara Tombs, England

I wish Sally and Stephen Clark all the very best for life with their surviving son, and feel so dreadful for what they have been through. I am a mother and a practising nurse and am horrified by the testimony of Roy Meadows. Give all the people who featured on your programme my best wishes. I cannot begin to imagine what they are going through but my thoughts and prayers are with them.
Deirdre Westwood, UK

I have just watched the documentary and compliment you on this excellent piece. I am very disturbed by what I have seen. I was a Nurse Consultant and am now training to be a lawyer and I cannot believe that medical evidence is not subjected to greater scrutiny - not even to the level of peer review that is required for publication.
P. Johnston, UK

I am absolutely astounded that it appears that not a single person has made any connection between cot death and vaccination. Anyone who doubts the possibilities of any connection should read the book by Viera Schriebner: ¿Vaccination: 100 years of research". It shows vaccination to be an assault on the immune system. She is a research scientist who gathered over 20,000 papers from medical journals to investigate cot death, and came up with a stunning conclusion. Look at the case of Angela Cannings: Has no-one recognised that her babies died at 8, 12 and 16 weeks when jabs are given?
Penny McMillan, UK

This is not the first time that severe reservations have arisen about the quality of testimony given by a prosecution expert witness, and again after such testimony has been instrumental in obtaining unsatisfactory convictions. Scientists wishing to publish in major scientific journals have to have their papers peer reviewed before publication. It is clear that some sort of peer review is necessary before the courts should admit the opinions of experts acting for either defence or prosecution. Some sort of qualification based on independent peer review should be required before someone can act as an expert witness. Following each case, the opinions expressed by an expert witness should again be peer reviewed and if found wanting should lead to automatic referral of the case to the appeal court.It is time being an expert witness stopped being a nice little earner for "experts" past their sell-by date.
Richard Barrett, UK

Who can tell what has happened to these poor babies? No-one will ever know. Some women are under such great stress after the arrival of a new baby that they are completely unaware of their actions and have no memory of harming their child. If there is a supposed genetic link to cot death, have any investigations ever taken place when a child has been removed from its natural family? Do babies die of cot death when in the care of foster or adoptive parents? There are more questions than answers, and unfortunately, in my opinion, your programme achieved very little.
D Graham, UK

The Sally Clark case highlights the need for law reform on cot deaths and the law on murder. It is a horrendous miscarriage of justice and people should endeavour to stop it happening again and to right wrongs.
Sophie Jupp, UK

Good Luck to Sally and her family. I hope she can rebuild her life and make up for lost time with her son. My heart goes out to all the other families being unjustly punished after their babies have died.
Kathy Spicer, England

Congratulations on an excellent programme publicising these cases. It shows the error in relying on only one expert.
David Buckler, England

I had a dear friend who suffered the loss of one child from S.I.D. That was over 40 years ago. She will never forget that episode of her life, but for people who have had this tragedy twice in their lives must be absolutely devastating. My heart goes out to them all.
Marian, England

Has anybody investigated the possibility of a link between vaccination (e.g. DTP, Polio etc.) and these cot deaths? Surely a baby with very low levels of IgG who is unable to fight off infection would be seriously at risk from vaccination? Is it more than coincidence that the peak rate of cot death is also the time babies are receiving the three doses of the DTP, Polio etc. vaccines? Research in America has already linked the DTP vaccine to cot death and Polio, for example, is a live vaccine which causes paralysis. What if the lungs were paralysed? Surely this is worth investigating.
Morag Davidson, Scotland

What a frightening prospect that a life and a family can be destroyed by one man's opinion. Even more intolerable is the prosecution's drive to get a conviction, knowing that evidence possibly leading to the truth was being ignored or simply excluded. Whatever happened to the search for the "truth". In the meantime, the destruction of families go on. What a travesty of justice...
Bruce, UK

The programme confirms a problem which I experienced in over 25 years in the legal profession - attaching proper weight to expert evidence. I am a barrister who practised for many years in defending alleged computer criminals. I am also an engineer and a computer expert (a pioneer in this field). One of the problems I found over the years was that in the computer industry there are no real experts because the technology is too new. We jokingly said: "If it works then it's obsolete." It has become like that in medicine with the extraordinary advances in science. Today it is impossible to be an expert about everything, yet the medical profession do not appear to have properly sub-divided their skills into contemporary areas of knowledge for the purposes of giving evidence in the courtroom. Medical experts volunteer (or are persuaded) to testify on topics which are outside of what should today be a narrow specialization, given the amount of new knowledge that is appearing. Lawyers do not know all the sub-divisions of medicine and are not aware of when an expert is moving outside of his field. They consequently give the same weight to all his testimony when in fact different parts of the testimony should be given different weight.
Alistair Kelman, UK

My brother died of meningitis at 10 months and it seems we are very lucky we weren't investigated, even though the doctors knew what was wrong with him. This is madness. In answer to Professor Meadows' statement to the BBC, I do realise that most child abuse is caused by parents or carers. But that does not mean that a parent who has suffered a huge tragedy is guilty of murder. I feel for the famillies in the film and, if you can, send them my best wishes for the future.
Ceri Jones, England

So how can we help the other mothers who may have been wrongly convicted? It seems that certain so-called evidence cannot be relied upon. If it took Sally Clark's family so long, given all their expertise, to resolve this case, what hope is there for others who do not have the same resources?
Lindsay Davies, UK

I am appalled and extremely angry after watching this programme tonight. There appears to have been not one but possibly very many miscarriages of justice in cases where the evidence has been given by Professor Meadow. This man has no idea of the agony suffered by parents who lose a child. To be even suspected of murdering that child on "unreliable evidence" is a horrendous concept and suggests that far too many people whose job it is to uphold our law are quite simply not doing just that. No, we have not progressed beyond the witchhunts of the 16th century.
Sue Underwood, England

I would just like to say that as a mother of three children, all of which have different levels of medical needs, ranging from severe to chronic, that thanks to the like of experts like Sir Roy Meadow ............... THERE FOR THE GRACE OF GOD GO I.... and also that doctors like him make me wary to be a mum! How good is that for my children?!
Biv, England

Professor Meadow's methods must be investigated in light of what has happened.
Elizabeth Strand, England

The program was very enlightening in the new information it brought to the subject. It built on the previous good work done on the Sally Clark case - but exposed other serious cases that clearly appear, if that is possible, to be even greater miscarriages of justice. Sally Clark was clearly innocent and we should all wish her and her husband all the best for the the future. However, the final couple in the programme seem to have had their baby taken away from them - and adopted. This has all the hallmarks of yet another tragic case of a 'mistake' with no remedy, even if innocence could be proven. Clearly this matter needs further investigation and I would encourage the BBC to actively pursue that case - and all of 'Meadows Law' cases as a matter of serious public concern.
Stewart Duncan, Britain

See also:

29 Jan 03 | England
28 Jan 03 | England
02 Jul 02 | England
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