[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Monday, 29 November, 2004, 16:20 GMT
Infant death cases under review
Angela Cannings, who was cleared earlier this year of killing her two babies
Angela Cannings' case sparked the Commission's review
Six people convicted of child killing are having their cases investigated by the Criminal Cases Review Commission.

The commission, which investigates miscarriages of justice, was already studying five other infant death cases to see if there were appeal grounds.

Two of those five inquiries have been completed and are awaiting appeal, a Commission spokesman said.

The six new cases are among 28 referred to the commission following a review by the attorney general.

They include the case of Donna Anthony of Yeovil in Somerset, who was given two life sentences in 1998 for killing her babies.

The case against her was built around the evidence of the controversial paediatrician Professor Sir Roy Meadow. An appeal against the conviction was dismissed in 2000.

We need to re-examine the whole law of admissibility of expert evidence
Professor Graham Zellick
Criminal Cases Review Commission
The attorney general's review followed the quashing of the conviction of Angela Cannings in January this year for killing her two children.

That conviction also relied on Sir Roy's evidence.

One of the two cases awaiting appeal is that of Michael Faulder, who was convicted of inflicting grievous bodily harm on his seven-week-old son in April 1999. Sir Roy was not involved in the case.

The other case is not yet in the public domain, the commission spokesman said.

Expert evidence

The commission's chairman, Professor Graham Zellick, said changes were needed in the way courts dealt with expert evidence.

He said: "I would have thought that we have now reached the point where we needed to re-examine the whole law of admissibility of expert evidence from first principles."

He said judges should be allowed to throw experts out of court if they did not think their evidence should be relied on.

He said: "There ought to be some quite straightforward legal framework which would allow the judge to say 'get out of my court, don't come into here with this nonsense'."

Room for doubt

The chairman said such a review would need to go beyond establishing a register of experts who could be relied upon to give evidence in particular fields.

"After all, you could not have an expert more eminent or distinguished than Professor Sir Roy Meadow," he said.

"He was a giant in the field of paediatrics, yet his evidence has caused such problems."

Other issues included experts feeling they needed to give certainty when giving evidence in court whereas in most fields of knowledge there should always be room for doubt and subjective interpretation.




SEE ALSO:
Child death reforms welcomed
06 Sep 04 |  Health
The science behind cot deaths
11 Jun 03 |  Health


RELATED INTERNET LINKS:
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


PRODUCTS AND SERVICES

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East | South Asia
UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature | Technology | Health
Have Your Say | In Pictures | Week at a Glance | Country Profiles | In Depth | Programmes
Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific