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EDITIONS
Wednesday, 29 January, 2003, 19:20 GMT
Supporters welcome Clark decision
Sally and Stephen Clark
Reaction has been swift to Sally Clark's release
Cheshire solicitor Sally Clark has been cleared of murdering her two baby sons by the Court of Appeal.

The 38-year-old had always protested her innocence and her case had received backing from her friends, family and cot death campaign groups.

BBC News Online looks at the reaction to the appeal judges' decision that she had not received a fair trial and her conviction was unsafe.


Mrs Clark's solicitor Mike Mackey told the BBC she was "still in a state of shock - but grateful for the court's decision".

He added: "Ever since the information was discovered I have been convinced we would win the appeal.

"Nothing has been said in the Court of Appeal today that could not have been said six months ago.

Knowing this appeal was coming up with new evidence, the term used was 'cautiously optimistic'

Sally Clark's friend Jeannie Whatmough
"The jury were not given all the information.

"It may well be that with the correct information these 12 members of the jury, who were obviously struggling to do the right thing, would have reached the right conclusion all that time ago.

"There is a huge number of these prosecutions going through the courts - often based not on medical fact but on medical theory."


Peter McVeigh a former neighbour of the Clarks in Wilmslow, said he was "totally delighted".

He described Mrs Clark as "a very nice neighbour and a very nice lady".

He added: "I am pleased that the end result has been what it should have been in the first place, and they can get on with their lives as they should do."


Mrs Clark's friend Jeannie Whatmough said: "To say that I'm overjoyed is an understatement.

"We've worked really hard ever since Sally was convicted to try and get this turned round and make her innocence known to everybody.

The figure of the chances of all sudden infant deaths being one in 73 million has been discredited by all sorts of people

Sarah Kenyon, Foundation for the Study of Infant Deaths
"Sally and I have been writing constantly all the time she has been in prison.

"There have been times when she has hoped that things would move and she would be out.

"And then they seemed to be dashed again and again and even now, knowing this appeal was coming up with new evidence, the term used was 'cautiously optimistic'.

"Nobody dared hope that it would go wrong again, but it had gone wrong so many times before that it always seemed a possibility that something would happen again and it would be dashed, so she must be thrilled."


Sarah Kenyon of the Foundation for the Study of Infant Deaths, said: "It is always devastating whenever a baby dies.

"To have two die is very tragic and we are campaigning for better professional response to all sudden infant deaths to make sure everyone gets a thorough investigation.

"The figure of the chances of all sudden infant deaths being one in 73 million has been discredited by all sorts of people, statisticians and doctors.

"We hear about one such case every year, so it is rare but it does happen."


Dr David Drucker an expert in microbiology, was part of the Manchester University team which discovered a genetic link among cases of sudden infant death syndrome.

He said: "I'm very, very pleased. I felt from the beginning that the verdict was a suspect one.

We will not stand in the way of Mrs Clark resuming her career as a solicitor

The Law Society
"I was very concerned when I read in the media about how some of the statistical evidence had been presented.

"I've been contacted since the Sally Clark case by families who have specific examples of two babies being lost in the same family.

"It just isn't as rare as the jury were led to believe."


The Law Society said Mrs Clark would be free to resume her career as a solicitor.

In an unprecedented decision she had been suspended rather than struck off by the Solicitor's Disciplinary Tribunal in 2001, despite being convicted of murder.

A spokesman said: "The ball is in Mrs Clark's court and we don't know what her intentions may be.

"But we will not stand in the way of Mrs Clark resuming her career as a solicitor."


Cheshire Police and the Crown Prosecution Service said it had been unaware at the time of Mrs Clark's trial of the evidence which ultimately led to her release.

In a joint statement they said: "This is a case in which the police investigation and the prosecution relied almost exclusively on the expert findings and the expert interpretation of those findings.

"This second appeal has been prompted by the discovery of microbiology results for the second child of which the police and prosecution had been unaware."

The statement added it was now impossible to carry out further tests to examine whether the bacterial infection had led to Harry Clark's death.

It said this and the extensive publicity around the case meant it was impossible to have a further retrial.

See also:

28 Jan 03 | England
29 Jan 03 | England
Links to more England stories are at the foot of the page.


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