Page last updated at 17:08 GMT, Wednesday, 17 June 2009 18:08 UK

Verdict on 'arrogant' pathologist

Dr Michael Heath
Dr Michael Heath carried out examinations for high-profile cases

A former Home Office pathologist who admitted he was "incredibly arrogant" in wrongly asserting two women were murdered can continue to practise.

Dr Michael Heath resigned three years ago after strong criticism of his work following the deaths of two women.

A General Medical Council (GMC) hearing found him guilty of serious misconduct, although it found his fitness to practise was not impaired.

Dr Heath performed hundreds of examinations for high-profile cases.

Bungled examinations

These included an examination on the body of Stuart Lubbock, who was found dead in a swimming pool at the Essex home of television presenter Michael Barrymore in 2001.

A government disciplinary panel in 2006 found that Dr Heath bungled post-mortem examinations on Mary Anne Moore and Jacqueline Tindsley, leading to their partners being tried for murder.

He refused to back down on his view that the two women had been murdered, despite mounting evidence to the contrary.

Earlier in the GMC hearing, Dr Heath said: "At no stage did I seek help. I just carried on going in an arrogant way and that was wrong."

He admitted that his work on both post-mortem examinations was not of a standard expected of a medical practitioner and was liable to bring the profession into disrepute.

Dr Heath told the hearing that he now confined his work to post-mortem examinations for inquests.

The GMC found his fitness to practise was not impaired, as the likelihood of his misconduct being repeated was "extremely low".

Dr Heath examined Miss Tindsley, 55, whose body was found in her bed at home in Lowestoft, Suffolk, in March 2002.

Her partner, Stephen Puaca, was jailed at Norwich Crown Court for her murder following Dr Heath's evidence that she was asphyxiated.

Mr Puaca's conviction was quashed by the Court of Appeal after other pathologists' evidence that Miss Tindsley died from an epileptic seizure.



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