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2003: Solicitor cleared of killing sons
Solicitor Sally Clark has been cleared by the Court of Appeal of murdering her two sons after serving more than three years of a life sentence.

Three judges decided Sally Clark's conviction for murdering her two baby sons in 1999 was unsafe.

The 38-year-old from Wilmslow in Cheshire has protested her innocence ever since she was jailed for life at Chester Crown Court.

She was convicted of smothering 11-week-old Christopher in December 1996 and shaking eight-week-old Harry to death in January 1998 at the home she shared with her husband Stephen.

This is not a victory. We are not victorious. There are no winners here
Sally Clark

Mrs Clark emerged from the cells at 1540GMT and was hugged and kissed by her husband, who has stood by her throughout the ordeal. She has one surviving son, now aged four.

She said: "This is not a victory. We are not victorious. There are no winners here.

"We have all lost out. We simply feel relief that our nightmare is finally at an end."

She went on to thank the public for their support, her legal team and friends and family.

Her conviction hinged on evidence given to the original trial by eminent paediatrician Professor Sir Roy Meadow.

He estimated the likelihood of two infants from the same family dying of cot death syndrome was one in 73 million.

But the Royal Statistical Society took the unprecedented step of writing to the Lord Chancellor to object to the way the statistic had been calculated saying it was inaccurate.

However, an initial appeal in October 2000 was thrown out on the basis there was overwhelming evidence she had killed both boys.

Her second appeal was won after new medical evidence was presented to the court.

It showed her son Harry had suffered from a brain infection which could have led to his sudden death. Although this evidence was known to the prosecution pathologist, Alan Williams, at the time of the original trial, he did not disclose the information.

Mrs Clark was suspended from the Roll of Solicitors in 2001 after her murder conviction. Her husband is also a solicitor.

Sally Clark's successful appeal has brought hope for another mother convicted of murdering her two infant sons. Angela Cannings has been fighting to clear her name since she was jailed by Winchester Crown Court in April 2002.

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Sally Clark and husband Stephen
Sally Clark served three years of a life sentence before being cleared of murder


In Context
Sally Clark was told in February 2003 she could practise law again after her murder conviction was quashed.

Her case led to a call for a review of procedures for evidence given by so-called expert witnesses.

Professor Sir Roy Meadow - an expert in child abuse - coined the phrase, "unless proven otherwise, one cot death is a tragedy, two is suspicious and three is murder".

Sir Roy also gave evidence as an expert witness in the trials of two other women, Angela Cannings and Donna Anthony, who were both freed on appeal after being convicted of murdering their children.

Following Anglea Canning's release in 2003, the Attorney General announced a general inquiry into all criminal cases involving cot deaths and particularly those where expert evidence was relied upon.

In July 2005 Sir Roy was struck off by the General Medical Council for giving "misleading" evidence in the Sally Clark case - although Mrs Clark was actually freed after it became apparent that another witness at her trial, pathologist Alan Williams, had failed to disclose key medical evidence.

In February 2006 the High Court overturned the GMC decision to strike him off the medical register and the ruling that he was guilty of serious professional misconduct.

Sally Clark was found dead at her home in March 2007. She had died accidentally as a result of acute alcohol intoxication. Her solicitor said she had "never fully recovered" from the affects of the appalling miscarriage of justice.

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