Expert evidence on trial

Professor Sir Roy Meadow has been widely criticised for giving
“expert” evidence in court which suggested that children were
victims of murder rather than the cot deaths claimed by their
families. What hasn’t been so well understood is that Meadow’s
evidence in these cases has also resulted in other children being
taken into care.

The professor’s track record inevitably raises the question whether
many of these children should be in care at all. In the case of
Sally Clark, whose two convictions for murder were quashed by the
Court of Appeal, he said that there was a one in 73 million chance
that two cot deaths could have occurred in one family. In the case
of Trupti Patel, who was cleared of murdering her three babies at
Reading Crown Court, he stated that “two cot deaths is suspicious,
three is murder”. His evidence in these cases has been discredited,
both for its statistical inaccuracy and for its failure to take
into account other factors such as inherited genetic

Solicitor general Harriet Harman has rightly decreed that defence
lawyers must be warned about his evidence. But there should also be
a thorough review of the care proceedings in which professor Meadow
has been involved. Otherwise families will have no redress for what
may well have been a gross injustice.

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