First challenge to care orders fails

A woman who had her child taken into care after medical experts
gave evidence that her daughter had been the victim of attempted
smothering has failed to win an appeal.

She and another woman are the first of what may be hundreds to
challenge civil court orders to take their children into care,
following the acquittal of Angela Cannings for the murder of her
children in December 2003 amid concerns about the reliability of
evidence given by paediatrician Sir Roy Meadow.

Dame Butler-Sloss, who headed the panel of three civil Court of
Appeal judges, said a retrial was unwarranted and she had taken
into account the views of the council that brought the care
proceedings and counsel for the child who supported the local

A second mother who had her child taken away on the basis of
evidence of a doctor who said he was guided by Meadow will hear
whether her bid has succeeded later.

Her counsel, Stephen Cobb QC, said the doctor had told the High
Court care hearing that he had studied unpublished papers by Meadow
before giving evidence that the mother was suffering from
Munchausen syndrome by proxy.

But counsel for Kent Council said the decision to remove the child
was not taken purely on the basis of medical evidence.

A third woman, Margaret Smith, who was jailed in October 2003,
following Meadow’s evidence at a trial for smothering her
four-month-old son with a pillow in 1994, is waiting to hear
whether her appeal against conviction is successful.

Her appeal follows attorney general Lord Goldsmith’s order to the
Criminal Cases Review Commission to look at 258 criminal cases
involving women convicted of killing their babies over the past 10
years in the light of the quashed convictions of Cannings and
another mother, Sally Clark.

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