Hodge launches review of expert witness role in child abuse cases

    Children’s minister Margaret Hodge has announced an
    inquiry into the use of medical expert witnesses within child abuse
    cases in family courts, writes Shirley
    Kumar
    .

    Chief medical officer (CMO) Sir Liam Donaldson will carry out the
    inquiry following recent appeals against convictions of mothers
    alleged to have been responsible for killing their children.

    The results of a one month survey carried out by the Association of
    Directors of Social Services (ADSS) into 5,175 live cases handled
    by 130 councils revealed 47 cases in need of review.

    The impact on nine cases were already known and in a further 38
    cases, proceedings are not advanced enough to be clear of disputed
    medical evidence.

    Hodge said: “The results of this initial survey should not
    give rise to complacency that the interests of children and their
    families are being optimally served.”

    The Department for Education and Skills (DfES) is carrying out a
    full three month review of around 30,000 cases, with the results
    expected shortly.

    The ADSS has predicted that no more than 200 cases of children
    taken into care on the basis of disputed evidence will come under
    review.

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