Actions taken by paediatrician David Southall that resulted in
him being banned from child protection work for three years serve
as reminder of the importance of evidence-based practice, according
to the president of the Association of Directors of Social
Services, writes Sally Gillen.
Andrew Cozens has urged child protection social workers not to
be demoralised by the case, in which Southall contacted police with
concerns that the husband of Sally Clark had murdered their babies
after watching a television documentary on the case.
Cozens said: “Feedback from judges is that social workers
is that that they tend to have very good evidence but they do not
tend to assert themselves in court in the way doctors
Southall was found guilty of professional misconduct at a
General Medical Council hearing in Manchester last week.
He told police he believed Stephen Clark had killed his sons
Christopher and Harry after watching a television documentary on
the case of Sally Clark, who was jailed for the deaths in November
1999 but cleared in December 2003.
He later wrote a report for solicitors on the case without
speaking to the family, accessing case papers, or examining X-rays
or other medical reports.
Another seven complaints against Southall are being dealt with
by the General Medical Council and are expected to be heard in
At the hearing in Manchester, tribunal chair Denis McDevitt
said: “As a potential expert witness, you had a duty to list
in your report the limitations of either the method you used come
to your conclusion or the result.”