Since the Sir Roy Meadow controversy, the work of child protection
professionals has been made more difficult than ever. One of the
mothers at the centre of the Meadow affair was Sally Clark, cleared
in January 2003 of killing two of her three sons. Her case has now
had a knock-on effect on the career of Meadow’s colleague,
consultant paediatrician David Southall. After watching a
television documentary on the Clark case, Southall told police he
was convinced Clark’s husband, Stephen, had killed their two sons.
His theory was backed by Meadow, although he did not disclose this.
To form such an opinion without interviewing either parent and
without seeing any medical records, laboratory investigations or
post-mortem records displays arrogance of truly breathtaking
The General Medical Council called his actions “inappropriate,
irresponsible, misleading” and is investigating a further seven
complaints against him. Some have questioned why he remains on the
One effect appears to be that the public at large is more likely
than ever to believe that child protection professionals have got
it in for parents. Meanwhile, staff working in the field are
becoming too frightened to report suspicions in case of
repercussions. Others are leaving the job. The consequence of
actions by some members of the medical establishment is that more,
not fewer, children will be put at risk of abuse.