Southall should not be struck off register, judge rules

Paediatrician David Southall should not be struck off the
medical register for accusing the husband of Sally Clark of killing
their children, a High Court judge ruled last week,
writes Amy Taylor.

Mr Justice Collins said the General Medical Council’s
ruling which bans Southall’s involvement in child protection
work for three years, imposed after it found him guilty of serious
professional misconduct, was a “severe indeed” sanction
and would “produce a sufficient deterrent effect”.

Despite this Collins said that the condition was “unduly
lenient” and should be tightened up.

Southall accused Steve Clark of killing his sons, Christopher
and Harry, after he watched a television documentary about the case
in April 2000. Sally Clark was convicted of murdering her two
babies in 1999 but was cleared at the Court of Appeal in 2003.

Southall, who worked at the University of North Staffordshire,
Stoke-on-Trent, was called to stand before the Professional Conduct
Committee of the GMC after making the accusations.

Last August, it found him guilty of serious professional
misconduct but the Council for Healthcare Regulatory Excellence
(CHRE), an independent watchdog set up to ensure proper regulation
of the medical professions, challenged the punishment in the High
Court arguing that it was not harsh enough.

After the ruling Julie Stone, deputy director of the CHRE, said
she welcomed the ruling. “CHRE’s view was that original
conditions on Professor Southall failed to protect the public

“The judge agreed and has today confirmed the need to
strengthen the constraints on Professor Southall’s practice
in relation to child protection cases.”


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