Ban on Clark case expert ‘sufficient’

Eminent 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.

Mr Justice Collins said that a ban outlawing Southall’s involvement
in child protection work for three years would “produce a
sufficient deterrent effect” – although the conditions of the ban
needed to be tightened up. The ban was imposed by the General
Medical Council after it found him guilty of serious professional

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 the two boys in
1999 but was cleared at the Court of Appeal in 2003.

Southall, who worked at the University of North Staffordshire in
Stoke, was called 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, CHRE deputy director Julie Stone said she
welcomed the ruling. “CHRE’s view was that original conditions on
Professor Southall failed to protect the public adequately. 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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