Doctors and other professionals writing reports for courts or giving expert testimony will be immune from disciplinary action after a landmark High Court ruling last week.
The ruling came in the case of Professor Sir Roy Meadow, who won his court battle to overturn the General Medical Council’s decision to strike him off for giving mistaken evidence on sudden infant death.
The judge ruled that all witnesses giving evidence in good faith, even if their testimony is wrong, must be protected from disciplinary action, so they are not deterred from coming forward.
The General Medical Council said the ruling meant that doctors and professionals would be “beyond the reach” of their regulators even when their evidence had been criticised by the courts. It said the only exception would be if judges complained to the regulator.
Professor Alan Craft, president of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, welcomed the ruling. “If the original decision had stood there is a real danger that doctors across all specialities would have become reluctant to undertake vital expert witness work,” he said.