GMC set to appeal against High Court decision

The General Medical Council has announced today that it is seeking to appeal against the judgement made in the High Court by Mr Justice Collins giving expert witnesses immunity against disciplinary action.

The judgement was made in relation to the successful appeal of paediatrician Professor Roy Meadow against his striking off the medical register. 

Whilst overturning the original decision by the GMC to strike Meadow from the register, Justice Collins concluded that expert witnesses should be immune to disciplinary action unless referred to by trial judge. 

The GMC will appeal against the ruling, as it believes it contains significant implications for the scope and authority of its role in protecting the public interest.  They will not seek to reinstate the original decision to erase Professor Meadow’s name from the register.

Speaking today Finlay Scott, chief executive of the GMC said: “We have decided to apply for permission to appeal against Mr Justice Collins’ judgment. The appeal would primarily be about very important points of law and how the judgment would prevent us from acting in the public interest when a doctor has fallen significantly below acceptable standards.

“We do not believe that the solution lies in extending the principle of immunity, in a wholly novel way, thereby placing doctors and other professionals beyond the reach of their regulator. We do not accept that we should be prevented from acting in the
public interest when we judge that to be necessary.”

In July 2005, Professor Meadow was struck off the medical register by the GMC after finding he gave “misleading” evidence during the Sally Clark case.  Clark was convicted of murdering her two baby sons in 1999, but she was exonerated after an appeal in 2003.

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