Richard Horton, Editor of The Lancet, outlines why Meadow should be cleared of misconduct and that legal not medical error took place during the trial of Sally Clark. He states that the case against Meadow is not only unjust but threatens the effective delivery of child protection services in Britain. Horton argues that the General Medical Council (GMC) is not the place to arbitrate the complex aspects of medicine's intersection with the law. Meadow's referral to the GMC should never have taken place, he states. He calls on the government to urgently create a Royal Commission to investigate and make recommendations concerning the use of experts by the courts.
Horton comments: "On the available evidence presented at the original trial and at two subsequent appeals, it is clear that Meadow should not be found guilty of serious professional misconductInstead of concentrating on the actions of one individual, who inevitably becomes a public symbol - and scapegoat - for the weaknesses of an entire system, a broader approach to learning lessons from the unsafe convictions arrived at in Sally Clark's case is needed. The activities of the police, pathologists, lawyers, judges, expert witnesses, and juries need to be considered all together.
"The causes of death of Sally Clark's two sons remain unascertained. The GMC cannot be the place to arbitrate on such complex and contingent aspects of medicine's intersection with the law. Instead, the fair and appropriate way forward is to find ways to improve a judicial system where facts are gathered and presented, opinions are sought and tested, and judgments are arrived at. That process might best be achieved by the kind of rigorous investigation offered through the work of a Royal Commission. Irrespective of the outcome, the government sho
Contact: Joe Santangelo