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Some relief for expert witnesses
  1. H Marcovitch
  1. Correspondence to:
    H Marcovitch
    Honeysuckle House, Balscote, Banbury OX15 6JW, UK; h.marcovitch{at}

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Appeal of Professor Sir Roy Meadow against the GMC finding him guilty of professional misconduct

On 26 October 2006, the Court of Appeal for England and Wales handed down its judgement on the General Medical Council’s appeal from the decision of Mr Justice Collins, who, in the High Court of Justice in London in February 2006, had allowed the appeal of Professor Sir Roy Meadow against the finding of the General Medical Council (GMC) that he had been guilty of serious professional misconduct (SPM). Mr Justice Collins had quashed the finding and the direction to erase Sir Roy’s name from the medical register.1

By a majority of 2 to 1 (Sir Anthony Clarke dissenting), the appeal court found that Professor Meadow had not been guilty of serious professional misconduct and, that even had that been the case, the Court “could not contemplate erasure as an appropriate penalty for [his] uncharacteristic honest errors in ths difficult case;” Lord Justice Thorpe, commenting on the GMC sanction, added: “If it had been necessary to mark his conduct with a finding of SPM, I would have considered that, after his long and distinguished service to the profession and the public and given his age, that finding would have been enough.”2

A GMC Fitness to Practice Panel (FPP) had come to its decision in July 2005, following an inquiry which was limited to charges regarding alleged failure in erroneously applying statistical data when giving evidence as an expert witness.3 This was in respect of a murder trial wherein Professor Meadow quoted the chance of two siblings in a low-risk family dying from sudden infant death syndrome as 1 in 73 million, a statistic he took from a draft copy of a report by the Confidential Enquiry into Sudden Death in Infancy, 1999. …

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  • Competing interests: HM is an associate of the GMC, and sits on and chairs Fitness to Practice Panels. The views expressed in this article are his own and do not represent the views of the GMC.

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