Transcript of the File on Four programme
FILE ON 4
REPORTER: JOHN SWEENEY
PRODUCER: ANDY DENWOOD
John Sweeney: There is, perhaps, no crime more terrible than a mother
killing her baby.
But what if the child died a natural cot death - and the mother is
charged with a murder that didn't actually happen?
This week the case against Sally Clark the Cheshire solicitor serving
life for murdering her two baby boys was sent back to the court of
appeal following the revelation of new evidence not heard by the jury.
Tonight, on File On Four, we ask the question, when mothers are accused
of harming or killing their children, do expert witnesses have too much
Mark Haynes: my little girl she's gone forever, my daughter has been
legally kidnapped by the state and there is nothing I can do about it
and all for the words of one man (sniff).
Steve Clark: I'm daring to hope that this time we will get justice for
my wife. We have discovered new medical evidence, which wasn't disclosed
to the defence at the time of the trial, which appears to reveal a
natural cause of death for one of our babies.
John Sweeney: Steve Clark has stood by his wife, Sally, thick and thin.
Convicted after a jury was told that the chances of her babies dying
naturally was '73 million to one', Sally Clark was pilloried by the
This was the headline in the Daily Mail:
Actor Playing Daily Mail: 'Driven by drink and despair, the solicitor
who killed her babies.'
John Sweeney: Sally Clark is in jail, for life, for murdering babies
Christopher and then baby Harry. Steve, like his wife a solicitor, has
believed in her innocence throughout. And now he says he's found the
evidence to prove it.
Steve Clark: We were badgering Macclesfield Hospital for months and
months and months for the children's medical records which hadn't been
properly disclosed to us, and when we finally, finally got the papers at
the end of last year, hidden away amongst those papers was a report
which had not been disclosed to the defence at the time of trial. And
the scary thing is that it could still be there and no one would know.
John Sweeney: Steve Clark had unearthed a laboratory report
commissioned by Home Office pathologist Dr Alan Williams - one of a
small group of expert witnesses whose prosecution evidence secured his
When he first spotted the report on the second child to die, Baby Harry,
he did not immediately appreciate its significance.
Steve Clark: My initial reaction, not being a doctor was 'what on earth
is this?' I don't really understand it?' So I showed it to one of the
doctors who's been helping us behind the scenes. And he almost shouted
Eureka. This is a test, which reveals a potential natural cause of death
for the baby.
Are we talking about just one test, something that he ...might have
Well it was a formal request to one of the laboratories at Macclesfield
Hospital to carry out tests on blood and tissue samples, and a formal
report was produced within a few days of the post mortem.
The tests were carried out by Dr Williams the pathologist, he
commissioned the report in any event, the report was found in his files
at Macclesfield Hospital.
John Sweeney: The prosecution did not disclose the key findings of the
lab report pointing to a potentially fatal infection in Baby Harry.
The bacterial infection was staphylococcal aureus and found in eight
parts of the body, including the spinal fluid. The test also indicated
that the infection had been active while Harry was alive. Two leading
pathologists have seen the results, and both have said the Staph A
infection was the most likely cause of death. One, Professor James
Morris, consultant pathologist at the Royal Lancaster Infirmary, added:
'no other cause of death is sustainable.'
And yet, throughout the trial, the jury remained in the dark about this
compelling evidence of Sally Clark's innocence.
This week the criminal case review commission, the statutory body set up
to re-examine potential miscarriages of justice is sending the case to
the court of appeal. Sally Clark has spent two and a half years in
prison for a crime which on the face of the Staff A injection never
Steve Clark: Emotionally she's hanging on by her fingernails at the
moment. It's two and a half years now since she was convicted and been
in prison it takes its toll. But it's now an agony of waiting. And then
a question of seeing how long it takes the system to put right this
There are all sorts of tragedies arising out of this case. Sally has
lost her liberty, we lost our house, our cars, all our v hard-earned
savings, we have lost two children we have not been able to grieve for
properly, who I had to bury on my own...but more importantly there is a
little boy in all of this - the surviving child who has been deprived of
his mother in the early formative years of his life.
John Sweeney: The Crown's star witness was Professor Sir Roy Meadow,
first President of the Royal College of Paediatrics, the author of the
ABC of Child Abuse and first identifier of Munchhausen Syndrome By Proxy
- where mothers harm or kill their babies while passing the abuse off as
He is so eminent an expert witness he lectures judges on how to
interpret medical evidence.
Everyone agrees that some mothers do kill their babies. But no one is
Sir Roy told the Sally Clark jury that there was a '73 million to one'
chance of both babies dying naturally. The jury convicted 10-2
John Sweeney: After a number of statistical experts condemned '73
million to one' Sir Roy conceded that he had made a mistake - but not a
He told a newspaper:
Actors voice: I did not explain the limited significance and I regret I
didn't. But in court, it was not a defining moment.
John Sweeney: Sir Roy's whole approach is summarised by what some call
Meadow's Law -
Actor playing Meadow: That unless proven otherwise, one cot death is a
tragedy, two is suspicious and three is murder.
John Sweeney: It's a rule of thumb, promulgated by Sir Roy in a paper
on cot deaths, for doctors, police, social workers, even judges. And
Sally Clark is not the only mother who continues to plead her innocence
who was put behind bars with the help of Sir Roy and Meadow's Law.
ACT of Terry with photos of babies: When Gemma died she was, I believe
14 weeks, Jason, unfortunately only had eight weeks and Matthew I think
again was a bit longer than Gemma perhaps 15 weeks so that's a tragedy
of the three pictures that I look at that between them all there's less
than six months life.
John Sweeney: Terry Cannings, the husband of Angela Cannings.
According to Meadow's Law, unless proven otherwise, three cot deaths is
The couple, from Salisbury had already had two cot deaths. And then
there was a third
Terry Cannings: Matthew was pronounced dead on the 12th of November
1999 approximately I think it was about 11.30, quarter to twelve and a
very good doctor of a friend of mine that that's dealt with all my
children just quietly whispered in my ear he just said, Terry this is
the third expect...his words were "expect crap now".
And then we had a police officer say that we just needed to take
Angela's statement on the following day cos she hadn't given a statement
up to this point and at 10 o clock they they arrived at the door and
said Detective Sergeant Rob Finley, he just sort of knelt on his knee
held Angela's hand and he said 'I'm sorry but I've got to arrest you on
the suspicion of three deaths Gemma, Jason and Matthew'. And Angela
then was that was like she was shot in the kneecaps. That hit her then
and they just took her away
John Sweeney: Angela Cannings was sentenced to life imprisonment for
murder this April by a judge at Winchester Crown Court.
One of the Crown's witnesses who told the jury that the deaths were not
natural was Professor Sir Roy Meadow. Angela Cannings continues to
protest her innocence.
Others cannot understand how she came to be convicted.
Dr David Drucker is a microbiologist at the University of Manchester and
in the forefront of new genetic research into cot deaths.
A colleague at Manchester performed tests on the last child to die
Matthew, which showed that the baby's immune system wasn't working. The
baby was defenceless to attack from infection.
Dr Drucker: That baby had so little antibodies of an entire class of
antibody that it was almost below the limit of detection of the tests
that we're being used. And I remember commenting at the time if I'd had
so little antibody I would expect to be dead or very seriously ill.
The jury obviously heard that evidence and I was...I wasn't a jury member
so I I I don't know what went through their heads but I don't know how
they could ignore a finding that to my mind at least was so important.
John Sweeney: File on four has discovered that, the same killer bug,
staph A, who two pathologists believed killed baby Harry Clark was also
detected in two out of three of Angela Cannings babies.
Her solicitor, Bill Bache, believes that the new developments in the
Sally Clark case have a direct bearing on the safety of Angela Cannings'
BILL BACHE: The first child, Gemma, who died, was found on post-mortem,
to have a fairly substantial staphylococcal aureus infection, that
particular organism is associated with cot death. Now when we progress
to Jason one of the things that was noted when he was admitted to
hospital was that he had a sticky umbilical stump and that was found to
have staphylococcal aureus infection and it was treated with a powder.
The third child to have died, Matthew, as I understand it the blood
samples that were intended to be used to ascertain whether there were
any such infections as staphylococcal aureus or COLYFORMS or that kind
of thing were mislaid
John Sweeney: In plain English, if two out of three of Angela Cannings
babies died from this particular infection, and the third one we don't
know about, because the blood samples were lost where does it leave the
finding of murder
Bill Bache: It does, I would have thought produce an entirely feasible
cause of death for the children, which quite obviously is natural and
John Sweeney: Are you appealing?
Bill Bache: Yes
John Sweeney: Angela Cannings was, according to friends and family, a
loving mother, and there was no obvious motive as to why she would kill
But, at the trial, the defence failed to counter the common sense
prejudice driving Meadow's Law, that the more 'cot deaths' a mother
suffers, the more likely it is that she is a murderer.
But, at the University of Manchester, Dr David Drucker and his team have
discovered a natural explanation for multiple cot death - they've
identified a cot death gene.
In layman's terms, the cot death gene is a faulty switch - it fails to
switch on the baby's defence system against killer bugs. There is a gap
between the mother's defence system fading out as the baby grows to
around eight weeks old and the baby's own defences kicking in. And it's
through that gap that a bug or infections like Staph. A can strike, says
Dr Drucker: We know from our own research that the baby...that babies with
a particular form of a gene called IL10 are several times more likely to
become cot death babies than other babies would.
John Sweeney: What does IL10 mean, what's it stand for?
Dr Drucker: IL10 is one of a series of cyto kinds, cyto kinds are
substances we make in our bodies that that help us deal with infection.
If a baby is a low IL10 producer and the ones who if you like the cot
death gene are in that category what happens in practise is when there
very young babies they are slower to develop immunity and when they do
develop immunity its not as strong if you like as other babies, so for
two reasons for two biological reasons we understand there are more at
risk of challenge by bacteria which have been associated with cot
John Sweeney: The cot death gene, being genetic, runs in families -
Not so, says Professor Meadow. He declined to be interviewed by this
programme, but he has stated:
Meadow played by actor's voice: There is no evidence that cot deaths run
in families, but there is plenty of evidence that child abuse does.
John Sweeney: If cot deaths don't run in families, there is no such
thing as a cot death gene.
Either Professor Meadow or Dr Drucker is just plain wrong.
Dr Drucker's data is open to critical attack; his experiments can be
checked and tested.
The same cannot be said of Professor Meadow's raw data - 81 cases that
informed his outlook. The 81 cases, first described as 'cot deaths',
were later established to be unnatural - effectively, murders.
Sir Roy has admitted that he has had his raw data shredded.
The Crown Prosecution Service confirmed:
Actor Playing CPS: it now seems that most of the raw material on which
Sir Roy's paper was based has been destroyed.
John Sweeney: The shredding took place six months before the jury trial
in the Sally Clarke case and long before the Angela Cannings case.
Unless proven otherwise, Sir Roy's assertion that there is no evidence
that cot deaths runs in families is wrong.
Jean Golding is Professor of Epidemiology at the University of Bristol.
She was called as a prosecution witness at the trial of Angela Cannings.
But her reading of the pre-trial evidence swung her to the defence.
In court she savaged Sir Roy's methodology, because his 81 cases had no
Jean Golding: I called it stamp collecting. In terms of you pick out
the cases that you want to present and then you present them. It was
never a, a way of doing proper scientific research.
The approach that an epidemiologist would take for example is to look at
all the evidence, and then draw conclusions and the conclusions you draw
are based on comparing what's happening say in a group of families where
there've been two sudden infant deaths with families where there haven't
and looking to see what the differences might beHe hasn't done that.
John Sweeney: This is a distinguished scientist, and a knight?
Jean Golding: I would say he is a distinguished paediatrician, I would
never say he was a distinguished scientist, he doesn't use the
scientific rigour that I would respect
John Sweeney: In a case of a woman, charged with murdering her babies,
is Professor Meadow's a reliable witness?
Jean Golding: No, because I think he comes to any case with the prior
belief, if you believe that somebody has murdered a baby there is no way
in which you can prove she hasn't. If she is alone in the house with a
baby and the baby has died, there's no evidence that the pathologist can
give, there's no evidence she can produce that proves that she hasn't
done it and therefore it's very easy to throw that suspicion
John Sweeney: The fundamental problem remains .A mother who has suffered
a cot death can't explain why her baby died. The prosecution can -
murder. None of this helps Terry Cannings explain to his surviving
daughter where her mother is.
Terry Cannings: She's not questioned me so far how longs mummy going to
be in that big building for and she constantly asks me, oh if she does
it once a day she does it ten times a day, given time, she says, "What
will mummy be doing now?" and I just tell her all the good things about
what she's doing and keep it that way. I almost, I suppose, wrongly or
rightly, I suppose I paint it to her as a mini Butlins.
John Sweeney: Angela Cannings is on Rule 43, segregated from other
prisoners for her own protection.
In the last thirty years the whole approach to the protection of
children has changed. Concern about child abuse has led the courts to
adopt 'the paramouncy of the child' - but some fear the pendulum has
swung too far that way, making it almost impossible for mothers to
defend themselves in the criminal courts.
At least a murder case is open to press and public.
In the Family Courts, judges sit in private, away from media scrutiny,
weighing whether social services can take a child away from its parents
for its own protection.
Professor Meadow has also had a big impact in the closed world of the
Family Courts - though one, thus far, that has never been made public.
We have taken a close look at two Family Court cases where Professor
Meadow has given evidence against mothers he believed harmed or even
killed their babies.
All the names have been changed.
Will Carter: (Describes what went wrong with baby.): We got up as normal
that day. We were all sat in the front room. The TV was on, Jane was
wandering around quite happily, she then just walked across the room
diagonally towards the backdoor and just fell over. But it was very odd
because there was no reaction to save herself; she just went literally
flat on her face
John Sweeney: Will Carter describing the day their baby collapsed. Will
and his wife Michelle
- rushed 16-month-old to hospital.
Mercifully, the baby - Jane - recovered, though doctors said it had been
a close run thing.
She had suffered a heart attack and a stroke.
Social services in London, where the family lives, were concerned and
considered taking the baby into care. A report was commissioned from
Will Carter: He actually came over when you actually spoke to him as
quite a nice and affable guy. He was very softly spoken and I did say to
Michelle after he had gone, I said I think we'll be alright with this
one he seemed a good guy and he will put in the report as things are.
What a shock it was when the report actually came out. I just couldn't
believe he had done it.
John Sweeney: Sir Roy's report - and his subsequent testimony in court -
pointed squarely at Michelle Carter. He concluded that she had, in the
balance of probability, poisoned her baby. Noting the family's general
poor state of health and frequent trips to the doctor, he diagnosed her
as suffering from Munchhausen Syndrome By Proxy - the condition he first
defined, also known as 'Meadow's Syndrome', where mothers harm or kill
their children and pass off the abuse as natural illness.
The critical question Sir Roy addressed is why did Jane have a heart
attack? Although blood and urine samples were lost, trace elements of a
drug, imipramine, were found in one test. Jane's older sister, then 12,
was taking imipramine for bed-wetting.
Because the samples had been lost, it was impossible to establish the
true number of tablets Jane had taken - or been given.
Working backwards from the severity of the attack, Sir Roy estimated the
dose at between six and 12 imipramine tablets.
Read: It is inconceivable that [Jane], at the age of 18 months could
have poisoned herself with even six imipramine tablets...In order for
[Jane] to have ingested the Imipramine tablets ... considerable
determination and dexterity was needed on the part of a determined
John Sweeney: Did you do it; did you poison your child?
Michelle Carter: Definitely not, I would never harm any of them. Not any
of them at all, I love them all too much, I just think that it was a
pure accident which she found on herself I don't believe any one gave it
to them, whether it be an adult or a child and I just think it's one of
the unfortunate accidents that should never had happened, at the end of
the day he's accusing me of trying to murder my own child and there is
no way on this earth that I would ever do that. I actually went into
Wandsworth Police Station and I said to the guy behind the desk I said
arrest me, so he said why? I said because I have been accused of
attempted murder of my youngest daughter and I want it looked into.
They called CID down, and all the guys could do was laugh.
John Sweeney: The police did not charge Michelle Carter with attempted
And in the Family court both she and her husband were supported by their
But the Judge agreed with Professor Meadow's testimony and all four
children were taken into care.
Their flat, once full of noise, is now quiet.
Convinced of Michelle's innocence, Will Carter went on the Internet and
discovered evidence, which challenged Prof. Meadow's toxicological
Will Carter: If Prof. Meadow is correct that it was six, and he even
goes further to say it could be anything up to 12, then it would be more
likely that it would be a poisoning but on the basis of the information
that I have unearthed from the internet it makes it more likely that it
was an accident and one that tablet had been picked up and caused the
effects that he then described in great detail.
Prof. Meadow [s] states that it must have been six tablets that she had
ingested to cause the heart attack that she had, yet the research I've
unearthed quite clearly shows that it is one sixth of that -- that just
one tablet could have the same effect
John Sweeney: You're an unemployed barman, and you are accusing a
professor of getting his sums wrong?
Will Carter: Yes, because I have got the supporting evidence, in black
and white, to prove what I'm saying is correct,
John Sweeney: And Professor Meadow?
Will Carter: He has produced, thus far, no evidence to approve the basis
of his ascertains and I would quite cheerfully invite him to do so if
indeed he can.
John Sweeney: We asked Sir Roy to discuss his understanding of
toxicology, but he declined.
'File on Four' took 'Will Carter's' discovery on the Internet along to a
Dr Vivian Howard is a toxico-pathologist, at the University of
What dosage of imipramine would be needed to cause a heart attack in a
Dr Howard: Well, if I can refer to the Paediatric Emergency Medicine
Textbook fourth edition by Fleischer and Ludwig they address this
problem. Imipramine: they reckon one to two tablets are a potentially
fatal dose, through seizures or arrhythmia, which is an abnormality of
the heartbeat. So it's clearly a toxic substance for infants and one
would expect to see worrying or dangerous signs at an ingestion of about
one or two tablets.
John Sweeney: Professor Meadow has said the child needed to have taken
six tablets for they're to have been a heart attack. Was he right?
Dr Howard: That's higher than I would expect for a toddler of this age.
That is not what the literature says and not what I understand from the
toxicology of this drug. I would think a lower dose is enough to cause
serious and potentially fatal effects.
John Sweeney: That is the evidence that the father in this case who is
an unemployed barman found. If you were going to side with Professor
Meadow or the unemployed barman who would you side with?
Dr Howard: I would side with the weight of the evidence in the
literature, which I have cited to you which in this case seems to be
what the unemployed barman has found.
John Sweeney: If Dr Howard - an expert in toxicology - is correct then
just one tablet could have been enough to cause baby Jane's heart attack
and stroke. And that would make the Carters' explanation of accidental
poisoning plausible, and not, as Professor Meadow asserted,
Although he says he has made a particular study of children involved in
non-accidental poisoning Professor Meadow is not a toxicologist. Mr
Justice Wall, a Family Court Judge at the High Court in London, has
recently written a handbook for expert witnesses. As a judge, he could
not discuss individual cases. But, as a general rule, he insisted that
witnesses must not stray outside their area of expertise.
Mr Justice Wall: The expert's reliability and integrity is crucial to
the whole system. And if you have a rogue witness who takes you on a
wild goose chase, you waste not only a lot of money, you waste a huge
amount of time and time is a precious commodity in children's cases.
It is very very important that experts stick to the area of their
expertise, and I am very critical of experts who stray outside the ambit
of their expertise and try and give me opinions on matters which are not
their province. If a case requires a toxicological opinion you get a
toxicologist, and most decent experts, most responsible professional
experts will say to you 'I'm very sorry I can't give you an opinion on
this, you must go to someone else and I will defer to that particular
branch of expertise, and that is what should happen
John Sweeney: Would it concern you that we have found a particular case
where a paediatrician has expressed a toxicological opinion without
Mr Justice Wall: In principle it would concern me, but I would want to
know who the paediatrician was, what the opinion was, what the facts of
the case were and whether or not, objectively speaking, the
paediatrician was able to justify, professionally in terms of expertise
giving an opinion on a toxicological issue...
John Sweeney: None of these concerns are academic for the Carters. Where
are your children now?
Michelle Carter: All 4 of my children are in care.
John Sweeney: D'you know where they are?
Michelle Carter: I know where two of them are but I don't know where the
younger two are.
John Sweeney: When did you last see them?
Michelle Carter: The two younger ones it was Feb 1st two years ago and
my other two I saw on the 14th of May. I don't know if they remember me
or me and my husband. They haven't let the children see each other for
that time as well...it's just been very, very hard. (sob)
John Sweeney: Family Courts are supposed to be less confrontational than
criminal courts - but because they take place behind closed doors, there
are concerns about the that lack of peer criticism of expert evidence.
Sometimes only one expert will be consulted.
The standard of proof is lower and the court puts the child first -
doubts about safety of a child may over-ride the presumption of a
Professor Peter Fleming, University of Bristol, is a world expert on cot
Professor Peter Fleming: One of my concerns about the family courts is
that sometimes information is given in those closed courts which may not
stand up to the fullest scrutiny, in other words people giving their
opinion to the best of their ability may not actually be the most
knowledgeable people in their field and because of the closed nature of
the courts, that information of course, isn't scrutinised by those who
might perhaps have a better grasp of the particular minute area of
physiology, or bio chemistry that's been talked about. On some
occasions, I'm sure very well intentioned clinicians who are giving
evidence are pushed into giving opinions on areas that maybe are outside
their area of major expertise, maybe just along side rather than forming
a central part of their expertise and sometimes because the rate of
development in these fields is so rapid sometimes what that leads to is
potentially significant information been overlooked or missed and not
taken into account
John Sweeney: Sir Roy Meadow has said that it is important for experts
to meet families before tendering their advice.
In the Carter case, he did just that.
But not so in every case.
Karen Haynes: the first time I saw him, was in court, just before he
gave evidence, and I asked my solicitor, Is that Professor Sir Roy
Meadow and her comment to me is yes I think it is. Before that I didn't
even know him.
John Sweeney: But by that time, the report accusing you of smothering
Karen Haynes: Yes he had
John Sweeney: Karen and Mark Haynes, not their real names, were
delighted when Michael was born. They had tried hard for a child and
they say loved him very much. Then on two separate occasions Michael
just stopped breathing. Apnoea to the doctors. When the baby had a third
attack he was rushed straight to intensive care
Mark Haynes: There were drips everywhere, there were drugs going into
him, he was been monitored and the nurses were confident., they felt
that he was making a recovery, in fact they decided to sedate him
because they were afraid that he was going to pull the leads that were
attached to his hands with drips and so that shows that he was a lot
more lively than when he was admitted to hospital and so because we were
confident that he was getting better, my wife and I left and we came
John Sweeney: Later that same evening, when Karen and Mark were at home
Michael's condition suddenly grew worse. Two days later his life
support machine was switched off. There were disturbing features to
Michael's death. The baby had a whole in the heart. Michael had been
treated with the drug Cisapride, now banned after being linked to a
series of infant deaths. The coroner found difribulator marks on the
baby's chest, evidence of a heart attack, though at the time of death,
the Haynes say, they were not told about that. The hospital has lost
critical medical notes around this time. Still mourning their son they
decided to try for another child. Social Services were concerned for the
safety of the yet to be born child. A report was commissioned from
Professor Sir Roy Meadow, Sir Roy's view was, that Karen had, on the
balance of probability smothered Michael. On the question of the unborn
child he stated,
Actor playing Meadow: "In general there appears to be a one in two
chance of similar or serious abuse occurring to a sibling of a child who
has been smothered.
John Sweeney: Another statistic, the case went to the family court, the
experts were divided. The majority thought that Michael had died a
natural death but the precise cause was unknown. Sir Roy said the baby
had died because of the delayed effect of smothering. But he had a
problem., the baby had got better in intensive care. Nursing staff
recorded his improvement by regularly noting his response to stimuli and
logging them according to a system called the Modified Glasgow Coma
Score. The score gives a numerical mark between 3 and 15. Michael had
a good score 14 out of 15 at the time Karen left the hospital. So how
could Karen, by then at home have killed the baby if he was improving.
At first, Professor Meadow was at a loss, he stated,
Actor playing Meadow:'14 is near normal, and it does not fit in with
the other observations, it is discrepant and I cannot explain it"
John Sweeney: The next day when asked about the score he could explain
Actor playing Meadow: I'm not sure what she means by the Modified
Glasgow Coma Scale, I am unfamiliar with using the scale on young
children and it was certainly not the practice in our hospital"
John Sweeney:- St James, Leeds.
Actor playing Meadow read: it sounds like a system that they have found
helpful rather than an internationally or indeed a scientifically
ACT: This is Charlie, hello Charlie!
(Mother) He's frightened now
?What's the matter Mum?
We've been away on holiday and we think he's been bit by mosquitoes and
he's got allergic reaction on his arms.
John Sweeney: Dr Lorcan Duane (pr DWORN) is a consultant in emergency
paediatric medicine at Manchester Children's Hospitals.
How much do you personally rely as a child doctor on the Modified
Glasgow Coma Score?
Dr Lorcan Duane: I would say in a child who comes in in an unconscious
state we rely upon it 100% as an assessment of their coma level.
John Sweeney: And you have confidence in it?
Dr Lorcan Duane: Yes I definitely have confidence in it // it's a
John Sweeney: Would you be surprised to hear that one particular
paediatrician does not use the score?
Dr Lorcan Duane: I would find it hard to actually comprehend it is a
standard working tool in most paediatric emergency departments and most
paediatric wards where they will be observing patients who have a
decreased coma score. For example, children after fits, children after
head injuries etc etc.
John Sweeney: Have you (in your experience) ever worked in a
children's' hospital where they don't use the modified score?
Dr Lorcan Duane: Er no. It's standard throughout.
John Sweeney: The Modified Glasgow Coma Score is the standard test in
children's wards in Britain and around the world and has been used at
Sir Roy's old hospital, St James's, in Leeds since 1996.
What Professor Sir Roy Meadow told the court was completely wrong.
The trial judge, Mrs Justice Bracewell, preferred the evidence of Sir
Roy that baby 'Michael' had been smothered.
When Karen's second baby, 'Emma' was born, they took it away at 25
Karen has never seen her daughter, on her own, since.
This week, Karen and Mark Haynes learnt that Emma's adoption has been
The couple are trying to adjust to the fact that by law, they may never
see their little girl again.
Mark Haynes: In this bedroom we have all the momentos of our daughter
and our son. We have dresses that she wore, we have photographs, we have
videos, we have her favourite toy... still squeaks. We have even got
drawings that she actually did for us.
John Sweeney: When did you last see your daughter?
Mark Haynes: The end of September 2001.
John Sweeney: So that's six or eight months ago?
Mark Haynes: That's correct my little girl should be with me, she's
gone forever, my daughter has been legally kidnapped by the state and
there's nothing I can do about it and all for the words of one man
John Sweeney: After writing several letters to Professor Sir Roy Meadow
inviting him to appear on this programme and receiving no reply, 'File
on Four' set out to give him one last opportunity to answer our
We've come here to rural Yorkshire to Professor Meadow's home to put to
him some of our concerns about the evidence he's given in these four
cases. Let's hope he's in.
Oh well, that was a dead loss, Professor Meadow did come to the door but
he made it clear he doesn't want to take part in this programme. We've
posted a letter, another letter through his letterbox setting out our
concerns and hopefully he'll get back to us.
Unless proven otherwise, Professor Sir Roy Meadow cannot be relied upon
in the fields of statistics, genetics, toxicology and his own,
But the scandal we have revealed in the British legal system is greater
The system appears to be pre-loaded against mothers who lose their
babies - and in danger of reversing the presumption of innocence - both
in the criminal courts and, perhaps even more so, in the closed world of
the Family Courts.
The cases we have investigated raise grave concerns about the influence
of some expert witnesses when mothers are on trial.
Now the Sally Clark case in on its way back to the Court of Appeal.
Other mothers may follow her.
If she succeeds, then those experts who seemed so certain of their guilt
have questions of their own to answer.
Site last modified Wed Oct 12 09:58:06 BST 2011