Controversial doctor's court cases to be reviewed

LONDON Tue Feb 20, 2007 12:41pm GMT

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LONDON (Reuters) - The Attorney General said on Tuesday he would review court cases which had involved paediatrician Professor David Southall who wrongly accused a father of infanticide.

Lord Goldsmith said he would examine all the cases where Southall had appeared as a witness for the prosecution over concerns he might have kept 4,450 "special" files on children which were not properly stored on hospital records.

Southall rose to prominence after he accused Stephen Clark of killing his two babies after watching a television interview with Clark following his wife's 1999 conviction for the murders.

Southall's claims appeared in evidence at a family court charged with deciding who should look after a third Clark child.

Sally Clark's conviction was later quashed after evidence showed the children died naturally.

London's High Court ruled in 2005 that he should be allowed to stay on the medical register, under strict conditions, but the General Medical Council is currently conducting a hearing into the professor's conduct.

Part of this inquiry relates to claims that he kept separate files on some patients, including a number which might have been involved in criminal trials where proper disclosure of records might not have been made, the Attorney General said.

"It is said that Professor Southall kept so-called 'special case' files containing original medical records relating to his patients that were not also kept on the child's proper hospital file," Goldsmith said.

"Concerns have been raised that in some of those cases criminal proceedings may have been taken but the existence of the files not revealed, resulting in their not being disclosed as part of the prosecution process. I share those concerns."

He said the review, which would go back 10 years, would assess whether any of these "special" files existed in cases which had gone to court.

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