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Legal "perfect storm" building for medical profession and social workers - Hemming writes to Attorney General; refers North Staffs hospital to informa

In the context of a "perfect storm" of a number of court and GMC cases campaigning MP John Hemming has written to the Attorney General raising the question of medical expert witnesses who have a conflict of interest providing evidence. He is also referring the University Hospital of North Staffordshire to the Information Commissioner.

John Hemming said, "there are some very important issues going through the courts at the moment. Many of these are, in fact, interlinked. Most of the people working in Social Services have good intentions, but there have been large numbers of appalling miscarriages of justice where families have been destroyed for no good reason.

"There are a number of cases going through the courts at the moment that will reopen the question as to whether the government has simply covered up the failure of the system. Margaret Hodge's review of Munchausen's Syndrome by Proxy only found one case which was found to be in error. However, the main proponents of the MSbP thesis and the thesis itself still face numerous challenges in court."

"The secrecy of the family courts has allowed much of this to happen. False allegations have been made by a small number of paediatricians and social workers. These have simply been taken at face value. It is much like the working of the Witchfinder General of Essex Matthew Hopkins who made a very good living in the 1600 falsely accusing women of being witches. Some hundreds were executed. The same process today has resulted in the destruction of large numbers of families and effective life sentences for innocent mothers. Professionals should not be allowed to hide false evidence behind the secrecy of the family courts."

One of the cases involves allegations of Salt Poisoning.
http://icwales.icnetwork.co.uk/0100news/0200wales/tm_headline=mother-denies-killing-baby-with-salt&method=full&objectid=17913926&siteid=50082-name_page.html
A 15 month old child died in hospital and his mother is being prosecuted for poisoning him with salt. John Hemming MP said, "this case is one of many where a baby dies and the mother is blamed, but the evidence for that is provided by the clinicians who would otherwise be responsible for the child. This is a sad situation and we are wrong as society to always look for someone to blame. Yes, if there is a positive act determined to end the life of the child then action should be taken. However, there is a clear conflict of interest when the people responsible for the health of the child are giving expert opinion to be taken as fact. The outcome of this case will be interesting. It correlates with a number of other alleged Salt Poisonings."

A second case relates to the GMC and Roy Meadow
http://www.guardian.co.uk/uklatest/story/0,,-6171779,00.html
John Hemming MP said, "here we have a very similar issue one relating to medical expert witness evidence. There has to be some ability to control the quality of medical opinion offered as evidence. Many women were prosecuted on the basis of "Meadow's law". Meadow's law was shown to be statistically flawed mumbo jumbo. It should not be the case that there can be no constraints on expert evidence that is basically rubbish."

A third case relates to allegations of MSbP in Scotland.
http://news.scotsman.com/scotland.cfm?id=1584202006
John Hemming MP said, "although this case relates to Scots law it is exactly the same issues as the other cases. The outcome of this case will have a bearing on issues in england."

A fourth case is in the English Family courts and has not been reported on.

A fifth case relates to the quasi-judicial proceedings against Professor David Southall
http://bmj.bmjjournals.com/cgi/content/full/333/7573/822-a?ehom
John Hemming MP said, "this GMC hearing which relates to the holding of secret medical research files by Professor Southall is also interlinked. Professor Southall was one of the key expert witnesses who provided medical opinion that destroyed families."

"There remain thousands of files that the patients are unaware of. I am referring the University Hospital of North Staffordshire to the Information Commissioner for their failure to act to tell people that these files exist."

ENDS


Notes for Editors
The following Early Day Motions relating to these issues have been tabled

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EDM 2768 WORK OF PROFESSOR DAVID SOUTHALL (No. 2) 17.10.2006
That this House notes that over a large number of years Professor Southall has performed risky, interventionist, non-therapeutic, experiments on babies and young children that have been demonstrated to have caused medical difficulties for some of the babies and young children; further notes that project E5 involved over sedating babies, misleading parents as to the discomfort and risk faced by their babies and giving carbon monoxide to babies with respiratory problems; further notes that this has been reported to the General Medical Council; and calls for the General Medical Council to explain why no action has been taken.
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EDM 2767 WORK OF PROFESSOR DAVID SOUTHALL 17.10.2006

That this House notes that according to the report written by Professor David Hull for North Staffordshire Trust about the work of Professor David Southall in the report written for the University Hospital of North Staffordshire by Professor McLeish and Dr Durbin, Professor McLeish said that Professor Southall `pursued multiple clinical research studies that were poorly designed and therefore were unlikely to produce new knowledge of worth. More worryingly he appears to have had insufficient regard for the ethical standards that should surround all clinical studies in babies'; believes that such comments are important comments that require proper consideration; is surprised that the University Hospital of North Staffordshire is unable to find a copy of this report; calls for the hospital to find a copy of this report and publish its contents; and further calls for an independent judicial or Parliamentary inquiry into the research and clinical activities of Professor David Southall, the failure of the regulatory system to prevent unethical experiments on babies managed by Professor Southall and the misuse of child protection and judicial procedures both to prevent parents from raising complaints about his research and procure children for his research.

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EDM 2688 INDUCED ILLNESS IN CHILDREN 10.10.2006

That this House notes that guidance from the Department for Education and Skills, entitled Safeguarding Children in Whom Illness is Induced or Fabricated by Carers with Parenting Responsibilities, says that `when a "possible" explanation for the signs and symptoms of illness is that "they may have been fabricated or induced by a carer", and as a consequence the "child's health or development is or is likely to be impaired", a referral should be made to the social services department'; further notes that the effect of the above is to require parents alleged to have induced illness in their children to prove their innocence, rather than to require those accusing parents of inducing illness in their children to prove the guilt of parents; and calls for a review of this guidance.
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EDM 2679 TAKING CHILDREN INTO CARE 09.10.2006

That this House notes that taking fewer children into care would facilitate the provision for better services for those who have been taken into care; further notes that many children have been taken into care in error in the past; further notes that there is a conflict of interest between social services acting as a supportive service and social services acting as an enforcement-based service; and calls for the Secretary of State for the Department of Education and Skills to review the option of taking the enforcement role out of social services and into a specialist agency.

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EDM 2678 PROFESSOR DAVID SOUTHALL'S RESEARCH CASE FILES 09.10.2006

That this House notes that Professor David Southall has maintained Special Case files including details of research he has managed on many thousands of babies over a number of years; further notes that it is the view of the Chief Medical Officer that copies of such information should be given to the patients who range throughout England and Wales from Birmingham, through Barnsley to Banbury and Bristol; regrets that the University Hospital of North Staffordshire National Health Service Trust has not as yet done so; and calls for the UHNS Trust to act to rectify this situation.

Comments

john said…
There is one error in the above in that it is McNeish not McLeish, but under the 1688 Bill of Rights Article 9 I need to quote precisely.

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