Panorama and the William Ward Case
The William Ward case was an exceptional case in a number of ways. However, Panorama have really missed the key points.
Most mothers facing a case like this one would not only have lost their son to adoption, but also lost subsequent children.
Firstly, they were allowed to have the grandparents supervising. That is rare.
Secondly, they were allowed a second medical opinion. That also is rare.
What would normally have happened would have been that baby William would have been put with foster carers and limited contact (perhaps three times a week if they were lucky) would have been the option.
What needs to be looked at in respect of this case is, however, more complex than presented in the programme.
Firstly, we should not attack experts who offer opinion merely because the judge does not agree with it. Experts have to offer their viewpoint.
Where the real problem lies is in the interface between medical opinion and legal certainty. Medical opinion is often not that certain. There must be proper review of all medical evidence to enable it to be tested for truth.
The issue of spiral and metaphyseal fractures and similarly the SBS triad absent physical damage are areas where there is not sufficient certainty to warrant life changing decisions.
We also need to do a systemic risk review for how cases are managed. The criminal law remains a good deterrent. There comes a point at which additional supervision does not reduce the risk. These are the issues that often cause substantial problems and a misallocation of resource.
Furthermore the medical profession have to move away from the assumption that unexplained injuries equate to child abuse. It may be child abuse and it may be something else.
Finally the conflict of interest on experts with pet theories who can make massive incomes by hawking them around in the secret family courts has to be recognised. If only expenses were paid then there would be less of a conflict of interest.
It was good to have a further review of procedures in the family courts, but the programme was some way off recognising how bad the system can really be or identifying real solutions.
There are quiet a few comments
on the BBC website about this story.