In the news: Sir Roy Meadow

June 20, 2003

Sir Roy Meadow, a retired paediatric consultant at St James University Hospital, Leeds and an expert in child protection and welfare, may face investigation by the General Medical Council. A spokeswoman said: "We are aware there are a number of concerns about him and are considering whether there is a case to answer."

Professor Meadow's role in high-profile cot-death cases has come under scrutiny in recent months. He is credited with the so-called Meadow's Law: "Unless proven otherwise, one cot death is a tragedy, two suspicious and three murder."

This maxim is being questioned following the clearing last week of Trupti Patel, accused of suffocating three of her babies. Earlier this year, the court of appeal released Sally Clark, who had been convicted of killing her two babies. Professor Meadow gave evidence in both cases. In the case of Ms Clark, he said the chances of a double cot death in her sort of family were 73 million to one. The appeal court described this as "manifestly wrong".

The murder convictions of at least six mothers are expected to be reviewed after Ms Patel's acquittal, at least two of which relied on Professor Meadow's evidence.

Professor Meadow was a Wigan grammar-school boy who went to Worcester College, Oxford. From 1970 to 1980, he was senior lecturer and consultant paediatrician at Leeds University. He is said to be a powerful witness, able to turn complex material into language juries understand.

While there are concerns about Professor Meadow's work, there are also worries that a backlash against him could see guilty carers getting away with murder. Harvey Marcovitch, a consultant paediatrician and editor of Archives of Disease in Childhood , has defended Professor Meadow's work.

Referring to a nurse who murdered four children in her care and injured nine others, he said: "The Beverly Allitts of this world might not be behind bars but for him."

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