Disgraced G20 pathologist faces calls for inquiry

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The Independent Online

There were mounting calls for a full investigation into the controversial pathologist Dr Freddy Patel yesterday, as families claimed he had mishandled post-mortems into the deaths of their loved ones.

The former Home Office expert has been repeatedly questioned about the competence of his autopsies. Last month he was struck off the medical register by the General Medical Council (GMC) for a series of botched post-mortems, including that of newspaper vendor Ian Tomlinson at the G20 protests in April 2009.

Yesterday, several family members interviewed by BBC Radio 4's Today programme called for a public inquiry into his conduct, insisting that post-mortems into their relatives had been mishandled.

They included Hilary Abrey, who remains convinced that Dr Patel mixed up her son's body with another man, and Bill Sweeney, who said the pathologist concluded his son died of natural causes despite evidence of injuries.

The families said that the only way to restore confidence in the pathology system was to review the cases.

Mrs Abrey, whose son Daniel died in 2005, aged 22, is convinced the doctor examined the wrong man. Her son was a slim 6ft 1in, but the report concluded he was 5ft 4in and "well nourished".

At an inquest in 2006, Coroner Andrew Walker said he could not rely on the conclusion that the civil servant had died of a pulmonary oedema and said the cause of death was uncertain.

"I've got a letter from Freddy Patel saying the height discrepancy was down to rigor mortis, but I don't believe that. It's nonsense," Mrs Abrey said yesterday.

"They have ruined my life over it. I will never get over it."

1999 – The pathologist is reprimanded by the GMC for telling reporters Roger Sylvester, 30, who had died in police custody, was a crack cocaine user, something his family denied.

2002 – Police drop a criminal inquiry into the death of Sally White when Patel said she died of a heart attack with no signs of violence, though she was reportedly found naked with clear injuries. Anthony Hardy, a mentally ill alcoholic who lived in the flat in which her body was found later murdered two women. A police investigation into the post-mortem was dropped.

2010 – Mr Patel is suspended for three months for "deficient professional performance" after facing 26 charges relating to four cases. These included Maja Trajkovic, 21. Although she was found partially clothed in bushes, he concluded she had died of opiate poisoning. In the case of five-year-old Annastacia Williams, who died after a fall, Mr Patel was accused of having failed to spot signs of potential abuse.