Murder claims doctor guilty of misconduct

A leading paediatrician who accused a father of murdering his sons was today found guilty of serious professional misconduct.

Professor David Southall, 56, accused the husband of cleared solicitor Sally Clark of murdering their children after he watched a television programme about the case.

Today the General Medical Council's professional conduct committee, sitting in Manchester, found the doctor of serious professional misconduct following a two-day hearing.

The tribunal chairman Denis McDevitt told Southall he must not engage in any aspect of child protection work either in or outside the NHS for three years.

Prof Southall, 56, a consultant paediatrician at the University Hospital of North Staffordshire in Stoke accused Steve Clark of killing his sons Christopher and Harry after he watched a Channel Four dispatches documentary on the case on April 27, 2000.

He wrote a report on the family in August 2000 and later said it was "beyond reasonable doubt" that Mr Clark had killed his children.

Mr McDevitt, chairman of the professional conduct committee, told Prof Southall: "Taking into account the facts found proved against you including inappropriate and irresponsible behaviour and an abuse of your professional position, the committee consider your conduct amounts to a serious departure from the standards expected from a registered medical practitioner."

He said the doctor had not taken reasonable steps to verify his statement before he signed the report on the Clarks.

"Your failure to adhere to these principles resulted in substantial stress to Mr Clark and his family at a time when they were most vulnerable and could have resulted in child A being taken back into care unnecessarily and Mr Clark prosecuted as a result of your false allegation.

"The committee are concerned that at no time during these proceedings have you seen fit to withdraw these allegations or to offer any apology."

He continued: "In the circumstances, the committee have concluded that in your own and the public interest it must take action regarding your registration."

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