Cot deaths expert accused of disliking women

The medical expert involved in recent miscarriage of justice cases involving cot deaths was accused yesterday of disliking women and making wrong assumptions about their criminal behaviour.

Professor Sir Roy Meadow, the retired paediatrician whose work is now the subject of a series of investigations, was strongly criticised by Angela Cannings - one of the women wrongly jailed for killing her children on the basis of his evidence - and by Gillian Paterson, his first wife.

Mrs Cannings, 40, from Wiltshire, who had her life sentence overturned by the Court of Appeal in December, said she had been "permanently scarred" by her experience. Of Sir Roy, she said: "I listened to him give his evidence. I was looking at a man who was assuming that something criminal had happened."

Interviewed by ITN, Mrs Cannings criticised Sir Roy for giving his evidence without meeting her family. "I couldn't accept that he had never come to talk about the events and yet he was making all these assumptions that something criminal was going on."

Ms Paterson, a writer on medical issues, was reported yesterday as saying that her former husband might have "a serious problem" with women. She was quoted as saying: "I don't think he likes women." She also suggested that Sir Roy had been over-anxious to diagnose mothers as having Munchausen's syndrome by proxy - where women attract attention to themselves by injuring their children.

She reportedly said: "I wish somebody could have said to him, 'Roy, they're not everywhere.' I wish somebody could have stopped him."