CPS considers investigation into baby murder trials

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The Independent Online

The Crown Prosecution Service acknowledged for the first time last night that the evidence of medical experts during the trials of Sally Clark and Trupti Patel may have been flawed.

The CPS said it was considering whether to hold "in-depth" reviews into past cases involving the two expert witnesses, Professor Sir Roy Meadow and Dr Alan Williams.

Prosecutors have been asked to identify any future cases in which they may be involved and alert the defence to the comments made about them as witnesses at Sally Clark's Court of Appeal hearing earlier this year.

Both Dr Williams, a pathologist, and Sir Roy, a former preident of the British Paediatric Association, have been criticised for their evidence during the 1999 trial of Mrs Clark, who was jailed for allegedly killing her two young sons. When she was cleared at an appeal hearing in January this year, Dr Williams was criticised for failing to disclose information.

The same hearing also heard that Sir Roy, a paediatrician, had told the trial that two cot deaths in one family were a "1 in 73 million chance", a fact which was disputed by the Royal Statistical Society.

Sir Roy went on to give evidence during the trial of Mrs Patel, who was charged with murdering her three children. He described it as "very unusual" to have three unexplained deaths in one family. Mrs Patel was acquitted earlier this month.

The CPS's announcement marked the first sign of its recognition that the evidence given by the two medical witnesses may have been flawed. The CPS said in a statement: "Interim guidance has been issued by the CPS to its prosecutors. It aims to clarify facts that emerged in the Sally Clark case and the effects that this judgment would have regarding disclosure in other cases involving Dr Williams and Professor Meadow.

"Prosecutors were asked to familiarise themselves with the Sally Clark judgment and their attention to be drawn to the specific paragraph where the Court of Appeal made comments regarding Dr William and Professor Meadow."

It added: "Chief prosecutors have been asked to identify existing cases involving these experts and notify the defence of the judgment in the case. Regarding past cases, the CPS is in discussion with other agencies ... This will identify whether there is a need for an in-depth review of past cases and if so the extent of that review."

The CPS announcement coincided with Mrs Patel describing for the first time her grief at the loss of her children since she was found not guilty of their murder after a six-week trial. "We feel we have started our grieving process and we have key dates, birthdays and anniversaries that tend to be very poignant," she told Channel 4 News. "Mia [the last child to die] has been a very different story and I still feel that grief will come out in years to come and on a slower process."

During the interview, Mrs Patel, 35, from Maidenhead, Berkshire, described the humiliation and trauma of her arrest before vowing never to have another child: "I wouldn't. No. Because of what having lost three children has meant, I think the finger would be out again," said Mrs Patel, who has one surviving child. "We wouldn't want to have a child just for somebody to decide that child is at risk and should be removed."