Investigation into child deaths finds 28 'unsafe' rulings

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The Independent Online

Twenty-eight parents convicted of killing their children after cot deaths or shaken baby syndrome could win substantial compensation after being told by the Attorney General, Lord Goldsmith, that the evidence against them was "unsafe".

The cases have torn families apart. They include one woman who protested her innocence throughout her trial, but changed her plea to guilty at the end of the case to reduce her sentence. She will now have her case reviewed.

One of the women who was imprisoned for killing her child has already told the Attorney General's office that she does not want to rake over the past, and will not be appealing against her sentence.

Ministers said yesterday, however, that parents wrongly convicted could be owed substantial sums in compensation.

In many cases, the parents had their children seized and put into care with foster parents or put up for adoption. Those cases are now going to be reviewed by the local authorities responsible for the care of the children. It is unlikely, however, that the children can be restored to their natural parents.

A total of 297 cases going back more than 10 years were reviewed after the Court of Appeal quashed the convictions of Angela Cannings in December 2003 for killing her two sons. It was found that the specialist medical evidence by the paediatrician Professor Roy Meadow was discredited.

The 28 parents could have their cases looked at again by the Criminal Cases Review Commission or they could go directly to the Court of Appeal. Three of the cases involved sudden infant death syndrome or cot death. The remaining 25 cases were identified because there was sufficient cause for concern to warrant further consideration, Lord Goldsmith said.