Six women to have verdicts reviewed

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The Independent Online

The murder convictions of at least six mothers are expected to be reviewed after yesterday's sudden acquittal of Trupti Patel.

At least two of the cases likely to be reviewed relied on evidence from Sir Roy Meadow, a pathologist who also gave expert testimony in Mrs Patel's trial. Sir Roy is a leading advocate of what some have called "Meadow's Law" ­ that "one cot death is a tragedy, two is suspicious, and three is murder".

Professor Meadow said at the trial of Sally Clark, the solicitor wrongly accused of killing her two babies, that the odds of two cot deaths in an affluent, non-smoking family like the Clarks' were one in 73 million, a claim disputed by the Royal Statistical Society.

Other experts have since criticised his work on cot-death and his discovery of Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy (MSbP) in 1977.

Lord Howe, Tory spokesman for Health in the House of Lords, has described Sir Roy's work on MSbP as "one of the most pernicious and ill-founded theories to have gained currency in childcare and social services over the past 10 to 15 years".

The Court of Appeal will later hear the cases of Angela Cannings and Donna Anthony, both convicted of killing their babies after Sir Roy gave evidence at their trials.

In the case of Donna Anthony, who is serving life for smothering her two babies in 1998, Sir Roy said two natural cot-deaths occurring in her family was a one-in-a-million chance. Other experts claim it to be as low as one in 8,500.

Chris Cloke, of the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, said: "The NSPCC wants to see systematic review and analysis of all child deaths by teams made up of health experts, police and social service professionals."

A spokeswoman for the Crown Prosecution Service said prosecutors would continue to make decisions in the same way. Sir Roy was unavailable for comment.