There were mounting calls for a full investigation into the controversial pathologist Dr Freddy Patel today, as families claimed he had mishandled post-mortems into the deaths of their loved ones.
The former Home Office expert has been repeatedly questioned over the competence of his autopsies. Last month he was struck off the medical register by the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service (MPTS) for a series of botched post-mortems, including that of newspaper vendor Ian Tomlinson at the G20 protests in April 2009.
Yesterday several family members interviewed by BBC Radio 4’s Today programme called for a public inquiry into his conduct, insisting that post-mortems had been mishandled. They included Hilary Abrey, who remains convinced that Dr Patel mixed up her son’s body with another man, and Bill Sweeney, who said the pathologist concluded his son died of natural causes despite evidence of injuries.
The families said that the only way to restore confidence in the pathology system was to review the cases. The MPTS tribunal panel concluded that Dr Patel had made 68 mistakes during his post-mortem into Mr Tomlinson, who was pushed to the ground by Pc Simon Harwood. The officer was later cleared of manslaughter.
The pathologist initially said Mr Tomlinson had died of heart problems, but subsequent examinations found his death had been caused by an abdominal haemorrhage from blunt force trauma to the abdomen, in association with cirrhosis of the liver.
The MPTS went on to say that Dr Patel was “dishonest”, “lacked insight”, had “a deep-seated attitudinal problem” and an “unwarranted belief” in his own abilities.
Mrs Abrey, whose son Daniel died in 2005, aged 22, said she remained convinced the doctor had examined the wrong man. While her son was a very slim 6ft1in, the report concluded that he was 5ft4in and “well nourished”.
At the inquest in 2006, coroner Andrew Walker said he could not rely on the conclusion that the civil servant had died of a pulmonary oedema and said the cause of death was uncertain.
“Certainly I’ve got a letter from Freddy Patel saying that the height discrepancy was down to rigor mortis, but I don’t believe that. It’s nonsense,” Mrs Abrey said today. “They have ruined my life. I will never get over it.”
Mr Sweeney, 69, also insisted that the pathologist had botched a post-mortem into his son’s death in 1991. He claims his son was assaulted by police - allegations that are denied - who then gave false information to the hospital, resulting in a fatal blood infusion.
Mr Sweeney said he found it “baffling” that Dr Patel concluded his son had died of natural causes (a brain haemorrhage) despite evidence of injuries. “The report specifically states that there were no signs of violence, which I find astonishing because he described them in detail...This has completely destroyed us.”
Freddy Patel: Doctor Of Distress
1999: Reprimanded by the General Medical Council for telling reporters Roger Sylvester, 30, who had died in police custody, was a crack cocaine user, something his family denied.
2002: Police drop a criminal inquiry into the death of prostitute Sally White after Patel said she died of a heart attack with no signs of violence, though she was reportedly found naked with clear injuries.
2010: Mr Patel is suspended for three months for “deficient professional performance” after facing 26 charges relating to four cases. These included Maja Trajkovic, 21.
Although she was found partially clothed in bushes, he concluded she had died of opiate poisoning.In the case of five-year-old Annastacia Williams, who died after a fall, Patel was accused of failing to spot signs of potential abuse.