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Saturday 29th October 2016

Child abuse testimony concern

21st July 2006

21072006_childs_eyes1.jpgAccording to an editorial in the BMJ Doctors are increasingly unlikely to testify in child abuse cases because of high-profile cases in recent years. The editorial is written by David Chadwick, who has provided expert testimony in many cases, and is a retired child abuse paediatrician from the USA.

In July 2005 Roy Meadow was struck off by the GMC for giving flawed statistical evidence in a trial, although he was reinstated in February by the High Court. In the same case David Southall was found guilty of serious professional misconduct and banned from child protection work for three years after reporting his suspicions of abuse.

In his editorial Dr Chadwick says that “In the United Kingdom, the risks of testifying that a child has been abused have become formidable and many doctors are reluctant to testify." He goes on to say that "Without such testimony from expert witnesses children may be unprotected from abuse.?

The editorial accompanies an analysis piece in the journal by freelance journalist Jonathan Gornall, who raises concerns that a recent handbook called Child Protection Companion produced by the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health omits any direct references to original research done by Professors Meadow and Southall. The college denies references were deliberately omitted. 

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