Sunday, September 14, 2014

Shaken baby syndrome: Dr. Waney Squier; UK. Disturbing development. Possible witch hunt; The Telegraph reports that this pre-eminent doctor who has acted as an expert witness for parents accused of killing their children (much to the displeasure of the police) and has challenged the existence of the shaken baby syndrome, could be struck off the medical rolls because of her testimony, at a hearing the General Medical Council (the regulator of the British medical profession) commencing tomorrow. She is accused of "bias" and "dishonesty) after disputing the existence of "shaken baby syndrome" in a number of court cases. (Must Read. HL);

COUNTDOWN: 18  days to Wrongful Conviction Day: (Thursday October 2, 2014);

STORY: "Shaken baby expert faces 'witch hunt', by reporters Angela Levin and Laura Donnelly, published by the Telegraph  on September 14, 2014.

SUB-HEADING: "Doctor who stood up for parents accused of killing their children and challenged the existence of the syndrome could be struck off over her testimony."

PHOTO CAPTION: "Dr Waney Squier is a specialist on the Shaken Baby Syndrome."

GIST: "A leading doctor who acted as an expert witness for parents accused of killing their children faces being struck off, amid claims that she is the victim of a police witch hunt. Dr Waney Squier, a paediatric neuropathologist, is due to appear before the General Medical Council (GMC) tomorrow accused of “bias” and “dishonesty” after disputing the existence of “shaken baby syndrome” in a number of court cases.........The case opening tomorrow could see Dr Squier, a pathologist for more than 30 years, removed from the medical register, for the opinions she has expressed in court. The charges against her — of which few details have been released — have shocked several medical and legal specialists, who believe the action stems from a campaign to silence doubts about the theory, and secure more convictions for child murder.........Dr Squier became the target of criticism. This culminated in a 2009 case in which a High Court judge, Justice Eleanor King, accused her of speaking “contrary to the mainstream of current thinking”. As a result, in April 2010, police referred the doctor to the GMC. Around the same time, Scotland Yard police are alleged to have undermined the pathologist and other expert witnesses blamed for failure to convict in cases of shaken baby syndrome. At a US conference in 2010, Det Insp Colin Welsh, then of the Met’s child abuse investigation command, was reported to have suggested police would investigate such experts and report them to their professional bodies “to see if we turn up anything”. Since then, the pathologist has been rejected by a number of courts. In 2011, Dr Squier said: “If I am blocked from giving evidence in court, defendants already having to cope with the tragic death of a baby will not get the benefit of the new science. Equally, if the courts fail to accept that the mainstream view of 30 years ago can no longer be relied upon, there will be serious miscarriages of justice.” The pathologist said many convictions for shaken baby syndrome relied on confessions. “Some police grind those accused down interviewing them for hours while their baby is dying in hospital,” she said. “Under such duress people can confess to anything.” Tomorrow, a GMC fitness to practise panel will consider charges that between 2007 and 2010, the pathologist failed to be “objective and unbiased”, was “dishonest”, and “brought the reputation of the medical profession into disrepute” while acting as an expert witness in court cases. Last week, the GMC had yet to pass on to the pathologist’s lawyer full details of her alleged dishonesty. Dr Squier said: “I refute the charges absolutely. I will be putting up a very robust defence but I am unable to discuss it further at the moment.” If she is cleared, it could throw the findings of thousands of cases into question. Prof Margaret Esiri, emeritus professor of neuropathology at the University of Oxford, who has worked with Dr Squier since the 1980s, said: “Her findings do make it more difficult for the police to prosecute. They would rather evidence was cut and dried so they can get their convictions.”"
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