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January 25, 2004

Munchausen Scandal Update II

Here's an update to an update I did on the story of a British scandal involving possibly tens of thousands of children being wrongfully taken from their parents because of "Munchausen by Proxy", which I blogged here, and then with a follow up here.

Today's UK Telegraph carries a devastating indictment of the legal shenanigans that child welfare advocates have been using in the British courts. Just for an update, the attorney general overrode the views of the minister of children and ordered a review of all the cases.

The attorney general, Lord Goldsmith, must be a bold man. The logistical - and financial - implications of the vast review he initiated last week of thousands of cases of alleged child abuse is awesome enough.

Indeed it is. I didn't expect anything other than the whole thing to be swept under the rug by the Minster for Children, who also was in charge of the children's homes struck by Britain's largest ever pedophile scandal.

We are dealing here with the greatest single volte face in the history of the British judicial system. He could so easily have fudged the issue, prevaricated by setting up some commission of inquiry composed of the good and great to report a few months hence, by which time the adverse publicity and public outrage might have abated. But he did not. Why?

You know you've got an inherent problem in your judicial system when it's considered earth shattering for a judge to do the right thing.

The explanation lies in the closing pages of Lord Justice Judge's brilliant, lucid and devastating Appeal Court ruling in the Angela Cannings case, with its strongest of possible implications that Professor Sir Roy Meadow and his fellow child-abuse experts in their roles as professional witnesses have been making a mockery out of the British legal system - and that is a very serious matter.

Indeed it is, and it seems they finally got fisked on it. Skipping on down is this gem about the so-called child welfare experts.

There are two possible explanations for this specious reasoning. The first is that the experts are too dim to realise the inappropriateness of deploying such circular reasoning in a court of law. That seems unlikely. The second is that they are so vindictive and arrogant that they thought they could get away with it - which indeed they almost did, had it not been for one serious mistake when, back in 1998, they overreached themselves in Sally Clark's case and thus set in motion the train of events that led to the scandal we are witnessing today.

The article continues to explain what this overreaching was.

The prosecution portrayed Sally Clark as a drunk and depressive who had subjected her two little boys to prolonged physical abuse before shaking them to death. There was, however, a serious setback soon after the trial began when Prof Michael Green, a forensic pathologist and key expert witness, was forced to concede that the haemorrhages in the back of the eye that he had noted at Harry's autopsy, and which he claimed were "characteristic" of shaking, were not present after all. So he changed his tack. Sally had not shaken Harry to death, she had smothered him instead.

Unfucking believable. Someone actually tried to pull this in court. OJ can turn his wife into a human PEZ dispenser and walk, yet this woman is faced with just random crap! Why didn't they just say she did it in the library with a candlestick?

The Appeal Court, commenting on this, noted subsequently how, during the trial, "important diagnoses and conclusions were altered", how "alleged bleeding in the brain" was found to represent post mortem artefact, "swelling of the spinal cord was shown not to be present and other bruising not substantiated". But while all this might suggest the prosecution case was weak or contradictory, Prof Meadow was on hand to claim that the chances of Sally Clark's two children having died accidentally was one in 73 million and so she must have murdered them. On that basis she was found guilty and sentenced to life imprisonment.
Talk about your Salem Witch Trials. This is something right out of a book about medieval superstitions and burning people at the stake, and I love the article's closer.
The British judiciary is unlikely to let Prof Meadow off lightly. He and his friends may be immune from prosecution for the consequence of the opinions they have so sedulously expressed in court, but that does not mean they cannot be charged with wasting police time and other more serious offences. Many might think that the most appropriate sentence would be that they sought to impose on Sally Clark, Trupti Patel, Angela Cannings and so many others - a mandatory life sentence.

Go read the whole thing. Now!!!

January 25, 2004 in Current Affairs | Permalink

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