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01 February 2004 - Panorama of Injustice - By Sunday Sun

The Government has been slammed for an apparent U-turn on a promise to review thousands of cases where children were taken into care on the evidence of discredited expert Sir Roy Meadow.

The cases involve Meadow's theory of Munchausen's syndrome by proxy, MSBP for short, as part of which people allegedly harm their kids to seek attention for themselves.

Campaigners were happy when children's Minister Margaret Hodge was quoted last week saying that all cases dating back 15 years based on the controversial theory would be looked into.

The following day, Solicitor General Harriet Harman appeared to confirm the review in the House of Commons.

However, a spokeswoman for Ms Hodge's Department for Education and Skills, DfES, has now said a review was just one of a number of options being considered.

Jan Loxley, a leading campaigner for the families, fumed: "This is an appalling turnaround which will devastate families who have been falsely accused. But it doesn't surprise me in the slightest, because this Government has been aware there was a problem with MSBP for years but did nothing.

"In fact they have covertly supported the Msbp experts.

"This is apparent in the drawing up of guidelines for the Department of Health (DoH) in which they completely ignored evidence and warnings from other experts that the theory was seriously flawed."

Meadow's theory was discredited following the cases of three mothers wrongly accused of killing their children on his evidence.

Sally Clark was cleared on appeal, Trupti Patel was acquitted and Angela Cannings, who was jailed in 2002 for murdering her two baby sons, had the conviction quashed last December.

The DfES spokeswoman claimed: "There hasn't been any announcement about civil cases. The interview quoting Margaret Hodge was conducted before the Angela Cannings trial concluded.

"The situation at the moment is that the Minister is studying the judgment in the Angela Cannings trial and is considering the implications and the action that will be taken."

However, a North mum who lost her two children after being accused of having MSBP said: "The Government is trying to shut this down because they have opened a can of worms that will cost them dear.

"They know that those falsely accused and imprisoned will be able to claim thousands in compensation, and those falsely accused in civil cases will bring legal action.

"They are running scared and are more concerned with the monetary impact than they are about the families who have been falsely accused.

"If they attempt to close this down we will take to the streets in protest because this is the biggest single miscarriage of justice that has ever been known in British history."

Her case has now been taken up by Bill Bache, Angela Cannings' solicitor. He fears the situation is similar to the circumstances that led to the Cleve- land child abuse scandal.

During the 1980s scores of children in Cleveland were taken into care because experts using a controversial - and later discredited - diagnostic technique claimed they had been abused.

Mr Bache said: "I suspect we may be looking at a huge panorama of injustice.

"We are back at the situation in Middlesbrough where the extraordinary views of doctors were coupled with supine acceptance of what they said because they were specialist paediatricians."

The Sunday Sun can reveal that the authorities had been aware of concerns regarding MSBP as far back as 1995.

Colin Morley of Addensbrooke Hospital in Cambridge, raised numerous worries about how accurate and appropriate the diagnosis was.

It was again highlighted by the Griffiths Report in 2000, which was looking into claims against Msbp expert David Southall that he made false allegations of child abuse against parents.

Despite the grave concerns raised, the DoH - following recommendations by the report's authors - issued guidelines to social workers and health professionals detailing how to recognise MSBP. These guidelines are still on DoH and DfES websites. Yet many experts say the symptoms outlined by them are too like those displayed by children with autism and that many parents could have been misdiagnosed with MSBP.

Meanwhile, Southall, whose mentor was Professor Meadow, is still under investigation by the General Medical Council.

Further warnings were made by former Attorney General Sir Nicholas Lyell MP when he wrote to the then Lord Chancellor, Derry Irvine, raising concerns about the diagnoses in 2000. And the issue has been raised many times over the years by Lord Freddy Howe, Lady Marr and Lord Clement-Jones in the House of Lords and psychologist Lisa Blakemore-Brown.

The North mum - who has battled to be reunited with her children for five years - added: "You can bet that, across the UK, local authorities, doctors and member of the judiciary are now busy trying to find ways to limit the damage.

"This is all about vested interests looking after themselves . . . and to hell with justice."

You can find the report on line at the following address:-

Also another report in the Scotland on Sunday Newspaper :-

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