This week the press reported that 5 out of the first 97 criminal cases of possible miscarriage of justice examined in the wake of the Clark and Cannings judgements are to be reviewed by the courts. A further 200 cases are awaiting examination.
A regional newspaper has surveyed all the Local Authorities in its area and unsurprisingly found no civil cases to be reviewed.
THE CRIMINAL CASES
When Rioch Edwards Brown and colleagues first began to investigate the possible miscarriages of justice concerning Shaken Baby Syndrome they came up with an initial figure of 5% and accordingly called themselves the ” Five Percenters”. Later investigation led them to suppose that this figure is too low, the real figure being considerably higher.
A figure of 5 out of 97 i.e. approximately 5% of the first trawl of the first tranche of the criminal MSBP cases, whilst profoundly dissapointing is not therefore unreasonable. On this basis it would be logical to expect another 10 or so to come to light from the second tranche of 200 making around 15 in all to be examined in detail in the courts and by the media as a matter of urgency.
Full examination of these 15 cases will demonstrate to Government, Judiciary, Press and Public the corrupt system which has led to such miscarriages of justice and will set case law precedent.
The remaining approx 282 of this first 297 should then be re-examined in the light of the court findings regarding the first 15. At that point the real scale of the problem will begin to become evident and larger numbers of further criminal cases will inevitably be reviewed.
THE CIVIL CASES
We always knew that the review of the civil cases was a meaningless exercise designed to obfuscate and confuse public opinion.
- The supposed reviews were announced without the withdrawal of the highly flawed and contentious D o H guidelines on the identification of FII or MSBP. Any review therefore was to be undertaken within the context of these guidelines. If the guidelines were erroneous then a review undertaken in the context of misleading guidelines could not reach any fair or reasonable conclusions – the guidelines have to be withdrawn before meaningful review is possible. (Please see my ppppc website news item of 24 01 04 on the subject of the guidelines.) It’s all a question of where you start from and the D o H guidelines are the wrong starting place as they were written on the basis of Meadow’s advice to the D o H and the NSPCC.
- The supposed reviews were to be undertaken by the guilty parties – i.e. the Social Service departments. Any GCSE student given the opportunity to mark their own maths paper will give themselves full marks; either because they want success or because they don’t understand where they made the mistakes in the first place.
- Parents are not coming forward to ask for their cases to be reviewed because they are afraid of loosing already fragile contact arrangements with their children in care.
- Most aggrieved parents will have already insisted that their cases should be the subject of Local Authority complaints procedures which look only at process, not at content. The complaints procedures have therefore always or almost always found the Local Authorities to have behaved correctly within the guidelines of the Children Act and the D o H guidelines. Local Authorities will not therefore see the need to reopen these cases – they have not understood that the Cannings judgement should cause them to re-examine content not procedure.
- Doctors and other experts who have been keen to uphold the theory of MSBP or FII have recommended to Local Authorities that they get second and third opinions from other experts recommended by and known to them. Cases have therefore not fitted into the Governments review categories because they do not appear to be based on a conflict of evidence. Evidence by experts professionally related or known to one another should not be regarded as independent of each other.
- Social Workers and others have routinely refused to allow the admission to Child Protection conferences of contested medical evidence put forward by parents and others (see Lady Mar to Daily Telegraph & to House of Lords of 11 07 01 on the Bolam Principle and myself on my family case as interviewed in Sunday Times News Review of 25 01 04) thus further undermining the Governments supposed review categories.
- Social Workers, lawyers and others have been trained by the Meadow school of thinking (see Vera Baird QC MP to House of Commons 24 02 04) and cannot therefore see the error of content in the cases which should be reviewed in the wake of the Cannings judgement.
For a proper review of the civil cases to be fruitful the first vital step is the withdrawal of the D o H guidelines in FII or MSBP which set a context contrary to the tests of reasonable action or evidence which come from the legal cases of Sally Clark, Trupti Patel or Angela Cannings.
Jan Loxley Blount for parents-protecting-children.org.uk London 08 05 04