Vast Majority of Meadow's Baby Murder Cases Ruled Safe
Colin Brown and Maxine Frith, The Independent (London, England)
ONLY A handful of cases in which women have been convicted of killing their babies on the evidence of the discredited paediatrician Professor Sir Roy Meadow are to be referred to the Court of Appeal.
After a review of more than 100 cot-death cases by Lord Goldsmith, the Attorney General, the vast majority of "Munchausen's by proxy" murder convictions have been ruled safe.
The findings will come as a shock to campaigners, who expected scores of women to be freed from jail and many others who have completed their sentences to be cleared.
Lord Goldsmith is expected to announce the conclusions of the review to Parliament soon, possibly as early as today. Only half a dozen cases are likely to be sent to appeal.
The review was ordered in the wake of three high-profile cases in which women were accused but subsequently cleared of murdering their babies.
Angela Cannings and Sally Clark were convicted chiefly on Sir Roy's theory that one cot death in a family is a tragedy, two are grounds for suspicion and three, unless proved otherwise, are murder.
Trupti Patel was tried but acquitted of murdering her three babies after her trial heard that "Meadow's law", as it became known, was seriously flawed.
When Ms Cannings, convicted of killing three of her babies, was freed on appeal in January, Lord Goldsmith and Harriet Harman, the Solicitor General, ordered a review of 258 cot-death cases, with priority given to 53 women still in prison. More than half of the cases involving Sir Roy's evidence have now been examined. The Independent has learnt that only a handful are to be referred to the Court of Appeal. The small number of women involved are expected to be cleared and released.
Children's charities feared that the Cannings judgment would become a "murderer's charter", making it difficult to prosecute mothers suspected of killing their children.
Sir Roy was the first expert to discover Munchausen's by proxy in the 1980s. The condition causes parents to harm or kill their babies to gain attention and sympathy.
He has given evidence in hundreds of cases, helping to convict women who claimed their babies had died as a result of cot death or other accidents. …