Related Sector: Expert Witness

It’s worth you following the General Medical Council hearing in the case of Dr Waney Squier, a paediatric neuropathologist, who faces being struck off. 

She has acted as an expert witness in many cases and has been accused of “bias” and “dishonesty” after disputing the existence of shaken baby syndrome. She says new research has brought into question the received wisdom around SBS. Read the full article in the Telegraph.

We will be looking at the issues raised at the hearing, that will last several days, at the expert witness conference We are also hosting a comment section below and if you would like to contribute to this, please send your comments to cbutcher@bondsolon.com

 

"I find the change of opinion regarding shaken baby syndrome, based on new research, by Dr Squier to be reassuring. Reassuring that an expert can alter years of thought in light of new evidence, especially when in my experience so many others do not. Dr Squier shows that not only can experts keep up to date, but by doing so their thinking and opinions can, and should change. Whether she is right or wrong is not the point, it is that she has responded to the research and shared that with the court. She is to be congratulated. In regard to the CPS and a ‘witch hunt,’ Dr Squier is not the only one. If they cannot get the professional body to act, they go directly to the press and try to create a case. Winning is everything to the CPS and the police, a product of years of government target setting where successful convictions and long sentences are a sign of achievement. In my view, one might reasonably argue that if the targets for the CPS and police were altered in some way, we might reduce their need to act in a manner that seeks to end the career of so many professionals. Taking out the witnesses who stop them achieving their targets appears to be an increasing area of expertise for the CPS." - Consultant Psychologist

"Surely the Met investigating a Dr who happens not to agree with the consensus – and holds an expert view – is a little like the tobacco companies (circa 1960s) reporting Sir Richard Doll to GMC for his novel theory that tobacco caused lung cancer…" - General Practitioner

"The accusations against Dr Waney Squier are a clear attempt to silence a brave pathologist who dared questioning the dogma of one of the most contested diagnosis in paediatric neuropathology. She is accused of being dishonest, when she had the honesty to change her diagnosis in the light of new research that showed her previous diagnosis may have been erroneous. She is accused of not being objective and unbiased when she based her conclusions in an objective and unbiased lecture of the clinical notes. She is accused of not siding with the “majority of medical opinion” as if medicine and science were a question of votes. We wlould still be in the Middle Ages if the true scienists had always sided with the “majority”. She is accused of stepping out of her area of expertise and not deferring to other experts. Has she given an opinion on architecture or on geology? Because medicine is her area of expertise and anything that has a relationship with neuropathology is, and should be, within her area of expertise. Her expertise is not counting the number of red neurons or the thickness of blood in the subdural space. Her expertise lies in looking at a brain or slides of a brain and interpreting the meaning of what she sees in the context of the radiology, clinical signs and symptoms, and the biomechanical forces that may have induced these changes. Where would we be if a neuropathologist could not comment on the mechanism of the injury, radiology, clinical presentation, treatment and the effects of treatment? She is accused of bringing the medical profession into disrepute when it is professionals like her, who dare give an honest and well researched opinion that might not be in agreement with the opinions of others (with many fewer publications on the subject), the ones that enhance the reputation of our profession. The GMC is acting as Judge and Jury but worse of all, also as a Prosecutor, requesting only the opinions of those who have a lot to gain by silencing the most senior and prestigious paediatric neuropathologist in the country." - Pathologist

"I'm not an expert, simply an interested member of the public with a rather jaundiced view of the treatment of doctors and scientists who stray from mainstream opinion, but who are often ultimately proved right."

 

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3 comments
  • A. Norman Guthkelch - Retired

    19 Feb 2015 22:45

    The original purpose of my research was to enquire why new born babies never developed papilledema when the pressure in their heads rose, but rather retinal hemorrhages.. Since then various explanations have been offerred, I only regret that a minority of these have been mosleading , not to say mendacious. Throughout this cotroversy, Waney has told the truth to all who would listen.

  • Consultant paediatrician

    22 Mar 2016 08:39

    The question is whether she remained entirely neutral. There are always grey areas in medicine. It is one thing to say there are other possible explanations. It is another to deny that violence was inflicted in every case you present. Even in the presence of bruising, broken bones, ruptured organs, cigarette burns and more. That is not an honest look at the whole patient. It is simply exploiting the rhetoric against shaken heads syndrome that many cases is only part of the picture you have been given. From what I understand she did her best to create alternative thinking on other aspects of trauma, to allow her neuro theories to prevail. Was this not the nub of the GMC case? It is not neutral to muddy the waters for no other reason than to create a level of doubt in the interest of one or other party.

  • Anonymous

    28 Mar 2016 23:14

    FLAWED CONVICTIONS "Shaken Baby Syndrome & The Inertia of INjustice. Deborah Tuerkheimer Prof. of Law Northwestern University Oxford University Press 2014 Dr Guthkelch: pages 1, 33, 34, 87, 133. Notes: page 220.

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