Parents Against Injustice
Thousands of parents whose children were taken into care because of fears they may harm them are to have their cases reviewed in an inquiry sparked by the discrediting of a key medical witness.
Solicitor General Harriet Harman confirmed that the care cases – believed to number as many as 5,000 – would be included in an inquiry set up to look into the convictions of 258 women for murdering their babies over the past 10 years.
The inquiry was announced following a Court of Appeal ruling that parents should not be prosecuted over the sudden unexplained death of a child in cases where cot death was a possibility.
The Court was explaining its decision last month to overturn the conviction of Wiltshire shop assistant Angela Cannings for murdering her two baby sons in a case which rested on the evidence of controversial witness Professor Sir Roy Meadow.
His theory that multiple cot deaths in the same family were likely to be murder has been rejected in a series of recent cases including the successful appeal of Sally Clark and the acquittal of Trupti Patel.
And doubt has been cast on the very existence of a condition known as Munchausen’s Syndrome by Proxy, which was first identified by Prof Meadow in 1977 and supposedly drives parents to harm their own children in order to attract attention to themselves.
Outlining the terms of the review in the House of Commons, Ms Harman said it was not known how many parents had lost their children as a result of civil care proceedings in which expert evidence was decisive.
But her announcement that the review would consider civil cases as well as criminal convictions raised the prospect of thousands of families potentially being reunited – in some cases after many years of separation.