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News Round-Up Week Ending 11.3.16

(Posted on 11/03/16)


Shaken Baby Expert “Misled Courts”:

The Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service (MPTS) has ruled that paediatric neuropathologist Waney Squier gave evidence outside her area of expertise.

Dr Squier, based at Oxford's John Radcliffe Hospital, had disputed the significance of a triad of symptoms – swelling of the brain, bleeding between the skull and brain and bleeding into the retina of the eye – as diagnostic of “shaken baby syndrome”.

As an expert witness in six cases, including the deaths of four babies and a 19-month-old child, Dr Squier gave evidence that injuries were not consistent with non-accidental injury. The tribunal found that she had misrepresented research in order to support her views, describing her as “dogmatic, inflexible and unreceptive to any other view”, effectively “cherry-picking” from the academic medical literature.

“I've done my best to give an opinion based on my experience, based on the best evidence I can find to support my view,” Dr Squier reacted, describing herself as devastated at the ruling, and adding that her view was “backed by many, many people who are cleverer than I am, who are scientists”.

Responding to an earlier inquiry, Dr Squier has argued that a court “should be able to hear evidence for both prosecution and for a defence and that anybody who has a valid and sincere opinion should be given the opportunity to express that opinion in court.

“It appears to me that there has been an attempt to remove from the courts all of those people who are willing to challenge the mainstream hypothesis, even if those opinions are sincerely held and are based on a lot of day-to-day experience and a thorough grounding in the current evidence available in the scientific literature.”

On Monday, the tribunal panel will consider whether Dr Squier, 67, remains fit to practise. 

At 8:30 on Monday evening, BBC One will broadcast Panorama: Shaken Babies: What's the Truth?