GMC wins as witness ruling is overturned

The GMC has won back the right to try GPs who give inaccurate evidence when standing as an expert witness in court, even for honest mistakes.

The Appeal Court has overturned a ruling that would have made expert witnesses exempt from professional regulation, following an appeal by the GMC  in the case of Sir Roy Meadow (GP, 10 March).

The GMC has welcomed the ruling, saying it can now uphold public safety, whereas before it had been rendered ‘toothless’.

GMC chief executive Findlay Scott said: ‘The public must be confident that doctors and other professionals, who give evidence in court proceedings, can be held to account by their regulator.

‘We did not accept that the GMC should be prevented from using its statutory powers when we judge it to be necessary.’

Professor Meadow originally appeared before the GMC after giving flawed statistical evidence in the trial of Sally Clark, who was wrongfully convicted of killing her children. A GMC fitness-to-practise panel found him guilty of serious professional misconduct and ordered he be struck off the medical register.

High Court judge Mr Justice Collins overruled the decision, saying that Professor Meadow had made an easy mistake in misinterpreting the statistics.

The latest ruling from the Appeal Court found that the High Court decision that Professor Meadow was not guilty of professional misconduct should stand. But it overturned the decision to grant immunity to expert witnesses.

  • June 1998: Professor Meadow gives evidence in Sally Clark case.
  • June 2005: GMC finds Professor Meadow guilty of serious professional misconduct.
  • February 2006: Professor Meadow wins High Court appeal against GMC decision.
  • October 2006: GMC overturns High Court decision and regains regulatory powers on expert witnesses.

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