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05 DEC 2007

David Southall considers appealing General Medical Council's ruling

Newswatch reported last Wednesday on the General Medical Council's fitness-to-practice case of Prof David Southall, a consultant paediatrician (Paediatrician faces being struck off, Nov 28). The Council had ruled that Prof Southall abused his position by falsely accusing a mother of murdering her son by hanging him.

On Tuesday David Southall was struck off for serious medical misconduct and told he has 'deep-seated attitudinal problems'.

In a briefing paper David Southall said: "To date, I have contributed little to the media speculation surrounding the GMC investigation and hearing, believing that the evidence would speak for itself and that common sense would prevail. Clearly, however, my faith in due process was misplaced on this occasion; the GMC's perverse finding has catastrophic implications for the field of child protection, and, indeed, for all similarly sensitive branches of healthcare."

"The main allegation made against me is that, during this interview with the mother, I accused her of murdering her child. This allegation is absolutely untrue."

"Many will be concerned that a GMC panel, consisting of three lay members and one Orthopaedic surgeon, none of whom had any experience of child protection issues, have now decided to believe, beyond all reasonable doubt, what the mother said much later about this interview. Their decision contradicts the sworn testimony of a senior and experienced professional social worker who was present throughout, did not know me, had no medical or nursing links, and who had kept handwritten notes of the interview."

"This outcome means that no health professional can now safely do such work for the legal system, even in the presence of an independent witness. They are left with a stark choice: putting their whole professional future in jeopardy, or risk the safety of the children they work so hard to protect."

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