A scapegoat for Sarah Payne?BMJ 2002; 324 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.324.7328.56 (Published 05 January 2002) Cite this as: BMJ 2002;324:56
- Raj Persaud, consultant psychiatrist
- The Maudsley Hospital, London
How the media hounded a psychiatrist
It is every doctor's worse nightmare—finding yourself on the front pages of national newspapers universally condemned for a blunder that led to the death of an 8 year old girl. Such was the recent fate of consultant psychiatrist Anthony Farrington.
Among coverage of the conviction of Roy Whiting for the murder of Sarah Payne was a headline on the front page of the Daily Mail of 13 December that howled “Psychiatrist who said killer was not a paedophile.” Inside was a half page photograph of Farrington alongside the banner “Psychiatrist who told a judge that Whiting was no paedophile.” On 15 December Daily Mail columnist Simon Heffer declared that the doctor ought to have the death of Sarah Payne on his conscience.
The media storm that broke over Farrington's head hinged on the press reports that …