Feature Expert Witnesses

“Shaken baby” expert with unconventional views struck off

BMJ 2016; 352 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.i1726 (Published 31 March 2016) Cite this as: BMJ 2016;352:i1726
  1. Jacqui Wise, freelance journalist, London, UK
  1. jacquiyoung1{at}gmail.com

The GMC has ruled that the expert witness Waney Squier deliberately misled the courts with her unconventional views. Jacqui Wise considers the implications

The consultant neuropathologist Waney Squier, who gave evidence for parents in alleged “shaken baby” cases, has been struck off the medical register. The Medical Practitioners’ Tribunal took five months to rule that Squier deliberately and dishonestly misled the courts, showing a blatant disregard for one of the basic tenets of the medical profession.

The ruling not only destroys her career but also may discourage doctors from appearing as expert witnesses or speaking out against mainstream views.

The tribunal ruled that Squier failed to recognise the limits of her knowledge and competence in giving evidence and failed to respect the skills and contributions of colleagues. It said: “Your attitude towards your colleagues was shocking, openly displaying your disdain for their expertise and opinions.” It said that she repeatedly gave evidence that fell outside her area of expertise and competence and deliberately and dishonestly misinterpreted, mis-stated, and misquoted research to support her opinions.

The tribunal accepted that Squier had not caused any direct harm to patients, and the findings of dishonesty have been made only in relation to her medicolegal work. However, it said that the evidence that she presented in court had the potential to subvert the course of justice.

Pathology of the developing brain

Squier worked as a consultant at the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford, specialising in the pathology of the developing brain in the fetus and neonate. She has given evidence as an expert witness in more than 50 cases worldwide.

In the …

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