Reviews TV

Cot Death Mothers: The Witch Hunt

BMJ 2003; 326 doi: (Published 15 February 2003) Cite this as: BMJ 2003;326:402
  1. Richard Wilson, consultant paediatrician
  1. Kingston Hospital, Surrey

    Rating: Embedded ImageEmbedded Image

    BBC 2, 13 February at 9 50 pm

    This documentary by the journalist John Sweeney focused on the interface between medicine and the law when there are miscarriages of justice following infant deaths, as in the case of Sally Clark, freed last month from a life sentence after the appeal court quashed her murder convictions (BMJ 2003;326:304). The programme claimed that cot death parents were subjected to a witch hunt, and then proceeded to set up its own witch hunt. “What were the causes?” became “who is responsible?” and then “we name the guilty!”

    It principally targeted the paediatrician Professor Sir Roy Meadow, who, as an expert witness at Sally Clark's trial, famously claimed that the chances of two cot deaths occurring in the same family were 1 in 73 million. …

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