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Views & Reviews

Open letter to the General Medical Council

BMJ 2007; 335 doi: (Published 13 December 2007) Cite this as: BMJ 2007;335:1265
  1. R Wheatley, consultant community paediatrician, designated doctor for child protection
  1. 1Child Development and Family Support Centre, Blackpool
  1. Dr.Wheatley{at}

    Dear Professor Catto

    I am writing to you as a designated doctor for child protection. As part of my responsibilities I am required to offer advice and guidance to doctors within my area about child protection matters. Unfortunately, in the light of the recent verdict against Professor David Southall, I feel I cannot fulfil that role responsibly; to do so would put both my and their registration at peril. We urgently need guidance.

    I have struggled through the available transcripts of the 33 day hearing which culminated in this judgment. The judgment found that David Southall had inappropriately accused a mother of murdering her 10 year old child. Much of the case hinges on a complaint made by a Mrs “M.” As you are doubtless aware, there have been many such complaints made over the years against Dr Southall, almost all of which are linked to an energetic and committed, but deeply misguided campaign largely run by Penny Mellor. It is perhaps worth noting the commentary on her activities given by Mr Justice Whitburn, in sentencing her to two years imprisonment for her part in the abduction of …

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