Intended for healthcare professionals


Draft bill sets out how courts should weed out unreliable expert witnesses

BMJ 2011; 342 doi: (Published 22 March 2011) Cite this as: BMJ 2011;342:d1832
  1. Clare Dyer
  1. 1BMJ

New legislation to help judges weed out unreliable expert evidence and cut the number of miscarriages of justice in England and Wales has been recommended by the Law Commission, the government’s official law reform body.

The commission, headed by an appeal court judge, says there is a pressing need for the law to be beefed up after at least 11 wrongful convictions in the past eight years caused by or involving unreliable expert evidence.

Several of the miscarriages of justice cited—including “shaken baby” cases and the convictions of mothers Sally Clark and Angela Cannings for murdering their babies, which were later quashed on appeal—rested on evidence from medical experts.

Although the …

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