Intended for healthcare professionals


Judge criticises paediatrician for claiming to know how to assess age of asylum seekers

BMJ 2011; 342 doi: (Published 16 June 2011) Cite this as: BMJ 2011;342:d3816
  1. Clare Dyer
  1. 1BMJ

A high court judge has strongly criticised a paediatrician for placing “erroneous confidence” in “unreliable” statistical methods for determining whether young asylum seekers are under the age of 18.

Mr Justice Kenneth Parker said he had no doubt that Diana Birch had great experience in working with children, and in particular adolescents, and had accumulated considerable experience and expertise bearing on her credibility as an assessor of age.

But he had to approach her conclusion that an Afghan asylum seeker was under 18 with “very great caution” because of her reliance on statistical methods for determining age, which were “not scientifically established and unreliable.”

The ruling comes amid a flood of legal …

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