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Views And Reviews Personal View

The law is not equipped to consider scientific dispute

BMJ 2016; 352 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.i1768 (Published 31 March 2016) Cite this as: BMJ 2016;352:i1768

Dr Waney Squier. A reply to Prof. Terence Stephenson

Professor Stephenson's confidence in the MPTS Tribunal’s judgment is misplaced. Careful analysis of the 'Determination of Facts' shows it to be wrong, illogical and apparently biased against Dr Squier. Specifically it
• contains only minimal reference to her evidence, witnesses and arguments of her counsel;
• dismisses the evidence of four of her five expert witnesses as lacking impartiality and / or credibility, but without any examples or detailed explanation;
• cites their evidence only where arguably it supported the GMC case (aka “cherry picking”, for which it condemned Dr Squier)
• uses formulaic reasoning to find that Dr Squier acted irresponsibly and then to escalate that finding to one of dishonesty;
• blunders into imposing strict liability by ruling that for a doctor to testify outside her field of expertise is per se dishonest;
• usurps the power of the courts to decide what expertise is required to give evidence;
• repeatedly confuses mere error, misunderstanding or disagreement with dishonesty.

The website of Inside Justice has published detailed articles by us analysing the DOF, together with an open letter from Dr Jennian Geddes to the Chair of the MPTS, which describes the Tribunal’s treatment of the four defence experts as “deplorable”, and articulates a widely held concern that it will strongly inhibit experts from testifying against any received view. Her letter asks for a public statement that nothing in the DOF should diminish the reputation of any of the four for integrity or expertise, and that it has no bearing on the scientific validity of the ‘shaken baby’ hypothesis.

So far there has been no reply. See www.insidejusticeuk.com

Yrs etc

Michael Birnbaum QC
Dr Michael Powers QC

Declaration of interest
Mr Birnbaum QC and Dr Geddes gave evidence for Dr Squier at the Tribunal hearing.

Competing interests: No competing interests

10 May 2016
Michael Birnbaum
Queen's Counsel
Michael Powers QC
London