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SUICIDE FEAR IN DEATH OF TRAGIC SALLY; SHE NEVER GOT OVER APPALLING MISCARRIAGE OF JUSTICE.

Byline: BY ANUJI VARMA

WRONGLY imprisoned solicitor Sally Clark may have committed suicide, it was revealed last night.

Police investigating the tragic death of the 42 year-old, whose body was discovered at her Essex home, say they are not ruling out the possibility that she took her own life.

The solicitor was found guilty of murdering her sons - eight week-old Harry and 11 week-old Christopher - following a trial at Chester Crown Court in 1999.

But the flawed expert evidence of Professor Roy Meadow was a focal point of the hearing, and Mrs Clark's subsequent appeal against her conviction was successful.

She was cleared by the Court of Appeal in 2003 following one of the most high-profile legal cases of recent times.

Prof Meadow was struck off by the General Medical Council in 2005 after it was found that he gave erroneous evidence at the original trial.

It has been claimed that hundreds of Midland families have also been falsely accused as a result of his controversial theories on cot death and child abuse.

Last night, Wolverhampton campaigner Penny Mellor, a close friend of Mrs Clark, expressed shock and sadness at her death.

"You don't ever get over these sort of allegations, especially when you have faced imprisonment," she said.

"There are certain members of society who will always say there isn't any smoke without fire."

Sources at Essex police said they were keeping an open mind about the death, but suicide was not being ruled out.

Sue Stapeley, the Clark family's solicitor, said it would be 'very unwise to speculate' on the cause of death.

Although Mrs Clark was not suffering from any kind of disease, she was not "in the best of health," she added.

A family statement said that she "never fully recovered from the effects of this appalling miscarriage of justice".

It added: "Sally, a qualified solicitor, was a loving and talented wife, mother, daughter and friend. She will be greatly missed."

Mrs Clark's children died within 14 months of each other.

Prof Meadow told jurors that the probability of two natural unexplained cot deaths in the family was 73 million to one.

But the figure was disputed by the Royal Statistical Society and other medical experts, who said the odds of a second cot death in a family were about 200 to one.

Mrs Clark's case mirrored that of Birmingham mother Julie Ferris, who spent two years behind bars after Prof Meadow claimed she murdered her two children, Hayley and Brandon.

She was eventually cleared in 2004 following a Sunday Mercury campaign.

The paediatrician also gave evidence against Birmingham mother Karen Haynes, whose son Michael died at four months old in 1999 - and claimed she may have smothered her baby.

No criminal trial took place, but social services removed her second child Emma following several hearings in the family courts. The little girl was later adopted.

Mrs Haynes, 39, from Birmingham, has since given birth to a second daughter, Amy.

anujivarma@mrn.co.uk

CAPTION(S):

CLEARED: Sally Clark and, opposite, Professor Roy Meadows
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Publication:Sunday Mercury (Birmingham, England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Mar 18, 2007
Words:508
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