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I'LL CLEAR MY NAME; Accused Scots mother launches cot death case.

Byline: RON MOORE, Chief Reporter

A SCOTS mum has launched a landmark bid to clear her name after being wrongly accused of trying to murder her own baby.

The woman had two children taken away from her after claims her baby boy was at risk were backed up by theories from discredited paediatrician Sir Roy Meadow.

Now the Scottish Mirror has learned of a dozen other Scots women who were also prosecuted on the basis of Meadow's flawed theory.

The first case will go before Scots courts for urgent review after Angela Cannings was cleared over her two baby sons' cot deaths.

Mrs Cannings, 40, was freed after being wrongly convicted of murder in Wiltshire. Her conviction was based partly on Meadow's belief that two baby deaths in one family must be treated as suspicious.

Legal sources say the Scots case is the first of a flood triggered by the Cannings' judgement.

The husband of the Scots woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, said: "Our world fell apart.

"We want to take the whole case back and say to them: 'Look at every aspect of this'. We can prove that we never did what we were accused of. We have the evidence, the proof to clear our name."

The family, who are from the west of Scotland, have already instructed lawyers to prepare a case.

Their ordeal began soon after the birth of their son in 1993, when the baby stopped breathing on several occasions.

His mum was accused of trying to smother him and doctors at Glasgow's Royal Hospital for Sick Children said she was suffering from Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy - hurting her own child to get the attention of medical staff.

In fact, he had developed breathing difficulties after being given a drug linked to infant deaths.

Her other child was also removed after then Prof Meadow - then a consultant paediatrician - testified in a 1994 court hearing that the tot was 50 per cent at risk of being harmed by his mum.

And a children's hearing ruled that she had most likely tried to harm her own child "on the balance of probabilities".

But an exhaustive police probe found no evidence and no charges were ever pressed against her.

Her daughter was returned to her shortly after the hearing. Yet she was only reunited with her son when the Crown Office decided no further action should be taken against her in 1996, two-and-a-half years after his birth.

The husband added: "We were found guilty on the basis of flawed evidence and there was no appeal.

"We hope this new case will fall upon them with great vigour."

Families in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Greenock, East Kilbride, Milngavie and Dumfries-shire are known to be among those considering Scots court actions.

It was announced yesterday that the cases of thousands of children who may have been wrongly put into care are to be reviewed.

Up to 5,000 children have been taken from parents said to be suffering Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy - a condition first identified by Professor Meadow.

Solicitor General Harriet Harman announced yesterday that they are to be included in an inquiry into the cases of 258 women convicted of killing their babies over the past decade.

Ms Harman told MPs: "We will make sure that we recognise that not only injustices done in the criminal justice system but any potential injustices in care proceedings are identified and acted on."

The review of civil and criminal cases may lead to thousands of families being reunited. Ms Harman said priority will be given to 54 women still in jail, some of whom may be freed on bail pending appeal.

Fifteen current prosecutions relating to unexplained infant deaths may now be dropped, she added.


DISGRACE: Professor Meadow
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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Jan 21, 2004
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