Sally Clark Court of Appeal hearing
- Background briefing for the media
38, solicitor, wife of Stephen, mother of a four year old son.
Falsely accused of murdering her first two babies, separated from her
surviving child ever since his birth four years ago, has always professed
her innocence, despite considerable pressure to 'confess' in prison.
Refused to accept a plea of manslaughter, even though it would have meant a
non-custodial sentence, and chose to plead not guilty to murder, despite
the prospect of life in prison, because she knew she was innocent and could
never admit to something she had not done. Still maintains her unswerving
belief that the judicial system will eventually provide justice.
The appeal team:
Clare Montgomery QC
Matrix Chambers, called 1980, silk 1996, specialist in criminal law,
former Junior Treasury Counsel, one of the practitioner editors of Archold
Criminal Practice. Described as the 'cleverest of the clever', 'widely
recognised as the sharpest intellectual barrister at the criminal bar'.
Jim Gregory, Barrister
Lincoln House Chambers, Manchester, called 1970, recommended as a criminal
Mike Mackey, Solicitor
Managing partner, Burton Copeland, Manchester. Described as a recognised
market leader, with a long established recognition as one of the leading
practitioners of criminal law.
John Batt, solicitor and consultant to the defence team
Former senior partner of Batt Holden, Wimbledon, now consultant to
the firm. Originally instructed to take a watching brief by old
friend, Frank Lockyer, Sally's father. Has worked for the last three
years virtually full time assembling research materials and investigating,
worldwide the whole area of unexplained infant death.
The support team:
Stephen Clark, solicitor and Sally's husband
Partner in a City law firm, has worked tirelessly alongside the
defence team to clear his wife's name, bringing up their surviving son, age 4.
Frank Lockyer, retired Divisional Commander of South Wiltshire police force
and Sally's father.
Has campaigned tirelessly for his daughter's release
and the overturn of her conviction.
Sue Stapely, solicitor and media relations consultant
Independent communications consultant and former head of public relations
for the Law Society, has been helping the Clark family for the past two
years pro bono by co-ordinating media interest in Sally's case.
David MacKay, Cambridge University academic and statistician
Set up and maintains Sally's website, www.sallyclark.org.uk pro bono.
Robin Spencer QC
9 - 12 Bell Yard Chambers, and Sedan House, Chester, called 1978,
Crown Prosecution Service
Barry Hughes - Chief Crown Prosecutor
Key points of appeal:
See Skeleton Argument available from 28th January
When referring Mrs Clark's case back to the Court of Appeal as a
miscarriage of justice, the Criminal Cases Review Commission said that the
jury had been 'gravely misled' by Dr Williams' answers to their questions,
because, when the microbiology report was finally discovered by accident
in Harry's previously undisclosed medical notes, by Mrs Clark's family two
and a half years after Harry's death, and they passed it to Professor
Morris, he said that the report showed that Harry died from natural causes:
a bacterial infection. 'No other cause of death can be sustained', he said.
The sudden unexpected death of an infant from bacterial/septic shock is
well recognised internationally. Reports from 10 other experts support
this cause of death in Harry Clark.
Mrs Clark was convicted by a 10-2 majority after two days of deliberations
by the jury.
On 24th May 2001 the Solicitors' Disciplinary Tribunal, in an
unprecedented and extraordinary move, decided not to strike Sally off the
Roll of Solicitors, having heard the astonishing story of the medical
contradictions and unbelievable change on the first day of trial of the
whole basis of the murder charge of the second baby. A video recorded by
Sally in prison, outlining her unshakeable belief that her babies had died
from natural causes and that she was not responsible for their deaths was
part of a compelling case before the tribunal. From this time an
increasing number of legal and medical professionals, from all round the
world, have shared the Clark family's and friends' certainty that Sally is
a victim of a dreadful miscarriage of justice.
In July 2002 the Criminal Cases Review Commission received new evidence
submitted by the defence team demonstrating that Harry had died from
natural causes, based on a microbiology report which showed he was
suffering from a bacterial infection which would inevitably have been
fatal. This report, made months before the trial was not made available
to the court or any of the experts except Dr Williams; this in spite of the
fact that the jury asked twice if tests had been carried out on Harry for
natural causes of death.
[ NOT FOR PUBLICATION, JUST FOR INFORMATION: ] Now 12 highly qualified
specialist doctors say that this report contains convincing medical
evidence that Harry died of natural causes. A number of those experts also
believe that Christopher, the first baby, did not die at the hands of his
mother; but the lapse of time and inadequate pathology means that they
cannot be as certain of the precise cause of Christopher's death as they
are in the case of Harry. Extraordinarily, Christopher was suffering from
the same bacterial infection as Harry at the time of his death, but
apparently to a lesser extent. As the first cause of death of Christopher
was originally given as natural causes there was no point in carrying out
the full investigation that might have revealed that Christopher died the
same death as his brother Harry.
Some facts about unexplained infant deaths:
Every day in the UK a baby dies from unexplained causes - a cot death.
Every week a family that already lost one baby
loses a second baby to natural causes.
Before the "Back to Sleep Campaign" (which Anne Diamond backed) encouraged
mothers to put babies to sleep on their backs, about 30 babies died from
unexplained causes each week.
The Clark Family has been contacted by more than 40 families around the UK
where cot deaths have struck more than once. Largely because of the
statistic misused in Sally's trial, many mothers of cot death babies are
concerned that they too may be charged with murder.
CESDI carried out the largest single study of cot deaths ever undertaken
worldwide (published Feb 2000); studied 460,000 births over 3 years in 3
different areas of UK. This government-sponsored study recorded 323 cot
deaths of which 5 were second cot deaths in the same family, a ratio of
Having had 1 cot death, the chance of having a second is the same as the
chance of winning £10 on the lottery.
Using the methodology of the discredited statistic the probability of a
mother murdering 2 of her own children is 1:2,200,000,0000
All media enquiries to: Sue Stapely
NB: A COURT INJUNCTION FORBIDS PUBLICATION OF PHOTOGRAPHS, OR ANY DETAILS
ABOUT THE CLARKS' SURVIVING SON, INCLUDING HIS APPEARANCE, WHERE HE LIVES
OR WHO LOOKS AFTER HIM.
[See also the earlier press release by Sally's
family and friends, July 2002]