Judgement of the Court of Appeal 29.1.2003
R v Sally Clark
We are satisfied that the trial of this appellant was not a fair
trial in that the jury were deprived of the opportunity of hearing
and considering medical evidence that may have
influenced their decision.
This resulted from the failure of the pathologist
to share with other doctors investigating the cause of death
information that a competent pathologist ought to have appreciated
needed to be assessed before any conclusion was
reached. The Court of Appeal on the previous
occasion reached their conclusions wholly unaware
of this aspect of the matter.
We have no doubt that the resulting convictions are,
therefore, unsafe and must be quashed.
We will give our detailed reasons in writing at a later date.
Normally we would have gone on to consider whether
these very important matters should be re-tried. One of the
paramount issues for us to decide in this respect would
have been whether there could now be a fair hearing having
regard to the previous history. With commendable
good sense, the prosecution have themselves decided that
no such re-trial can take place. That is principally
because the failure to share information with other doctors
meant that a number of important further tests
which other doctors would have felt necessary were not
carried out and can no longer be carried out. Thus, in what is
on any view a very difficult case medically,
the court would be deprived of the further
evidence that might have been
forthcoming from such tests. The other factor considered
by the Crown is the extent of the publicity given
to this case. Thus we do not have to consider the question of
a re-trial and for the reasons which we will, as indicated,
give in detail later, we allow the appeal
and quash the convictions.