Press Release, 2nd July 2002
FROM THE FAMILY AND FRIENDS OF SALLY CLARK
The family and friends of Sally Clark are delighted at the decision of the
Criminal Cases Review Commission to re-open her case at long last. With the
CCRC having referred it back to the Court of Appeal, they fervently hope
and believe that one of the worst miscarriages of justice of the past
decade will now be remedied. They are confident that compelling new
evidence, which reveals a natural cause of death, but which was withheld
from the defence at the trial, will over-turn the earlier false
convictions, clear Sally's name and secure her release from prison.
The appalling miscarriage of justice Sally has suffered has given rise to
widespread public and professional support and concern about the safety of
her convictions (based, as they were, upon deeply flawed medical evidence
and false statistics, which misled the jury, but which continue to be
recycled by some journalists).
It is vital that Sally is reunited with her surviving son, now nearly four,
who has been punished by the absence of his mother for too long. The Clark
family is also anxious that there should be changes in the way in which the
legal system treats the unexplained deaths of babies (a baby dies
inexplicably every day of every year in the UK), to ensure that other
innocent bereaved mothers and their families are not treated as shamefully
as Sally and the Clark family have been.
For more information see www.sallyclark.org.uk
or contact Sue Stapely
BBC Radio 4's File on Four programme features Sally's case this evening at
Notes for Editors:
The pivotal evidence which has persuaded the Criminal Cases Review
Commission to refer Sally's case back to the Court of Appeal turns on the
reliability of Home Office pathologist, Dr Alan Williams.
He alone carried out the post mortems on the two babies, and was the only
one of 11 experts who was prepared to say what he believed were the causes
of the babies' deaths - the paediatric experts all said they it was not
possible to say how the babies died.
Dr Williams commissioned lab tests on the second Clark baby to die, Harry,
immediately after his death, which found lethal levels of bacterial
infection in his body, which were present during his life, showing that the
baby died of natural causes. He made no reference to these test results in
any of his Reports and when, eighteen months later at the trial, the jury
asked him if there had been any tests carried out to show whether Harry had
died from natural causes, he said there had not been.
Dr Williams is not a paediatric pathologist and throughout this case the
Clark family and others have been concerned about his lack of specialist
There are concerns about findings of Dr Williams in other cases, and the
GMC has recently re-opened their investigation of him, following formal
complaints by Martin Bell OBE in December 2000, when he was the MP for
The crucial Lab report was buried in over 1,000 pages of medical records
and only handed to the defence team two years after Sally was convicted.
On going through every line of this material, Sally's husband, Steve (a
partner in a City law firm, who has maintained his wife's innocence
throughout), discovered the previously undisclosed evidence.
Other well-respected medical experts have confirmed their belief that the
report explains Harry's death as being from natural causes - overwhelming
bacterial infection. The first Clark baby to die, Christopher, was
originally found to have died from a respiratory infection, and suspicion
about his death only arose once the Clark's second baby died.
Professor Sir Roy Meadow is also now under scrutiny, having relied on Dr
Williams' evidence and used a statistic about the incidence of cot deaths
which has now been comprehensively discredited, but which was front page
news at the time and clearly influenced the jury.
Until 1990, when mothers were told to put their babies to sleep on their
backs, 40 babies died every week in the UK.
Progress, before July 2002, on new evidence relevant to a second appeal
Professor of child health at Bristol U.,
who wrote the government report that first mentioned the
notorious one-in-73 million
"This statistic was never intended as an
estimate of real risk. It was never
meant to suggest that this was an unnatural occurrence.
"This statistic is of no relevance to a jury
trying to understand whether babies had died
naturally or unnaturally. It was used completely out of
context and so, without explaining how it was arrived at,
it is potentially misleading and dangerous."
New research by Dr Douglas Fleming shows that
Christopher died near to the peak of a national
lung infection epidemic.
Manchester University's Dr David Drucker and colleagues
have identified a `cot death gene', whose existence
firmly knocks on the head the assumption in Meadow's evidence
that cot deaths occur independently.