Sally Clark

Sally Clark 1964-2007

Sally Clark

Original Electronic Telegraph article | (was located at Original Electronic Telegraph article) Copyright of Telegraph Group Limited 2001.

ISSUE 2177 Friday 11 May 2001

Against the odds


> The Foundation for the Study of Infant Deaths [SIDS]
> Care of the Next Infant scheme - SIDS
> Sudden Infant Death Syndrome Alliance
> C Confidential Enquiry into Stillbirths and Deaths in Infancy (CESDI)

Sally Clark's first two sons died sudden, unexplained deaths before they were 12 weeks old - and, according to one expert witness at her trial for their murder, the odds against that happening naturally were 73 million to one. That statistic has turned out to be flawed - as flawed as much of the medical evidence brought against her. Bob Woffinden argues her case

STEVE CLARK is a very angry man. 'The more I find out about how criminal justice works in practice,' the 39-year-old solicitor told me, 'the more appalled I am. My faith in the system has been completely shattered. If all this can happen to a responsible and reputable couple like us, people who are reasonably intelligent, who have a bit of money and some supportive contacts, what on earth would it be like for those people who haven't got those advantages?'

Accused: Sally Clark
'Us' means him and his wife, Sally, a corporate lawyer, who, at Chester Crown Court on 9 November 1999, was found guilty by majority verdicts of the murders in 1996 of her son Christopher, aged 11 weeks, and in 1998 of eight-week-old Harry, and sentenced to life imprisonment. Her appeal was turned down on 2 October last year. Now 36, she is currently in Bullwood Hall prison, near Southend in Essex.

But what Steve Clark has found almost as painful as his family's tragedy has been its treatment by the media. The case, he points out, turned on complex medical evidence and statistics that, after the trial, were shown to be spurious - in particular, one prosecution witness made headlines by claiming that the likelihood of two such deaths occurring in one family was 73 million to one; it involved a couple who, in their own eyes, were hardworking, decent young professionals, making their way up in the world from very ordinary backgrounds. But in the aftermath of the conviction Steve and his wife were portrayed as enjoying a 'champagne lifestyle' in a luxurious cottage in the stockbroker belt of Cheshire.

But despite such affluence Sally Clark's life was, it was written, a mess: she was a selfish, alcoholic, grasping, depressive, career-obsessed woman who liked pretty clothes, and who first abused and then murdered her children because they ruined her figure and stood in the way of her lucrative future. According to which paper you read, for instance, on the day she murdered Harry she had twice popped out in the morning to her local branch of Victoria Wine to buy, in total, seven, eight - or was it nine? - bottles of wine.

These lurid character portraits are, Steve Clark insists, as inaccurate as the verdicts returned in that Chester courtroom. His wife had, he admits, a drink problem, but the press had neglected to report the most salient points: that she drank most heavily in her grief in the aftermath of each child's death and that there was no evidence that her drinking had contributed to the death of either child - which was why the judge had refused to admit evidence of it at the trial.

Nor, in the pursuit of sensation, did the press point out what Steve Clark constantly emphasises: that the prosecution's medical evidence was hopelessly flawed and discredited, even by their own witnesses. 'We're all in this for the long term,' he says. 'Not just for Sally's sake, but for the sake of our surviving child and, for what it's worth, in the interests of justice. The central thing is that Sally is innocent. She didn't murder our children: she loved them.'

Sally Clark describes her childhood as 'quite idyllic'. she was born in Devizes, Wiltshire, in August 1964, the only child of a hairdresser, Jean, who died of cancer in 1989, and a senior policeman, Frank Lockyer. When Frank retired in 1985, he had been Divisional Commander of South Wiltshire for the previous 16 years and had been decorated with the Queen's Police Medal in 1984. Mr Lockyer, who is now 71, both loves and admires his daughter: 'She wasn't naturally brilliant', he told me, 'but she was a very hard-working girl. She carried the cross at school that all policeman's daughters, and particularly senior policeman's daughters, carry: that they're expected to be a little bit better than everybody else in their behaviour, same as the parson's daughter.'

Sally Clark attended South Wiltshire Grammar School for Girls in Salisbury before going up to Southampton University in 1982 to read Geography. After graduating with a 2:1, she joined Lloyds Bank as a graduate trainee and moved to London. Two years later she was recruited by Citibank, where she worked with corporate clients. And it was there, in 1988, that she met Steve Clark, a lawyer specialising in financial work - Steve, whose father had been a Tory county councillor, had been the only pupil in his year at his comprehensive school in Derbyshire to win a place at Cambridge.

The couple married in 1990, and lived in a flat in north London. Sally Clark decided to become a lawyer - with both banking and legal qualifications, she reasoned, she would be able to specialise in venture capital work - and was finally articled in 1994. In 1993, though, wanting a large enough house in which to be able to start a family, they decided to move out of London. Both got jobs with leading Manchester law firms: Steve with Addleshaw Booth, where he was quickly made a partner; his wife as an assistant solicitor with Halliwell Landau.

They had made a conscious decision to work for different firms but Sally Clark's department's boss was headhunted by Addleshaw Booth and took his team with him. Thus, the couple found themselves working for the same company, albeit in different departments. Their transition north was completed in September 1995, when they moved into Hope Cottage, a comfortable, detached house in Wilmslow, Cheshire. Their first son, Christopher, was born at St Mary's, Manchester, on 22 September 1996. Apparently healthy, he was voted 'best-looking baby' in Sally's postnatal class. Pam Grieve, her health visitor, said Sally was an excellent mother.

When Christopher was ten weeks old, the Clarks went to London to show him to friends. They arrived at the Strand Palace Hotel on Tuesday 3 December. At about 11 o'clock the next morning, Sally and a friend, Liz Cox, went shopping for a new dress to wear at the christening, which was planned for 5 January; Steve stayed behind, working and looking after the baby.

About half an hour after she had gone, Steve noticed that Christopher was struggling to breathe and had a nosebleed from both nostrils. He became alarmed, rang the switchboard, and two staff with first-aid qualifications came to his room. By the time they arrived, though, Steve had cleaned up the blood. The hotel staff gave him the number of a local GP; when Steve rang, the doctor told him he could bring Christopher in if he was still concerned, although it sounded as though there was no need as the baby seemed to have recovered.

Determined to fight: Stephen Clark
When his wife returned with Liz Cox at about 1pm, Steve told them what had happened; all seemed well, so they took no further action. The next week Sally Clark mentioned the incident to her GP; he did not appear to find it troubling. (The entire episode became a matter of contention. Initially, the prosecution claimed that no nosebleed had taken place. Police could find no evidence that Steve had either called first-aiders or phoned a doctor; the defence, however, discovered from the hotel's telephone records that a four-minute conversation had taken place with a GP at 11.42am - roughly the time Steve had said he called. Reluctantly, the prosecution accepted that a nosebleed had taken place.)

On 13 December Steve went to his department's Christmas dinner. His wife was at home alone with Christopher. After feeding him at 7.30pm, she put him down in the couple's bedroom. At about 9.15pm, she went to the kitchen to make a cup of tea. When she returned, she saw that Christopher - who was, she says in his Moses basket - had turned grey. She phoned 999 at 9.35pm, and an ambulance arrived within two minutes.

Sally Clark, though, was all but hysterical, and unable to let the crew in; the front door was deadlocked and she couldn't find the keys. Peter McVeigh, a neighbour to whom the Clarks had given a spare set of keys, heard the commotion and let the crew in. Despite attempts at resuscitation, it was too late. Christopher was taken to Macclesfield Hospital at 10.03pm. Further attempts were made to intubate him, but he was pronounced dead at 10.40pm.

A post-mortem was conducted on 16 December by Dr Alan Williams, the local Home Office pathologist; photographs were taken by the police. Williams's report referred to 'a small split and slight bruising into the frenulum [inner lip]' and some bruising on the legs, injuries he decided were consistent with resuscitation attempts by hospital staff - as did Dr Jane Cowan, the hospital's consultant paediatrician, who had first seen Christopher. After examining the lungs, Dr Williams certified that the child had died of a lower respiratory tract infection. Some cultures and organ samples were taken and kept. Christopher was cremated.

Sally Clark had been distraught over her son's death - suspiciously so, according to the prosecution; as distraught as might be expected, according to Dr Cowan. The Clarks decided that the best way to overcome their grief was to have another child. Harry was born on 29 November 1997, three weeks premature, but seemingly entirely healthy. Steve, a keen sportsman, had suffered an injury playing badminton and had his right leg in plaster, so the Clarks hired Lesley Kerrigan, 28, a registered nanny, to work full-time for them as a home-help during the early weeks of the baby's life. 'There was always a nice atmosphere at the house,' Kerrigan recalled. 'It wasn't like work really.'

The Clarks participated in the CONI (Care of the Next Infant) scheme, a programme of support routinely offered to parents who have lost one child through cot death (or Sudden Infant Death syndrome). Like all children in the scheme, Harry had a full medical examination at 12 days, conducted at Macclesfield Hospital by Dr Ian Spillman, a consultant paediatrician.

The parents were given resuscitation training, growth charts to record the baby's progress, and a thermometer to ensure the correct ambient temperature in the bedroom. They were also given an apnoea alarm to monitor respiration; this would sound if the baby stopped breathing. (Harry's alarm seems to have been faulty; Sally Clark says it often sounded, even when there was no apparent problem with the child.) Regular support was provided by a health visitor, Elizabeth McDougall, who paid weekly visits to the home.

In her statement to police McDougall said she found Harry to be well and making steady progress, and described Sally Clark as 'coping well with breast-feeding [and] happy and delighted with her new baby'. On 6 January Harry was again seen by Dr Spillman, who detected a heart murmur and referred him to Dr Kevin Walsh, a consultant paediatric cardiologist at Alder Hay Hospital, who diagnosed it as a benign abnormality.

On the morning of 26 January 1998 Sally Clark took Harry out in his pushchair to the local shops.

At about 2pm she rang the health centre and told Elizabeth McDougall the apnoea monitor had repeatedly sounded; at about 3.45pm McDougall arrived with a new one. Later, Sally took the baby to Wilmslow Health Centre, where he was vaccinated against diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus and polio; Sally was herself given a post-natal check-up by Dr Kathleen Case. In her statement the doctor said there were 'no problems' and described Sally as 'cheerful'.

Steve arrived home from work at about 8pm. (The time of his return became an issue at the trial.) Nearly 90 minutes later, he was in the kitchen, preparing a feed for the child, when his wife screamed from their upstairs bedroom. Harry was slumped forward in his bouncy chair and had turned blue. An ambulance arrived nine minutes after Sally Clark's 9.27pm emergency call, and found Steve desperately attempting resuscitation, following advice being given down the telephone line by the emergency services. Harry, though, did not respond; he was taken to Macclesfield Hospital and was pronounced dead at 10.41pm. That the two children were taken ill and died at almost exactly the same time was something the prosecution made much of.

In view of this second death, Dr Jane Cowan told police it was essential that the post-mortem be conducted by a specialist paediatric pathologist. So did the Clarks. However, it was again carried out by the general pathologist, Dr Alan Williams, in the presence of police. (Though the inquiry held after the case of Beverley Allitt - who, in 1993, was convicted of four murders and three attempted murders of young children at Grantham Hospital - recommended that post-mortems on infants should be carried out only by paediatric pathologists, this recommendation has never been implemented. Quite simply, there are not enough trained paediatric pathologists in the country.)

Dr Williams found tears in the brain, 'severe injuries' to the spine, one dislocated rib and what he described as a 'possible old fracture' of another. In his report he concluded that 'the spinal injuries and lesions in the brain and eyes are those that would be expected from non-accidental injury' and that Harry had been 'shaken on several occasions over several days'.

When police arrived at Hope Cottage on 23 February 1998, Sally Clark assumed that they had come to give her information about the cause of Harry's death and began making them cups of tea. Instead, they had come to arrest her and Steve on suspicion of murder. Taken in for questioning at Wilmslow police station, both were naive enough - and shocked enough - to waive their rights to a solicitor. (Although both were solicitors themselves, neither had any expertise in criminal law.)

The answers Sally Clark gave during these interviews (two 40-minute sessions that morning, and a 40-minute session in the afternoon) provided the police (and, in due course, the media) with material that was used against her - material that the Clarks are adamant was wilfully misinterpreted. For example, Sally told police she had been 'a wee bit apprehensive' about a business trip to Glasgow Steve had planned for 27 January, the day after Harry's death. The prosecution used this remark to claim that she was unable to cope with the possibility of her husband's absence and had therefore murdered Harry to prevent his departure; in fact, she was worried that 'because of the jabs' Harry had had on the afternoon of 26 January, he might suffer an adverse reaction.

Sally Clark also spoke to the police about her drinking. She had, she told them, become depressed after the move to Hope Cottage, where she felt isolated. As she explained, 'London was the farthest north I'd ever been. I got very low and cried an awful lot during that period.' She began drinking to alleviate her loneliness - according to her, 'two or three gin and tonics on a Saturday afternoon'. In 1996 she had, she said, a couple of 'binges' during the early stages of her pregnancy with Christopher.

The following year she became more emotionally unsteady - 'It was when I became pregnant with Harry that I actually began to grieve more for Christopher' - and her drinking frequently got out of control. Indeed, in April 1997, four months after Christopher's death and two months into her next pregnancy, she sought psychiatric help at Cheadle Royal Hospital. But she was not, she told the police, drinking by the end of the pregnancy, nor in the weeks prior to Harry's death - bar a couple of Christmas Day drinks; she had checked with the midwife that this would have no deleterious effect on her breast-feeding.

This, though, was peripheral; Dr Williams's post-mortem report spoke of 'non-accidental injury', and on 27 February Dr Williams took slides of Harry's eyes to Michael Green, emeritus professor of forensic pathology at Sheffield University. Williams believed he had detected retinal haemorrhages in both eyes; Green confirmed this finding. Together with the tears in the brain and the spinal injuries, these haemorrhages were the crucial evidence that the baby had been shaken to death.

Green and Williams then re-examined the preserved tissues of the first child, Christopher. They found that there was both extensive fresh bleeding and old bleeding in the lungs. This, taken together with the damage to the frenulum, led them to the new conclusion that Christopher had been smothered, and these findings were passed to the police. On 2 July 1998 Sally Clark was charged with the murders of both children. (The Crown Prosecution Service decided not to proceed against Steve Clark who had, after all, not been present when Christopher died.) On 29 November, while the case against her was in preparation, Sally Clark gave birth to a third son, who cannot be named for legal reasons.

At the committal hearing at Macclesfield Magistrates Court on 24 May 1999 a difference of opinion between Dr Williams and Professor Green, both of whom were appearing for the Crown, emerged. Although Williams maintained there had been fresh blood in Christopher's lungs, Professor Green now disagreed, saying 'the lungs showed no evidence of recent significant haemorrhage'. If this was the case, then smothering was an unlikely explanation of Christopher's death.

However, the damage to the prosecution case was repaired by another expert witness, Sir Roy Meadow, emeritus professor of paediatrics and child health at St James' University Hospital, Leeds. He said he knew of other proven cases of smothering in which there had been no fresh blood in the lungs: he agreed to provide the defence with his research data on these cases. He also said the chances of two deaths like Christopher's and Harry's occurring naturally in a family were one in a million - he was later to produce the even more damning statistic of 73 million to one. The magistrate concluded that there was a case to answer in respect of both children; Sally Clark was committed to face trial on Monday 11 October 1999.

On Friday 8 October - just three days before the trial - the defence team finally managed to obtain the vitally important slides that Professor Green said showed retinal haemorrhages of Harry's eyes. At Moorfields Eye Hospital in London Professor Philip Luthert, consultant histo-pathologist at the Institute of Ophthalmology - who had been called in by the defence as an expert witness - and Professor Green examined the slides. They could find no retinal haemorrhages; Green rang the Crown's QC, Robin Spencer, and told him this.

It was the Crown's case that Harry had been shaken to death. The so-called 'classic triangle' of injuries in baby-shaking cases is damage to the spine, tearing in the brain and retinal haemorrhages. By this stage, another prosecution expert, Dr Christine Smith, consultant neuropathologist at the Royal Hallamshire Hospital in Sheffield, had examined the slides and said that there was no evidence either of tears in the brain or of damage to the spinal cord. With the elimination of the retinal haemorrhages, the crucial evidence had evaporated; shaking was not the cause of Harry's death. Professor Luthert expected - 'naively', as he has put it to one journalist - that the charge would be dropped.

But Robin Spencer opened his case on the basis that Harry had been either shaken or smothered. By the end of the trial he was asserting that Harry and Christopher had both been smothered, and that both had also been the victims of assaults prior to death. He may have been encouraged by some new evidence from Sir Roy Meadow, who had effectively once again ridden to the prosecution's rescue. The week before the case was due to start, Meadow had made a fresh statement to police. In this he said that on the basis of a new, then-unpublished government report - the Confidential Enquiry into Stillbirths and Deaths in Infancy (CESDI) - to which he was writing the preface, the risk of these two deaths having occurred by chance was one in 73 million.

For long periods in the Chester courtroom, the case consisted of erudite discussion of intra-alveolar haemorrhages, haemosiderin-laden macro- phages and other such abstruse medical arcana. Amid this morass of expert testimony, Meadow's one in 73 million statistic seemed luminously clear, and the figure was cited in every national newspaper. Meadow further told the court that, put another way, this meant that a British family would suffer by chance an unexplained double child-death 'about once every hundred years'.

This was certainly substantially simpler to take in than the arguments about death by smothering. The over riding problem with trying to ascertain death by smothering is that both the presence and the absence of a variety of physical signs can be consistent with smothering. Indeed, Professor Meadow has maintained - in, for example, Unnatural Sudden Infant Death (Archives of Disease in Childhood, 1999) - that one of the characteristic features of deaths caused by smothering is that 'the corpse appears normal'. Certainly, in Harry's case, no signs of smothering were discerned either by medical staff or at post-mortem.

Another difficulty arose from the fact that all medical evidence in both cases was based on the post-mortems carried out by Dr Williams, and the tissue samples and slides he had prepared. Considerable doubt was cast upon his findings from both sides. Both prosecution and defence experts told the jury that some of his key findings at Harry's post-mortem - for example, the tears in the brain, the subdural haemorrhage in the spine and the retinal haemorrhages - had never existed. Defence witness Jem Berry, professor of paediatric pathology at the University of Bristol, asked the court: 'How can the prosecution rely on Williams's findings when every time we try to confirm them it proves impossible? I have never before been involved in a case where so many of the original findings either failed to exist or crumbled to dust upon critical examination.'

The prosecution's new position - that Harry had been smothered - was hardly helped by Williams's evidence at committal that there was no pathological evidence that Harry had been smothered. At trial, however, Williams said he had noted scleral haemorrhages on the backs of Harry's eyes, something he had seen in cases of smothering since Harry's death. There was no reference to scleral haemorrhages in his post-mortem report. Nor, it was agreed in the Court of Appeal, was there yet anything in the world's medical literature to associate such a finding with smothering.

Williams's post-mortem, on which the prosecution was basing its assertion that Harry had suffered earlier episodes of abuse, also referred to one 'possible' fractured and one dislocated rib. However, other expert witnesses commented on the absence of damage to the surrounding tissue - something that would have been expected if previous abuse had taken place.

For the prosecution, Dr Jean Keeling, consultant paediatric pathologist at the Royal Hospital for Sick Children, Edinburgh, said she 'could not exclude the possibility' that the rib damage was caused by the dissection of the body during post-mortem. There had, too, been no visible sign of injury to either child during his lifetime. No one, including Lesley Kerrigan, the Clarks' home-help, ever witnessed Sally Clark harming or ill-treating her children. No one who saw her with them suggested that she was anything other than an ordinary, caring, devoted mother.

When taken to hospital, both children were seen by the medical and nursing staff, the ambulancemen and also police officers. None saw any marks or bruising on the children. The photographs of the supposed bruises on Christopher's body were of very poor quality. Nor, as is normal practice in paediatric pathology, had Dr Williams cut into the bruises in order to obtain histological confirmation that they actually were bruises. The tear to the inner lip could have resulted from the use of a laryngoscope during frantic attempts to resuscitate the child at hospital; in fact, that was precisely the explanation originally given to police by Dr Cowan, the hospital paediatrician.

There was, however, the question of the fresh blood in Christopher's lungs - not referred to in Williams's original post-mortem but now of immense importance. On this matter, Professor Green changed his opinion once again. He now said that there had indeed been fresh bloodstaining, and explained he had given erroneous evidence to the contrary in the magistrates' court because he 'hadn't had time to look at the file properly'.

The defence experts maintained that smothering was merely one of several theoretical possibilities for this finding. Among these, of course, was the nosebleed suffered by Christopher in 1996. The prosecution had disputed it ever occurred. In fact, it was even suggested that Steve Clark had fabricated it in order to explain away the old haemorrhaging in the lungs - although the invention, in 1996, of an incident that would help to explain a pathological finding made two years later would have demonstrated a rare prescience. While the prosecution finally accepted there had been a nosebleed, it was hypothesised that it was indicative of a previous attempt by Sally Clark to smother her child. There was no evidence to support such an assertion.

In fact, the nosebleed may have been extremely important. There were altogether nine scientific experts for the prosecution and defence, and of those nine, only three advanced possible causes of death. For the defence, Tim David, professor of child health and paediatrics at the University of Manchester, held that Christopher was very ill before he died. He said that the nosebleed had actually been very significant and, together with abnormal readings from Christopher's blood tests (which showed unusually high levels of sodium and glucose), indicated that he may have died of a rare lung illness, idiopathic pulmonary haemosiderosis. Only Dr Williams and Professor Meadow stated unequivocally that the children had died unnatural deaths. The others, including Professor Green, said the deaths should be termed 'unascertained'.

With the medical evidence in such disarray, the prosecution - and, later, the Court of Appeal - put great weight on more circumstantial evidence. In her police interviews, for instance, Sally Clark was asked to describe precisely how she saw Harry when she raised the alarm; according to the prosecution, it would have been physically impossible for the child to have been 'slumped' in the position she supposedly demonstrated. But, although there was a transcript of what Sally Clark said during questioning, there was no adequate pictorial record taken of the child's position as she demonstrated it, and she denied that the description offered by the prosecution accurately represented her demonstration.

An important part of the prosecution case revolved around the similarities in the two deaths. Robin Spencer argued that both children were found by Sally Clark, in the same room, in the same bouncy chair, at approximately the same time of day, a time when, statistically, babies are less likely to die natural deaths. (Most sudden, natural deaths of infants occur between midnight and 11am.) Both were about the same age. On each occasion, she was alone with the child. On the first, her husband was away; in Harry's case, he was about to go on a business trip; the implication was that she was so fragile that she murdered the children to ensure Steve's presence. The defence countered that these alleged coincidences were either meaningless or simply wrong - Christopher, for instance, was in his Moses basket.

As important, it turned out, was exactly when Steve returned on the day of Harry's death. After their police interviews, Steve and Sally Clark realised they had given different times for Steve's arrival home. She had said about 7.30pm; he'd put it at 5.30. No matter, the issue could be resolved; with his leg in plaster, Steve had been using taxis to take him to and from work. The receptionist at his office confirmed in writing that she had ordered his taxi home that day at 4.45pm. That appeared to clinch the matter, and he and Sally both gave evidence at trial that he had arrived home at about 5.30.

Only during the latter stages of the trial did they discover that this was wrong; the defence team reinvestigated and realised that the receptionist had made a mistake: Steve had arrived home much later than he originally thought. The prosecution argued that he had given dishonest evidence in order to reduce the amount of time that Sally Clark had been alone with Harry. Indeed, the Court of Appeal subsequently described this point as of 'the greatest significance'. It was, though, the defence that had clarified the matter and, in doing so, confirmed what Sally Clark had said in her original police interview.

Yet however muddled areas of the case appeared to be, there was that one towering piece of evidence: Professor Meadow's one in 73 million statistic. Summing up, the judge, Mr Justice Harrison, explained to the jury that the figure came from a forthcoming 'very thorough research study, [a] government-funded report'. Although he did explain that 'we do not convict people in these courts on statistics', he also emphasised that the statistics appeared 'compelling', and so this 'may be part of the evidence to which you attach some significance'. He reiterated Meadow's remark that 'there is a chance of two SIDS in the same family happening once every hundred years'. To the jury, it must have seemed as if innocence was a statistical impossibility. Sally Clark was convicted by majority verdicts on each count of murder.

Alas, professor meadow's statements appear not to be as rock-solid as they seemed. He never did provide the research data on the absence of blood in the lungs in other proven cases of smothering that he had promised the defence; after some delay, he explained that his secretary had mistakenly shredded it. Nor did his famous statistic survive informed criticism outside the courtroom. It was, statisticians said, flawed; according to Professor Philip Dawid, it 'had no basis at all'; and those whose research had been used for the CESDI report declared themselves unhappy with the way Meadow had used their work. When the report was finally published, it stated that a family suffering one unexplained death was at greater risk of a second, and that there had been five double 'unascertained' child-deaths in Britain in the previous three years.

When the case went to appeal, however, Lord Justice Henry, Mrs Justice Bracewell and Mr Justice Richards were not swayed by the fresh defence evidence. Giving their verdict on 2 October 2000, they accepted that Meadow's one in 73 million statistic was wrong but called it 'a sideshow'; they upheld the convictions, describing the remaining evidence as 'overwhelming'. Sally Clark will remain in prison for a very long time.

Meanwhile, on 7 February this year The Daily Telegraph reported that the prosecution of a dentist and anaesthetist for the manslaughter of a five-year-old girl who had died in the dentist's chair had collapsed. It emerged that the pathologist who had conducted the original post-mortem had made a mistake. The pathologist was Dr Alan Williams.

1 May 2001: [UK News] Solicitor tackles system from the inside
3 October 2000: [UK News] Husband to fight on as solicitor loses appeal over baby murders
18 July 2000: [UK News] Mother convicted of baby murders 'on false evidence'
31 December 1999: [UK News] 'Statistical error' in child murder trial
10 November 1999: [UK News] Solicitor guilty of killing babies
10 November 1999: [UK News] Mother's happy life was sham
27 October 1999: [UK News] Solicitor could not have killed our sons, says Solicitor could not have killed our sons, says
26 October 1999: [UK News] I did not kill my babies, says weeping solicitor
13 October 1999: [UK News] Lawyer 'murdered her babies'


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