Professor Southall. Sentence to be referred to the High Court
The case of a doctor who accused the husband of cleared solicitor Sally Clark of killing his two sons is to be reviewed by the high court because the punishment he was given may have been too lenient, it emerged today.Professor David Southall, 56, accused Steve Clark of killing his children Christopher and Harry after he watched a Channel 4 Dispatches documentary about the case in April 2000. In August, the General Medical Council’s professional conduct committee, sitting in Manchester, found the doctor guilty of serious professional misconduct. Prof Southall was told he would not be able to engage in any aspect of child protection work either in or outside the NHS for the next three years. The doctor, a consultant paediatrician, had effectively been working under this ban since 1999 after his employers at the University hospital of North Staffordshire in Stoke imposed it while he was suspended, and when complaints were lodged with the GMC. However, that punishment will now be re-examined over concerns that it may have been too lenient. A spokeswoman for the GMC said the case had been looked at by the independent regulatory body for healthcare professionals – the Council for Healthcare Regulatory Excellence (CHRE) – and been referred to the high court.Mrs Clark, 40, was convicted in 1999 of murdering her two sons but cleared by the court of appeal in December last year. Prof Southall wrote his report on the Clarks after viewing the Dispatches programme and talking to social workers and police officers. He later said it was “beyond reasonable doubt” that Mr Clark had killed his children and expressed concern for the Clarks’ remaining child. At the time of the GMC hearing, Denis McDevitt, chairman of the professional conduct committee, said it was in the “public interest” to take action, and the committee was “extremely concerned” the doctor had formed a “definite view” without interviewing the Clarks or seeing medical reports. At the time, Mr Clark said he hoped Prof Southall’s punishment sent out a “strong message” to doctors that “irresponsible and reckless allegations of child abuse against innocent parents” would not be tolerated.