Waney Squier, a consultant neuropathologist at the John
Radcliffe hospital in Oxford, has been struck off the medical
register after being found to have given misleading expert evidence
in six court cases where infants died.
The case has caused some controversy as Ms Squier was not struck
off for the way in which she practised medicine or treated
patients, but rather for her behaviour at the trials for which she
was a witness. Ms Squier was found to have only used scientific
information which supported her theories, rather than being honest
and open about all theories in court.
Ms Squier graduated from the University of Leeds in 1972 and
specialised in neuropathology from the start of her career. In 1984
she took on the position as a Consultant Neuropathologist at the
John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford. She remained in this position
until 2016, when she was struck off the register.
Ms Squier was called as an expert witness in infant brain
pathology in a number of court cases. Initially, Ms Squier's
involvement was on the prosecuting side against parents accused of
causing Shaken Baby Syndrome. She was an advocate of the widely
accepted notion that a combination of three brain injuries in a
baby (known as 'the triad'), was sufficient evidence to
prove the baby had been shaken.
Dr Squier began to develop doubts about the scientific basis of
the syndrome, slowly becoming convinced that Shaken Baby Syndrome
might not exist, and that the triad could actually occur naturally
As a result, she appeared as a witness for the defence in six
trials between 2007 and 2010. A number of judges and practitioners
made allegations that Dr Squier misled courts and acted dishonestly
and irresponsibly by "cherry picking" research and
evidence. This formed the basis of the General Medical
Council's initial complaint with her, and why she was called
before the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service.
The Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service, the disciplinary arm
of the General Medical Council, found that it had no option but to
end Squier's medical career given her serial dishonesty.
It was found that Ms Squier provided deliberately misleading and
dishonest evidence in court, which had the potential to subvert the
course of justice. The GMC held that Dr Squier conducted herself in
a way that was demonstrative of her clinging to a theory so that in
fact her evidence was misleading and biased, and the GMC say that
when analysed, the evidence demonstrates that she must have known
that what she was doing was misleading and thus it was
dishonest." The MPTS found that Dr Squier's conduct was
incompatible with continued registration as a medical practitioner
and that erasure was the only appropriate sanction which would
maintain public confidence in the profession. The finding has
Dr Squier's supporters state that the scientific protocol
for her theories is sound and that she has been the victim of a
witch hunt because she has challenged the theories of the medical
establishment. On the other side, the GMC and its supporters state
that this case has nothing to do with the science of SBS, but
rather is to do with Squier's behaviour at the trials for which
she was a witness, where she is condemned as having only used
scientific information which supported her theories, rather than
being honest and open about all theories in court.
Dr Squier is expected to appeal the decision over the coming
This case acts as a stern reminder for expert witnesses in legal
proceedings that they have an overriding duty to assist the Court
on matters relevant to the expert's area of expertise and are
not an advocate for a party or a particular position.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.
Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.
The requirement to provide home care packages on a consumer directed care basis (CDC) commenced on 1 July 2015.
Some comments from our readers… “The articles are extremely timely and highly applicable” “I often find critical information not available elsewhere” “As in-house counsel, Mondaq’s service is of great value”
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).