Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Expert Pathologist to be sued - a sign of much needed accoutability ?

A Forensic pathologist faces being sued over flawed evidence.

About time these experts were taken to task for their 'evidence giving' in cases. There has to be a lot more accountability in their claims - which are invariably used by professional bodies & their respective legal defence unions to kill off negligence claims & other damages actions.

Did you know that most or all of the 'Expert Witnesses' on the Law Society of Scotland's expert witness list, are insured by the same insurers as insure the legal profession ?

Expert Witnesses insured by the same firm which insure crooked lawyers ? .. that's a bit of a conflict of interest then, isn't it - especially considering what has been revealed about those same insurance firms .... indulging in all sorts of fraudulent practices, even intimitating witnesses into withdrawing cases & testimony ..

Read on for the article, from the Sunday Herald, at :

Top pathologist faces legal action
By Liam McDougall, Home Affairs Editor

A FORENSIC pathologist whose flawed evidence was criticised in an official inquiry is facing legal action over a case in which two Scots were wrongly jailed for murder.

Expert testimony given by Dr Michael Heath in a case against Victor Boreman and Malcolm Byrne, from Ayrshire, and their co-defendant Michael Byrne, has been described as “discredited” by an appeal judge.

The prosecution claimed the three had murdered Jonathan Reid, 51, in his London flat and had then set the room alight in a bid to hide evidence of their crime. They were said to have killed Reid during an argument in April 1996.

Heath, a Home Office pathologist for 14 years, said the victim had been unconscious after the assault and may have “drowned in his own blood” because of injuries to his face . But at an appeal earlier this year, it was ruled there was clear evidence that, while the three had assaulted Reid, he had died accidentally in a fire several hours later. The appeal led to the convictions being overturned.

Last night Boreman said: “My lawyers are putting together a civil case now, but this is not about money. We spent 10 years in jail for a crime we did not commit and there is evidence they knew the case was suspect from the beginning.

“I want Heath and others involved in this case to have a taste of what they put me through.”

In January, Heath withdrew from police work after concerns were raised about him. Last month, he was criticised in a Home Office disciplinary tribunal examining his conduct in two other cases, following complaints by his peers.

The first involved Steven Puaca, who was found guilty of smothering his partner. Two other pathologists concluded she had died from a drugs overdose.

In a second case, Heath concluded that Kenneth Fraser had killed his girlfriend by hitting her over the head. Four other pathologists decided she had died falling downstairs.

A decision is expected this month on whether Heath, 58, should be struck off .

On Tuesday, a number of families who claim their relatives have been wrongly jailed because of Heath’s evidence will gather for a conference in Kent. It is expected they will call for dozens of cases involving Heath to be re-opened.

Heath’s position as a Home Office pathologist has led to him being involved in hundreds of post-mortems and criminal cases, including that of mother and daughter Lin and Megan Russell, murdered by Michael Stone in Kent, and Stuart Lubbock, who was found drowned in Michael Barrymore’s swimming pool.

Boreman is to travel to the meeting on Tuesday to speak about his case.

Maslen Merchant, Boreman’s lawyer, said Boreman’s case was a “serious” miscarriage of justice. He confirmed he was preparing a civil case, but could only proceed when the formal appeal court judgment became available.

“You can have an isolated incident that is a mistake, but there are serious questions to be asked here. This is not someone who got it slightly wrong. How many more are out there?

“It is horrendous that the state prosecuting authorities can bring evidence into court without, apparently, any sense of quality control.”

He added that a senior pathologist who looked at the Boreman case had warned that if it had been set as a student exam question, Heath would not have passed.

John McManus, of the Miscarriage of Justice Organisation in Scotland, which is supporting Boreman and his two co-accused, described the case as “deeply worrying”.

He added: “We need a full and transparent review of every case in which Heath was involved. We need to ensure no innocent man or woman is in jail.”

The Home Office would not comment.

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