Shaken baby syndrome: a fraud on the courts
By Heather Kirkwood
For decades, Waney Squier was the leading pediatric neuropathologist in the UK and possibly in the world. She was also the recipient of the prestigious 2016 Innocence Network Champion of Justice award. Yet her views on shaken baby syndrome – the very views that generated the Champion of Justice award – also brought her a six-month hearing before a panel of the General Medical Council (GMC) that removed her medical license, followed by an appeal that largely reversed the panel’s findings, but restricted her from testifying in the UK for three years. Only rarely in these proceedings, however, was the real issue addressed. The real issue was not whether Waney Squier used the right words in her testimony in six cases involving shaken baby diagnoses, but rather whether there was any evidentiary basis for the shaken baby diagnoses in these cases, or in others. The answer is straightforward: as confirmed by a comprehensive 2014-2016 review of the literature by the Swedish agency for health technology assessment, there is – and has never been – a valid research basis for shaken baby syndrome. Instead, the medical testimony that has been used – and is still being used – to destroy families and imprison parents and caretakers constitutes a fraud on the courts that has been perpetuated through intellectual inertia and intimidation. There is no better example than the trial of Waney Squier. Just as Watergate was a stain on the American presidency, the trial of Waney Squier – Waneygate – is a stain on the medical profession in the UK and elsewhere.
page: 66 – 89
Prometheus: Critical Studies in Innovation Volume 35, Issue 5