Silence in Court: British defendants in shaken baby cases look to US for help

This piece was originally published with The Justice Gap.   ‘I’ve been contacted by three or four families in the last three or four months, desperately looking for help,’ says Dr John Plunkett. From his farm deep in the Minnesota countryside, high-speed Internet can’t always be relied upon. But Dr Plunkett, a retired forensic pathologist who has been instrumental in challenging the science behind so-called Shaken Baby Syndrome, is receiving messages from British families struggling to find experts prepared to give evidence on their behalf in court. ‘There’s nobody that’s willing to testify,’ he claims. Back in March last year, Dr Waney Squier was banned from practising in the UK when the General Medical Council (GMC) ruled that she had given irresponsible and misleading evidence in court. As reported on the Justice Gap, Michael Birnbaum QC criticised the ruling as a ‘bizarre combination of the apparently one-sided and the obviously inept’ …

A second inconvenient truth

I  It has taken around fifty years for the Aral Sea to parch. If you look at satellite images of the Kazakh-Uzbek border today, it is as though a half-bruised eyelid has drowsed shut across tens of thousands of kilometres of water. Lake Chad – on the margins of Niger, Chad, Nigeria and Cameroon – is next. Since the 1960s, it has shrivelled by 90 per cent. Roughly half of that reduction in size is attributed to climate change, but the truth is that scientists and analysts find themselves all at subjunctives with such figures. This isn’t just an ecological calamity. It’s also symptomatic of what will be one of the most persistent human rights challenges of this century. The cradle of mankind is starting to look more like a cemetery. Take Niger, a country that finds itself at the very top or the very bottom of almost every index …

The Great British break-off

It’s no longer fashionable to wonder whether the latest Great British sporting achievement might—in fact—be the last. Yet as Andy Murray, a Scot in Saltire blue, chipped the ball delicately over the head of David Goffin to claim Britain’s first Davis Cup for 79 years, that insistent question was the only thing that returned. For the team of two Scots and two Englishmen had prevailed on Belgian soil, in the heartland of the European Union: the place that is likely to be pivotal in determining whether there will still be a British team at international championships like this in 79 years’ time. The ‘Scottish question’ was answered over a year ago in a September 2014 referendum, with around 55 per cent of those north of Berwick-upon-Tweed voting to stay in the United Kingdom. Despite this, David Cameron’s election promise of a referendum on EU membership—prompted largely by Euroscepticism both within …