A former Staffordshire doctor has said he owed an apology to the late Sally Clark for going “too far” in his accusation that her husband murdered their two children.
Dr David Southall was found guilty of serious professional misconduct after he claimed it was “beyond reasonable doubt” that Steve Clark killed his sons, Christopher and Harry.
On Friday, he admitted the language he used was “injudicious” but he maintained he was right to call police after watching an interview Mr Clark gave to Channel 4’s Dispatches programme in 2000.
The controversial paediatrician appeared before a General Medical Council Fitness to Practise panel in a bid to remove his ban from practising in child protection work imposed following his comments about the Clark case.
Dr Southall, aged 60, believed Mr Clark had attempted to suffocate Christopher in a London hotel room following his description in the interview about how his child suffered a nosebleed and breathing difficulties.
His theory based on his own research was that nosebleeds in such situations in healthy infants could only be caused by inflicted trauma, the panel heard. He wrote a report on the Clarks after talking to social workers and police officers.
Questioned about using the phrase “beyond reasonable doubt” in the report, Dr Southall said: “The wording was inappropriate, it was too strong. By putting too strong a wording it can change the message you want to get across and that happened. I regret it. It was injudicious language and I am sorry for going that far.
Dr Southall also said he overstepped the mark in his assertion that if Mr Clark had smothered Christopher he must also have killed Harry who died 13 months later.
“I think the most important scientific information is related to that hotel room. I should have stopped at that and let others follow that line,” he told his counsel Ms Mary O’Rourke.
She asked him if he had any feelings of remorse or would like to apologise for what he did or said. Dr Southall replied: “I think the person I should apologise to is Mrs Clark. I feel if I had been more careful with the language used in my views this would have been more powerful than any appeal she was mounting at the time.”