UK

Tomlinson case pathologist denies errors in child cases

Dr Mohmed Saeed Sulema Patel, known as Freddy Patel
Image caption Charges in one of the four GMC cases against Mr Patel have now been dropped

The pathologist at the heart of a decision not to prosecute over the death of a man at the G20 protests has denied making errors in the post-mortems of two young children.

Dr Freddy Patel, 63, was attending a GMC "fitness to practise" hearing.

It was looking at four cases unrelated to the 2009 case of Ian Tomlinson, but one has now been dropped.

Mr Patel is accused of failing to spot a five-year-old girl who suffered a "serious fall" had been attacked.

He is is also charged with failing to preserve a blood clot he discovered on the brain of a dead four-week-old girl.

If found guilty of misconduct by the panel, the pathologist could be struck off.

Mr Patel has been allowed to continue to work during the investigation but has been barred from carrying out Home Office forensic pathology work.

In the G20 case, newspaper seller Ian Tomlinson, 47, died during the London riots after being pushed to the ground by a police officer.

Mr Patel - whose full name is Mohmed Saeed Sulema Patel - said that Mr Tomlinson had died from a heart attack.

Two other doctors contradicted this, instead concluding that the dead man had suffered internal bleeding, probably from his own elbow hitting his liver after he was pushed to the ground.

Head injury

Dr Patel told the General Medical Council (GMC) on Tuesday he had not made mistakes in the post-mortem examinations of the two children.

He said X-rays of the five-year-old girl, which were viewed by a radiologist, did not show any signs of abuse and there were no concerns from doctors treating the youngster at Great Ormond Street Hospital before she died in September 2002.

He said: "Any child death with a head injury, the first thought would be to treat it as suspicious. The coroner's officer, together with myself, would try to establish the possibility of this being caused by non-accidental injuries but no non-accidental injuries were suspected at all.

"The child had been in hospital for four days and there was ample opportunity for clinicians to examine the body thoroughly."

He added that the most thorough post-mortem would have revealed a fractured arm and shoulder-blade but he was asked to do only a less invasive examination.

Opiates poisoning

Dr Patel was later questioned by his barrister Adrian Hopkins QC as to whether he should have done more to preserve a blood clot he found while examining the body of a four-week-old Asian girl in August 2003.

He had taken the case as a "straightforward cot death" but soon found the blood clot on her brain and informed the coroner, saying she needed to be re-examined more thoroughly, he said.

But the child's body was moved from Ealing Hospital to Great Ormond Street and the post-mortem examination conducted by another pathologist, he said.

Meanwhile the GMC threw out a number of charges relating to a woman he said died of "opiates poisoning" without considering she had suffocated.

It agreed with experts who said 20-30% of pathologists would have reached the same conclusion.

In a letter to Mr Hopkins, the GMC said: "In consequence, the panel considers that his finding was not irresponsible. Nor does it consider that it fell below the standard expected of a competent Home Office-registered forensic pathologist undertaking a forensic examination and forensic post-mortem."

Dr Patel is also charged with changing his conclusions into the death of a woman at her family's request.

The hearing continues, and the GMC is expected to make its ruling next month.

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