27 Med. Sci. & L. 1 (1987)

handle is hein.journals/mdsclw27 and id is 1 raw text is: 

Med. Sci. Law (1987) Vol. 27, No. 1 Printed in Great Britain


Editor, Medicine, Science and  the Law

The  sudden  tragic death of Professor H. R. M.
Johnson   (Obituary  p.  72)  has  robbed   the
London   scene of yet another medico-legist. He
was one  of the leading exponents of his art and
an  ardent  believer in  his specialty. At  this
moment   in  time neither  London,  British nor
International legal medicine can afford this loss.
Surely it is time for our political masters to realise
that in a very short period of time, retirement or
death will deplete the number of full-time trained
academic  forensic pathologists to a dangerously
low  level. There will undoubtedly   be such  a
paucity of reliable forensic experts that a medico-
legal service will be impossible to maintain. It is
almost 35 years since Professor John Glaister Jnr
drew  attention to this situation, but as usual no
one believed it could happen in London. To those
in the specialty the situation in respect of the
availability and quality of medico-legal experts
gives  far greater  cause  for anxiety  than  is
appreciated, for  properly  trained experts are
rapidly  diminishing  and   so  are  the  future
prospects of the postgraduate training.

  In a new  publication by two members   of the
Academy   namely  Tom   Sargent and  Peter Hill,
Criminal  Trials, the Search for Truth (Fabian
Research  Series No. 348) attention is drawn to
the increasing possibilities of forensic evidence
and the apparent inability of our police and legal
procedures to keep up with scientific progress. A
past president of the Academy,  Professor Keith
Mant,  in his Douglas Kerr Memorial  Lecture in
1985  to  the British Association  of  Forensic
Medicine stated 'We are, after all, the servants of
the court, and not of either the prosecution or the
defence  and  we  should  always  maintain our
reputation for impartiality.'
  Sargent and  Hill rightly or wrongly interpret
Professor Mant's  statement as his reflecting on
the increasing fear among  forensic pathologists
and  other non-medical  scientific witnesses that
they are ill used in our courts and that their role
has sometimes  become the opposite of what they
would  wish it to be.


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