Michael Steele, Jack Whomes and Jeffrey Cattell, all claim they are miscarriages of justice.

Paula Lannas a senior Home Office pathologist, carried out the examination of the dead bodies for which they have been convicted of murder. Her methods of investigation have been described as  "demonstrating a continuing pattern of inadequate and unsatisfactory examinations and breaches of accepted forensic pathology practice". The Home Office abandoned an investigation into her methodology and passed it to the General Medical Council, who are sitting tight on it.

Nat Cary, the senior Home Office forensic pathologist said, "It may be a cynical view, but I think they want to keep the lid on things,".

So where is the Crown Prosecution Service in all this, not a word from them, no investigation of what has happened, no enquiry, no review of any of the cases which have put people in jail for life.


Murder cases face review over 'mistakes' by pathologist

Lois Rogers, Medical Correspondent

The Sunday Times - Britain, September 22, 2002


Dozens of convictions for murder and other violent crimes may have to be re-examined because of alleged mistakes made by a senior Home Office pathologist.

At least one of the deaths reported as a murder by the forensic specialist Paula Lannas may have been a suicide, according to other experts.

A Home Office inquiry into 18 complaints against Lannas was abandoned last year and passed to the General Medical Council. Last week the GMC was unable to say when the complaint would be dealt with.

"It may be a cynical view, but I think they want to keep the lid on things," said Nat Cary, the senior Home Office forensic pathologist who investigated the recent murders of Jessica Chapman and Holly Wells. "Starting on this may lead to the need to investigate lots of cases."

It is thought to be the first time the performance of a member of the elite panel of 30 Home Office pathologists has ever been formally questioned. The Home Office began a "close monitoring" of Lannas's work in 1996. During the disciplinary tribunal last year she was accused of "demonstrating a continuing pattern of inadequate and unsatisfactory examinations and breaches of accepted forensic pathology practice".

The Home Office refused to say why their inquiry collapsed without reaching a conclusion, but it is believed that the three colleagues of Lannas recruited to adjudicate felt unhappy about sitting in judgment on one of their number.

At least six prisoners serving murder sentences have complained that their convictions hinged on evidence provided by Lannas which they believe was flawed.

One of them is Jeffrey Cattell, 41, who is serving a life sentence at Swaleside prison in Kent for the 1997 murder of James Milne, 50, of Maidstone. Cattell is being supported in his appeal by Cary and other pathologists and lawyers who have agreed to provide their services for nothing.

Cattell has also been in correspondence with the eminent retired pathologist Professor Bernard Knight, Guy Rutty, professor of forensic pathology at Leicester University, and Bill Hunt, a former chairman of the Home Office committee which monitors standards of pathologists.

Knight, who has described some of the methods used by Lannas as "extremely unreliable" and "intrinsically inaccurate", is the author of Britain's principal forensic pathology textbook. The book contains a picture of a suicide case found in similar circumstances to the body of the man Cattell was jailed for killing.

"In addition to the suicide question, one of the other principal concerns in Cattell's case is the forensic evidence about the time of death," said Hunt. "The death probably occurred considerably earlier than Lannas said, in which case the evidence does not add up and there may have been a miscarriage of justice."

Lannas, who in the past has said she always acted "properly and professionally", last week refused to comment on the investigation into her practice. She carried out 7,311 post-mortem examinations between 1990 and 1998 and has given evidence in high-profile cases including the death in 1995 of Leah Betts, 18, from an ecstasy overdose, and the murder of three gangland drug dealers found in a car in Rettenden, Essex, the same year.

Cattell now hopes the expert opinions he has collected challenging Lannas's evidence will be sufficient to get his case re-opened. "I have had the utmost difficulty getting any official documents relating to these investigations," he said.