Case dismissed against author of expert witness report

A disciplinary panel has dismissed allegations against the author of a damning study on the quality of expert witnesses...

By Chloe Smith
A disciplinary panel has dismissed allegations against the author of a damning study on the quality of expert witnesses in the family courts which had raised questions over the conduct of her research.

Professor Jane Ireland, a forensic psychologist at the University of Central Lancashire, was called to appear before the Health and Care Professions Council for a disciplinary hearing centring on a report she published in 2012.

She was accused of reaching conclusions that were not justified by the data and of threatening fellow psychologists with legal action if they did not withdraw complaints about her research.
But the panel yesterday dismissed the case against Ireland, finding that she had no case to answer in respect of all but one of the allegations.

After hearing evidence from Ireland, the panel rejected the remaining allegation, dismissing the entire case against her.

Ireland welcomed the decision, stating: ‘I have already been and remain deeply committed to high quality and raising standards in the profession.’

Her report, ‘Evaluating Expert Witness Psychological Reports: Exploring Quality’, was funded by the Family Justice Council and was highly influential when it was published.

It found that two-thirds of expert witnesses in family courts were ‘poor’ and that one-fifth of the authors of reports had no proper qualifications.

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