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Ex-pathologist can still practise

PUBLISHED: 19:18 17 June 2009 | UPDATED: 10:13 06 July 2010

A FORMER Home Office pathologist who wrongly argued that a Lowestoft woman was murdered can continue to practise medicine, a disciplinary panel has ruled.

A FORMER Home Office pathologist who wrongly argued that a Lowestoft woman was murdered can continue to practise medicine, a disciplinary panel has ruled.

Dr Michael Heath, from south London, resigned from the Home Office register three years ago after he was strongly criticised for his conduct in the case of Jacqueline Tindsley - whose body was found in her bed at home in the town in March 2002.

He was also criticised for his involvement in the case of Mary Anne Moore.

The doctor carried out thousands of post-mortem examinations as a pathologist, including the high-profile murders of Lin and Megan Russell in 1996 and Stuart Lubbock, who was found dead in a pool at the home of TV presenter Michael Barrymore in 2001.

After telling a General Medical Council Fitness to Practise hearing last week that he had been "incredibly arrogant" in his dealings with the Moore and Tindsley cases, Heath said had no intention of returning to the field of forensic pathology and now limited himself to conducting post-mortems for inquests.

The panel, sitting in Manchester, found him guilty of serious misconduct after he admitted his work on both post-mortem examinations was inappropriate, inadequate, not of a standard expected of a medical practitioner and liable to bring the profession into disrepute.

However, the panel today found his fitness to practise was not impaired as the likelihood of repeating his misconduct was "extremely low".

Kenneth Fraser was cleared by an Old Bailey jury in 2002 of killing his partner Miss Moore, 56, at their south London home in May 2001 after her body was discovered at the bottom of a flight of stairs. Dr Heath gave evidence that her fatal injury was not caused by a fall but through an impact with a sharp-edged surface or object.

The doctor was called in to examine Miss Tindsley following her death in Lowestoft. Her partner, Stephen Puaca, was subsequently jailed at Norwich Crown Court later that year for her murder following Dr Heath's evidence that she was asphyxiated.

In November 2005 the conviction of Mr Puaca was quashed by the Court of Appeal as the judges ruled that there was no pathological evidence to support his view.

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