Dr Zafar produces 5000 medico-legal reports per year. On this occasion, he reported on a claimant who had suffered one week of whiplash, and fully recovered thereafter. At the behest of the solicitor, the report (with the usual statements of truth and independence) was rewritten to say that the symptoms persisted, and gave a 6-8 month prognosis. These falsehoods were found to have been made recklessly rather than deliberately, as a result of the “industrialisation” of Dr Zafar’s medico-legal practice; he had not cared whether or not the court was misled.
When the deception was uncovered, further falsehoods followed, again supported by statements of truth. Convicted of contempt of court, he was sentenced to six months’ imprisonment, suspended for two years.
On appeal this was held to be unduly lenient; any sentence less than 9 months’ immediate imprisonment was inappropriately light.
There is a special circle of hell reserved for guilty experts, because of the reliance placed on expert witnesses, and because of the corresponding importance of the overriding duty which experts owe to the court: