The 17th Annual Grange Conference - Meet the Grange Conference Co-director

Spotlight on …..

Professor Keith Rix MPhil, LLM, MD, FRCPsych, Hon FFFLM

'Will he play his sax?'

Honorary Consultant Forensic Psychiatrist, Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust. Visiting Professor of Medical Jurisprudence, Institute of Medicine, University of Chester.
I have been involved with the Conference since we organised the first one at The George Hotel in Stamford in 2001 and, apparently, my role in organising this annual conference is one of the factors taken into account by Lawyer Monthly when the journal awards me ‘Forensic Psychiatry Expert of the Year’ as it has done for the last three years.

I prepared my first expert report as a trainee in about 1982 and I thrive on the challenge of communicating my knowledge and experience of psychiatry to those who administer justice through our courts and tribunals. I am fortunate that clinical practice in general adult psychiatry, forensic psychiatry and liaison psychiatry supplemented by thirty years as a prison visiting psychiatrist and locums in old age psychiatry, learning disability and prison in-reach have provided me with a rich experience that informs my expert witness work.  I continue to be passionate about my work and find my role as an expert witness so rewarding that I have been unable to retire completely.

I continue to use my contacts in the legal profession to assist the development of each year’s conference programme – the content is specifically designed to assist psychiatrists in keeping up to date with developments on the interface between psychiatry and the law.

This year’s conference will not only help you keep up to date as an expert psychiatric witness but it will provide you with important opportunities to learn from your colleagues and share your learning with them.

My personal conference highlights and recommendations

My experience of mentally disordered offenders goes back to 1966 when I first set foot in HMP Pentonville. These are people who suffer a double-whammy. They have to negotiate and survive a criminal justice system in which they are out of place and ill-served by its laws, rules and procedures. In the mental health services they often suffer discrimination. So I am very much looking forward to hearing Sir David Latham talk about the Justice charity’s report on the work of its mental health and fair trial working party.

With much regret, looking back over almost 40 years as an expert witness, I observe that in spite of Lord Woolf’s reforms the hired guns have not been driven out of town and problems with expert witness bias persist. So, I am keen to hear Northern Ireland’s Lord Chief Justice, Sir Declan Morgan, and Professor Nigel Eastman on the topic of bias.

One of the pleasures of being an expert witness is working with top of their league lawyers. Grenfell inquiry permitting, we should have with us Leslie Thomas QC on the subject of inquests. I am going to ask him to bring his saxophone with him. He is a devotee of John Coltrane, Count Basie and Charlie Parker. 

Going to trial with another psychiatrist instructed by the opposing party and feeding questions for cross-examination through the filters of solicitor and counsel, and sometimes also senior counsel in the form of a QC, is one of the most testing forms of peer review for an expert witness. At Ripley, we provide a smorgasbord of peer review: the opportunity for a confidential assessment of a report by another expert psychiatric witness, provided that you are willing to assess someone else’s report; an expert witness clinic at which you can confidentially discuss any aspect of your expert witness work with one of two experienced experts and also have time for a plenary report analysis session at which two of the Grange Conference trustees will be putting up an expert report for criticism. There is also plenty of time at breaks, over a drink in the bar and over meals to share expert witness stories that contribute to the maintenance and raising of expert witness standards and, often, also amuse.   

Posted by Alysha Waugh
Blog post currently doesn't have any comments.