John Whitting QC was instructed by Catherine Bennett and Rebecca Young of Capsticks to represent the Defendant Hospital in this high profile case.

Cerys Clements was less than an hour old when she collapsed on her mother’s breast and suffered severe hypoxic brain damage. Her parents claimed that she had suffocated on her mother’s breast and that they should have been advised by the midwifery staff at Queen Charlotte’s & Chelsea Hospital to keep Cerys’ nose clear and continuously to check that she was breathing. Following a week long trial in the High Court, which attracted significant media interest, Mrs. Justice May dismissed this claim and gave judgment for the Hospital.

In a lengthy and detailed ruling, Mrs. Justice May found that midwives in this situation were not obliged, in 2012 or now, to give such advice and that the care with which Cerys and her parents had been provided was entirely appropriate and consistent with the relevant NICE Guidelines. She concluded: ‘no one is to blame for Cerys’ collapse…The precise cause or causes of extremely rare events of sudden untoward postnatal collapse in newborns remain unknown. Although in some cases asphyxiation by lying prone, or up against the mother’s side or breast in skin to skin contact has been posited as a cause, these are not the only hypotheses which have been put forward in the literature; in a significant minority of cases the circumstances in which the baby has been found are suggestive of no apparent cause at all. I have concluded that Cerys’ collapse remains unexplained; the evidence has not demonstrated on the balance of probabilities that she was suffocated by her mother’s breast.

Read more on the case of Clements v Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust [2018] EWHC 2064 below: