The President of the Family Division, Andrew McFarlane, has organised a conference to investigate the shortage of medical expert witnesses inside the family courts.

McFarlane set up The Working Group on Medical Experts for the symposium, which will look at the results of a questionnaire about the shortage, which was sent to medical experts, the judiciary and the legal profession.

The conference, which will be chaired by Mr Justice Williams, also aims to find solutions to the lack of medical experts willing and able to give testimony in family law cases.

Judge David Basil Williams hit the headlines in February after becoming the first family court judge to use Twitter to ask a mother to return her son to the UK, after she fled with him during family court proceedings. The Family Division of the High Court, where David works, also issued a statement.

Ellie Yarrow-Sanders and her son Olly went missing after Ellie, who had alleged that Olly’s father was abusive, felt the court was not taking her allegations seriously. Ellie and Olly were tracked down one month later, in March.

Williams’ decision to tweet about the case through the Judicial Office’s Twitter account prompted a strong reaction from social media users, and the hashtags #ComeHomeOlly,  and   went viral.

David was appointed to the High Court in September 2017 and took up his position as a High Court judge in October 2017.

The symposium takes place on 4 July 2019, from 5-8pm, at Court 33, Royal Courts of Justice, Strand, London

People invited to attend the conference include medical experts, judges and legal professionals working in the family justice system. Places can be booked by emailing

As numbers are limited the organisers for the event say that places will be allocated and confirmed by Friday 28 June 2019.

Full details on the conference can be found here. 

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