Sir, in relation to the letter by S. Thackeray (BDJ 221: 598), I wish to thank the writer for having read my article Orthodontic allegations raised against registrants by the GDC (BDJ 221: 291–294). However, I wish to clarify some misunderstandings in the letter.

The author of the letter appears dismayed at the emphasis the opinion piece places on the role of the 'Expert Witness for the GDC'. The phrase 'Expert Witness for the GDC' appears to have been taken out of context here. The original article clearly states 'Clinical advisors and experts assist the GDC with these investigations by providing independent clinical advice and opinion'. At no point was it suggested that the expert witness is being an advocate for the GDC or being partial in any way.

All expert witnesses will be aware that in many cases appearing before the GDC there will be an expert witness from the prosecution side and another from the defence side and these would be completely impartial irrespective of the side that had instructed them.

The author of the letter also states that expert bias can be displayed in many forms, not least the dogmatic adherence to 'Gold' or aspirational standards. I agree that I have, at times felt this has manifested itself when I have read previous transcripts by other expert witnesses. For this very reason, in the original article I say 'I felt the clinical advice and opinion I would provide would be realistic rather than idealistic'.

Finally, the author of the letter indicates that some experts may have demonstrated bias and as a result, certain allegations end up appearing on the GDC charge sheet. I wish to clarify that it is not the expert witness who devises the GDC charge sheet but the legal team at the GDC. The role of the expert witness is to provide independent, impartial advice on the allegations in the GDC charge sheet.

1. London