Jane Wynne

THE paediatrician Jane Wynne, who has died aged 64, was an internationally known authority on child abuse, working in Leeds with her contemporary Christopher Hobbs.

The lives of both were for a time blighted by the notorious Cleveland child abuse scandal of 1987, but it was perceptions of guilt by association rather than any direct involvement of theirs which accounted for it.

The Cleveland case centred on a paediatrician who diagnosed 121 cases of suspected child abuse on Teesside. Eventually 96 of them were dismissed by the courts. The affair resulted in a public inquiry conducted by Dame Elizabeth Butler-Sloss which found Jane and Christopher Hobbs blameless.

Born in Leicester, Jane was the elder daughter of John and Margaret Wynne. Her father, an agricultural economist, moved to Leeds University in the 1950s. Jane went to Lawnswood High School. She was a bright student and a good all-rounder, her strongest sports being swimming, tennis and squash which she played at county level.

She went to Leeds University where she gained honours in medicine and was soon specialising in paediatrics. She was later appointed a senior registrar in the south of England.

After marrying Dr Simon Currie in 1976, she moved back to Leeds as lecturer in the university's department of paediatrics. There she ran clinics for handicapped children and joined Michael Buchanan, senior lecturer, in the field of child abuse in which he had been a pioneer.

In 1984, she was appointed a consultant community paediatrician attached to Leeds General Infirmary, but also attending St James's Hospital.

She and Christopher Hobbs ran courses there attended by paediatricians and other professionals for the identification and management of abuse, the essence of which was teamwork by doctors, social workers, nurses and police.

A paediatrician from Middlesbrough attended one such course, but subsequently ignored the importance of professionals moving forward as a team, even if this sometimes meant leaving children at risk while the appropriate procedures were carried out.

The failure to implement the recommended practice did not, however, prevent Jane and Christopher Hobbs from being caught up in the ensuing scandal.

Newspapers and magazines were critical, and few fellow professionals were willing to back the Leeds pair; Cleveland MP Stuart Bell was a fierce critic and for Jane it was a dismal episode which lasted until the Butler-Sloss inquiry published its findings, which approved of the practices being followed in Leeds.

Jane became a council member of the NSPCC and joined its Board of Trustees; she also worked in the British Association for the Study and Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect. With others, she and Christopher Hobbs were instrumental in establishing the Child Protection Special Interest Group and the British Association for Community Child Health. The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health eventually accepted that dealing with child abuse was a matter for all paediatricians, who needed to be aware of correct management and practice.

For her work with abused children, in 1994 Jane received an honorary doctorate from Leeds Metropolitan University and in 2003 she was made an honorary trustee of the NSPCC.

She retired in 1999, but continued to teach on courses until 2003. She is survived by her husband, a retired neurologist, a daughter Rosamund, son Martin and her sister Ruth.