The accusation that it was a "show trial" was being bandied around within minutes of the acquittal yesterday of London doctor Dhanuson Dharmasena and his co-accused Hasan Mohamed, in Britain's first prosecution for female genital mutilation.

That's going too far. But the sad truth is that this was a highly problematic case that appeared doomed almost from the start. Worse, it has been a distraction from efforts to bring genuine "cutters" to justice that has done nothing to protect the thousands of girls in this country at risk from this cruel practice.

That is because, as prosecutor Kate Bex candidly admitted in her opening statement to the jury at Southwark Crown Court, this was not a case involving the mutilation of a young girl in a "backstreet clinic" by an "uncaring" unqualified person.

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