JUDGES have apologised for using the term "quack doctors" in a murder appeal decision, saying it was not their intention to refer to two witnesses.

The statement was made last week in an appeal court decision over the death of Paisley toddler Declan Hainey in March 2010.

His mother Kimberley's murder conviction was overturned at the Court of Appeal.

Professor Susan Black and Dr Craig Cunningham of Dundee University had given evidence during the murder trial.

Ms Black had told the court "Harris lines" in Declan's bones were evidence of malnutrition and neglect. Her report was backed by Mr Cunningham, although both accepted they did not have medical backgrounds.

The appeal judges' statement last week said: "It cannot be right for a trial judge to allow an obvious 'quack' doctor to speak to a subject in a supposed expert way in relation to which he has no qualifications."

This had been interpreted by some to refer to the witnesses.

However, the Judiciary of Scotland has apologised for the comments made by Lord Clarke, Lord Mackay of Drumadoon and Lord Drummond Young.

A statement said: "We regret our opinion in the case has caused concern to the two forensic anthropologists who gave evidence at the trial."

They said they were referring to the law in general rather than the specifics of the Hainey case.

It continued: "We understand the statement ... that 'it cannot be right for a trial judge to allow an obvious quack doctor to speak to a subject in a supposed expert way in relation to which he has no qualifications' has been construed in certain press articles as referring to Professor Black and Dr Cunningham.

"We would like to make it clear that no such implication was ever intended.

"The statement at paragraph 49 is part of a general discussion of the law and is designed to illustrate one category of case where a judge should not allow evidence to go to the jury.

"It was not intended to refer to the facts of the case under consideration, nor does it refer to Professor Black and Dr Cunningham. We apologise to them for having failed to make that clear."

Meanwhile, it has emerged Mrs Hainey received almost £140,000 in legal aid. She was given £130,715.93 in taxpayer funding at her trial and received a further £8970 to pay for her legal team at her successful appeal.

The figures could rise further as legal aid claims can be submitted up to 12 weeks after the end of a hearing.

Scottish Conservative chief whip John Lamont said: "It is unbelievable an ill-equipped legal case has not only cost a toddler justice, but now the taxpayer tens of thousands."

Labour MSP Graeme Pearson, the ex-head of the Scottish Crime and Drug Enforcement Agency, added: "It seems dreadful the authorities are willing to spend that amount on legal aid but no effective intervention could be provided to protect this baby boy from the start."

A Scottish Legal Aid Board spokesman said: "In solemn criminal cases, legal aid is only available to those who meet a financial eligibility test and cannot afford to pay for their defence themselves.

"The amounts were for legal aid costs incurred by counsel and solicitors, and for solicitors' outlays during the complex initial five-week trial and the subsequent appeal.

"We only pay for work that has actually and reasonably been done and, where this is assessed as not being the case, payments will be reduced."