Doctor released from abuse inquiry
Posted: 25th September 2013
A senior doctor whose life and career were for years blighted by unfounded child abuse accusations has finally been released from the shadow of suspicion.
The Court ruled that a General Medical Council (GMC) screening official’s view that the public interest demanded that the consultant gynaecologist and obstetrician should face a disciplinary inquiry in respect of accusations that dated back more than two decades was both ‘illogical’ and ‘plainly wrong’.
Allegations that he had sexually abused his 15-year-old step-daughter in 1990, when he was going through an acrimonious divorce, had at the time been fully investigated by police and social services before being discounted as 'malicious'. A much later complaint that he had abused his two-year-old grand-daughter had also been investigated and found to be unsubstantiated.
Nevertheless, in 2011, a GMC assistant registrar had re-opened the 1990 allegations and decided that the matter should be further investigated. Overturning that decision, the Court found that the official had been wrong to waive the normal rule that the GMC will not generally investigate alleged incidents that date back more than five years.
Noting that the step-daughter's accusations had been 'positively disbelieved' by those who investigated them at the time, the Court found that the deputy registrar's decision to revisit such 'stale' and ‘moribund’ allegations was 'illogical and unfair', particularly given the grave consequences for the consultant's career.
The official had failed to grasp the essential point that the reason for the delay in the allegations re-surfacing was that the case file had been closed for more than 20 years and the matter 'treated as dead'. Ordering an end to the GMC proceedings, the Court noted that it was a paradigm case for the application of the five-year rule.