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GMC to hold secret proceedings against doctor for sharing his beliefs

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The General Medical Council (GMC) has today (11 June) decided to continue disciplinary proceedings against a Christian GP, despite the fact that the patient who made the complaint has refused for two years to give evidence face to face.

Dr Richard Scott, who works at Bethesda Medical Centre in Margate, Kent, was first reported to the GMC in September 2010 for discussing his Christian faith with a patient at the end of a private consultation.

Following the complaint, Dr Scott, was threatened with an Official Warning by the GMC, a blemish on his 28 years’ service as a professional.

As well as deciding to continue with the proceedings, the GMC has today also made the extraordinary decision that part of the case will be held in secret. The press and the public will be barred from attending, and Andrea Williams, CEO of the Christian Legal Centre, has been specifically excluded from attending the hearings to support Dr Scott.

Unwilling complainant

The complainant, an adult, was originally encouraged to bring the charge by his mother, and has persistently refused to have his evidence challenged.

Dr Scott, supported by the Christian Legal Centre, argued that his case should be ‘Struck Out’, as a proper and fair hearing could not take place if he was not able to cross-examine the complainant face to face.

Yet the GMC has decided to persist with the case regardless of the lack of credible ‘evidence’, and knowing the stress it would cause Dr Scott at a time when he was already undergoing treatment for cancer.

The complainant will now give evidence by phone, preventing Dr Scott from cross examining him in person.

Comment

Dr Scott said:

“There are thousands of doctors across the land who hold one to one consultations with patients every day.  As professionals, it is right that there are proper procedures in place for complaints to be made and heard, but for any professional not to be given the opportunity to cross-examine a complainant face to face and for the case to be tried without such evidence would be plainly wrong.

“The GMC has taken two years to drag this case out knowing all too well that the complainant would never show up.  The case should have been dropped at least 18 months ago by the GMC, but they decided to continue to proceed – even encouraging the complainant to give evidence by telephone.

“Without seeing a person’s body-language or demeanour whilst giving evidence and their being cross-examined, no panel or jury can tell whether they are telling the truth, let alone be assured of the identity of the person claiming to be the complainant!

“I am being denied a proper hearing and unless this case is finally decided in my favour, I will be seeking further legal advice as to a Judicial review of the GMC’s handling of its Disciplinary procedures, as the amateur and unjust way this trial is being conducted is an insult to me and to every member of the medical profession.”

Andrea Williams, CEO of the Christian Legal Centre, said:

“I am appalled by what I'm witnessing today. The GMC is convening a hearing which will partly be in secret so that it can pursue disciplinary proceedings against a Christian doctor with an unblemished professional record.

“This is unheard of and many doctors will be deeply concerned with the way this is being handled by the GMC. We seem to live in a society where any expression of the Christian faith is seen as a serious crime.”

Resources

Case File: Dr Scott

Christian Concern: Religious Freedom
 

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