Press Release: GMC to hold secret proceedings against doctor for sharing his beliefs
Issued by Christian Legal Centre
For immediate release
11 June 2012
GMC to hold secret proceedings against doctor for sharing his beliefs
The General Medical Council (GMC) has today decided to continue disciplinary proceedings against a Christian GP, despite the fact that the complainant has refused for two years to give evidence face to face in open court.
In addition, the GMC has taken the extraordinary step of deciding that the proceedings will be held in secret. There will be no press, no public, and Andrea Williams, CEO of the Christian Legal Centre, has been specifically excluded from attending the hearings to support Dr Scott.
Dr Richard Scott, who works at Bethesda Medical Centre in Margate, Kent, was first reported to the GMC in September 2010 for discussing his faith with a patient during a one to one private consultation.
Dr Scott, who works for a practice well-known for having Christian partners, had been threatened with an Official Warning by the GMC, a blemish on his 28 years’ service as a professional.
The complainant, an adult, was encouraged to bring the charge by his mother, and has persistently refused to have his evidence challenged. Despite this, the GMC has today decided to persist with the case; regardless of the lack of credible ‘evidence’ and knowing the additional stress it would cause Dr Scott at a time when he was already undergoing treatment for bowel cancer.
Today (11 JUN), Dr Scott, represented by Human Rights Barrister Paul Diamond, and 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 the ‘defendant’, or his representative were not able to cross-examine evidence face to face.
Dr Scott has already faced a GMC panel in September 2011 when this matter, in normal circumstances, would have been thrown out. At that time, the Panel ordered an adjournment in order to try and secure the attendance of the complainant. Nine months on the GMC has failed to secure his attendance and is doggedly pursuing the case without him present.
The GMC is, in effect, now trying the GP via ‘evidence’ by telephone.
Dr Scott said:
“I, and every GP, should be outraged at this decision by our professional body.
“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 secret court so that it can pursue disciplinary proceedings against a Christian doctor with an unblemished professional record, despite the complainant refusing to even turn up.
“This is unheard of and many doctors will be deeply concerned with the way this is being handled by the GMC. This is another example of the over-zealous victimisation of Christians by public bodies. Something has to change, and soon.”
For further information contact Andrea Williams 0771 2591164.
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