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Doctor cleared of sexual misconduct due to ‘different cultural background’

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An Iraqi doctor who practices as a GP in Berkshire was cleared of sexual misconduct at a Medical Tribunal Hearing this week where his ‘inappropriate’ behaviour was put down to his ‘different cultural background’. The doctor will return to work after a four-month suspension. Tim Dieppe argues that someone’s cultural background should not be used to excuse their behaviour. Moral laws have a transcendent source in the Lord God of the Bible who is the moral law giver.



It was reported that a doctor pestered two of his female colleagues, lifting up one woman’s top and bombarding another with suggestive messages.

One colleague said, “He did pull me onto his lap, which made me feel extremely uncomfortable, I just told him to get off me.”

A senior GP described the doctor's behaviour as attempts to give “positive feedback and encouragement to staff.” He said that his actions could be misinterpreted as flirting due to his “different cultural background.”


Text messages

Example text messages sent to one of his colleagues said:

'I hope I am not intruding texting u while u r home with your family? There is a lot that I want to say but may be inappropriate texting you while you are home with your husband. There is nothing inside me towards you but nice things and nice feelings.'

'I am happy with anything you do that makes you happy. You have a nice kind innocent lovely adorable sole (sic). I really envy your husband. I sleep in my own room. Doctors have to be happily married, so they say.

'I didn't want to disturb your life but I have feelings that I couldn't resist. I am really sorry I hesitated to say anything for a whole year but today I couldn't hide it. Oh God I feel so bad now.'


Different cultural background

Dr Julian Howells, who trained the doctor, told the hearing:

'Originally from Iraq, he has a different cultural background from indigenous doctors and during his training we would sometimes discuss this.

'His demeanour to staff and colleagues was often friendly and complimentary. His intention was to give positive feedback and encouragement to the staff. 

'I explained to him that in British culture there was a danger that this could be misconstrued as being flirtatious and cause discomfort that was not intended.'

The doctor will return to work after a four-month suspension because the panel decided that his conduct was not ‘sexually predatory’, though it was ‘inappropriate’ and ‘lacked integrity’.


Cultural relativism

It seems incredible that such behaviour could be described as ‘intended to give positive feedback and encouragement’. Having a different cultural background does not excuse such conduct. Using his cultural background to excuse his behaviour implies that we should hold people from different cultures to lower standards of conduct. It could be seen as a form of racism to imply that people from different cultures should be excused from immoral behaviour.

Cultural relativism is the idea that a person’s behaviour should be judged relative to their own culture rather than against any other criteria. There are many problems with cultural relativism as I outlined in my article on multiculturalism published earlier this year. Cultural relativism is used to promote acceptance of all sorts of behaviours such as FGM, polygamy, and here sexual misconduct.

In one of the worst examples of this kind, a Turkish man in Germany was acquitted of a rape that left the woman incapacitated because the judge ruled that in his cultural mentality this was not rape even though she had experienced it as rape.

Excusing the doctor's sexual misconduct on account of his cultural background is effectively encouraging people from other cultures in the UK to engage in sexual misconduct. Their cultural background can be used as an excuse.


Cultures are not equal

This kind of case highlights that cultures are not equal. In other cultures, some behaviours and practices, particularly in the treatment of women, should not be regarded as ‘equally valid’ moral rules.

The reality is that moral laws come from the moral law giver – which is the Lord God of the Bible. Moral laws transcend cultures. Immorality is immorality, wherever, whenever, and by whoever it is practiced.

Our culture has lost the understanding that moral laws have a transcendent source. This is why appeals to cultural background as an excuse are being made. We feel that we have no transcendent source to appeal to so who are we to say that our cultural morality is any better than any other culture’s morality.

What is needed is the recovery of our sense of being a Christian nation with laws and morality based on the laws and morality of the God of the Bible. These moral laws apply to all people everywhere, irrespective of cultural background.



Tim Dieppe: What’s wrong with multiculturalism?

Coverage in the Daily Mail:


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