Appeals following acquittalsIn the case of Bhatt v General Medical Council  EWHC 783 (Admin) Mr Justice Langstaff had to deal with a doctor who had been acquitted by the Crown Court of seven counts of sexual assault against six patients. Two years later he was found guilty by the FTTP of the GMC of examining those patients for a sexual rather than a medical reason. He appealed on the ground that his application to have the proceedings stayed should have been granted and that various evidential issues made it unfair for him to have been tried by the panel.
After an extensive review of the decided cases the learned judge made this statement of the law:
‘i) [The court] will give appropriate weight to the fact that the [FTTP] Panel is a specialist tribunal, whose understanding of what the medical profession expects of its members in matters of medical practice deserves respect;
ii) that the tribunal has had the advantage of hearing the evidence from live witnesses;
iii) the court should accordingly be slow to interfere with the decisions on matters of fact taken by the first instance body;
iv) findings of primary fact, particularly if founded upon an assessment of the credibility of witnesses, are close to being unassailable, and must be shown with reasonable certainty to be wrong if they are to be departed from;
v) but that where what is concerned is a matter of judgement and evaluation of evidence which relates to police practice, or other areas outside the immediate focus of interest and professional experience of the FTPP, the court will moderate the degree of deference it will be prepared to accord, and will be more willing to conclude that an error has, or may have been, made, such that a conclusion to which the Panel has come is or may be "wrong" or procedurally unfair.’
The appeal was dismissed.
Categories: 6th edition, Chapter 18, updates