News Professional Discipline 23rd Jun 2020

No strike-off for doctor found to have had a sexually-motivated conversation with someone he believed to be a child

Ben Rich represented Dr Awan, who a Tribunal found had a sexually motivated conversation with someone he believed was a 13-year-old girl. He was suspended for 9 months. The GMC appealed against the sanction on the grounds that it was not enough to protect the public, in particular the reputation of the profession.

The appeal was dismissed by the High Court [GMC v Awan [2020] EWHC 1553 (Admin)]. The case is notable for two things. First, the Judge, Mr Justice Mostyn, robustly rejected the idea that a professional should face a greater sanction simply because he or she had denied allegations which were then found proved. This was in reaction to the GMC’s submission that the Tribunal had failed to take sufficient account of the fact that it had found Dr Awan’s explanations to be “implausible” and “not credible”. Mostyn J himself described them as “ludicrous” but stated “an accused professional has the right to advance any defence he or she wishes and is entitled to a fair trial of that defence without facing the jeopardy, if the defence is disbelieved, of … enhanced sanctions”.

Secondly, this is the second time in the recent past that the GMC has failed to persuade the High Court to strike off a doctor found to have had sexually motivated contact with someone who they believed was, or might be, a child (in fact both were adults posing as a child). The facts in GMC v X [2019] EWHC 492 were arguably more serious although the doctor had substantial mitigation. This should be a reminder, if one were needed, that there are no tariffs for types of misconduct.

You will be able to read an analysis by Ben of GMC v Awan on 2 Hare Court’s Professional Discipline Newsletter, coming out later this week.

You can read the case here.

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