News Criminal Defence 15th Mar 2024

Gudrun Young KC acts for Consultant Gynaecologist cleared of all counts of sexual assault on patients

Gudrun Young KC acted on behalf of Dr M, an eminent Consultant Gynaecologist, now retired, who faced 5 allegations of indecent assault, sexual assault and assault by penetration in respect of three private patients. It was alleged that he had used the opportunity of performing clinically indicated vaginal examinations to inappropriately touch patients for the purposes of sexual gratification.  The consultations complained of dated back to 1994, 2004 and 2013 and in respect of two of the complainants the allegations were not made until many years after the fact.  Despite being cleared of all wrongdoing by the hospital and the GMC in respect of two of the allegations after an investigation in 2015, and these matters having been NFA by the CPS, when a third complainant came forward in 2020 stating that in 2004 she had been inappropriately examined, the initial decisions came to be reviewed and he was charged in respect of all three complainants.

It was the defence case that the Consultant had performed appropriate intimate examinations at all times and the complainants had simply misunderstood or misinterpreted certain actions in the course of an examination that can, by its nature, be uncomfortable, embarrassing or “triggering.  By pure chance, the Consultant had retained all of his own handwritten notes of the private consultations with each of the patients and was therefore able to demonstrate that their recollections as to what had occurred, and whether or not they had returned to see him after the consultations complained, of, were wrong.  By the time he was charged he was under no obligation to have retained his notes and it was by pure happenstance that they had not been shredded, along with a large number of other medical notes and records that he was in the process of disposing of.  Were it not for this stroke of luck, the outcome of the case may well have been very different indeed.  The case raises an important issue as to when and in what circumstances it is appropriate to charge doctors in respect of complaints of this kind, sometimes going back many years or decades, when the doctor cannot be expected to have any independent recall of the consultations and when contemporaneous notes and records may not be available.

Counsel was instructed by Weightmans Solicitors.


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