Firstly, this blog is an opinion on matters as they proceed, and I have no part in the case. I am merely viewing aspects from the outside, like many others. I am preparing this in a non-professional capacity, but I do have some experience at giving expert evidence at tribunal over many years.
I am getting updates from ‘live Tweets’ from the hearing provided from the Tribunal service and will see if I can get a press update as well. I am also thankful to @truesolicitor and others for their updates on this case. We are aware of other live feeds but are also aware that these are not as accurate and the reporting is, let’s say, skewed. ‘live tweets’ are taken from them being in the room and hearing and seeing proceedings. Apart from being there, it’s the best we can get.
I am trying to remain faithful to the feeds and comments made, but to report the facts and give a background to the proceedings and how the trial system works.
In this case, and current tribunal hearing, Dr Webberley (Dr W) is accused of practising medicine outside the rules and regulations of the General Medical Council (GMC) during the period March -November 2016, A failure to hold a proper safeguarding policy, and (2018) a failure to be registered as a practice in Wales. But there is more to it than that.
This update is from day 29
Day 28 is brought to you by He started it!
(Tuesday) [week 8] of the public hearing.
Intended start at 09:30am.
What’s on today?
Today is the (supposed) to be beginning of the defence case, again.
It ended up in a bit of a QC tussle and the panel retiring to “think things over” in a legal, decision-making way.
Let’s begin…or not.
Well, like yesterday, which sort of just ended, Today started out of order (again).
When one door closes, another door opens…or does it?
You will all remember that SJ officially “closed the GMC case last Friday”. Well, it seems that maybe he shouldn’t have, that’s at least what he thinks.
He stood up and tried to make a case for the GMC case being re-opened, so that it could here NEW evidence. That and some evidence that the GMC sort of forgot about giving.
There are two principal points here.
1) The GMC say that there are new questions to answer (and charges to be bought).but won’t say what, where from or why.
2) The GMC say they didn’t fully explore matters surrounding Patients D & E in their evidence. This despite evidence produced as part of questioning of Dr Harper. The GMC feel they should be allowed to cover this aspect more fully.
3) Also, SJ was being a bit more cagey about some other aspects. As to why evidence should be allowed.
SJ made the point that, these are ‘important’ aspects and should be allowed.
IS, understandably, was having none of it. He contended that the case was put, based on charges prepared by and coordinated by the GMC. If they failed to bring evidence to show how those charges were proven in the SEVEN weeks they had, then, quite frankly (in a QC kind of way) that’s tough.
IS said that introducing new evidence this late is bad enough, but to want/need to re-open the case to do so is just plain wrong.
He further was of the opinion that if the panel were to allow the new evidence, it is tantamount to the GMC (or any other claimant) just riding rough shod over procedure and protocol.
IS was also annoyed and said so, that the panel were being asked to agree to new evidence on documents yet to be produced TO the defence. So far the content was known ONLY to the GMC but to create new charges, when that information had not been formally introduced was nonsense.
Having heard the arguments, for and against, the Panel decided to withdraw and consider this matter.
The hearing was adjourned for about two hours (and a bit as it turned out).
And…back in the room.
The chair announced that the case for the GMC to submit the new evidence had failed. The reasoning would be handed down later.
At that point, the panel decided a ‘lunch’ adjournments was in order.
A bit of background. It may seem odd that SJ wants the case to re-open, and in some ways it is. However, there are valid reasons why such a course is available in the first place. There may be a time when NEW evidence comes to light for one reason or another, that could directly and materially affect the case at hand. As such, it would be improper for that to not be allowed.
The case for that (new) evidence is robust and the evidence has to be substantial, meaningful, and material. Without that evidence, there is the potential of an incorrect or wrong decision.; a miscarriage of Justice.
In this case, whilst SJ may desire the ‘new’ evidence, even if it were permitted, it is unlikely, on its own, to directly affect the outcome one way or another.
There are other charges to prove/dismiss that have equal or greater weight on the outcome. As such, in this case, where the need is due to poor case management, it is right that it is not permitted after the case has closed. Had the (GMC) case been open, it might well have been different.
For the panel to allow the new evidence, simply due to a GMC mistake, is not appropriate. The GMC have had time to make their case on the argument they created and needed to prove. If they didn’t, that’s not for the panel to allow.
When lunch isn’t lunch.
The panel may well have deserved their lunch given the arguments put up and the deliberation needed.
IS and the blue team, will be, understandably, happy with the panel decision. They can consider this at leisure.
SJ and the red team, will be a bit flustered and not enjoy lunch at all.
They will now have to consider their next move and if the decision could be challenged or can they find another route. They have about 1 hour.
Well, that’s and end to it…..Well no.
SJ wasn’t happy, and tried, yet again to convince the panel that further matters should be considered.
He expressed his concerns regarding the application to the HB, the filling in of forms, the number of and types of companies that Dr HW worked for. A lot is playing with semantics and clutching at straws, at the same time, which is a clever trick, if it can be pulled off. It seems the panel weren’t that impressed tbh.
SJ also tried to argue when notification of an investigation wasn’t notification. He ended up arguing that notification may have been made; may have been made; but was late and may NOT have been made all at the same time.
IS, having sharpened his claws over lunch, was in no mood for the ‘shenanigans’ being played out.
He wanted to ensure the trial is fair and judged openly based on the evidence produced and in a transparent way.
IS pointed out that Dr W couldn’t have known how her form filling and information given would be challenge by SJ 4-5 years into the future.
If the GMC fail to collect, collate, and produce ALL the records it needs, how can the case be proven? What they CAN’T then do, is try and blame DR HW for their own failings on data gathering and timing.
He also said, the GMC can’t blame errors in there bringing or giving evidence (in whole or in part) on Dr HW. Its their responsibility to prove the charges, they created.
IS gave an example of an email from a patient that the GMC allege Dr HW hadn’t responded to for over 12 hours (patient in pain). However, IS says, the GMC failed to note the intermediate email showing Dr HW DID respond and the 12 email was a further communication. IS says you can’t just ignore emails to suit, and you have to check properly to start with.
The GMC should withdraw charges 7 &8, as the GMC haven’t dealt with them (meaningfully)
The GMC can’t just make up or change the working of charges, to suit what they would like to have used.
Finally, IS stated, the GMC can only enforce breaches of the rules on the basis of the rules available and can’t just make up new ones to suit how they feel on that day.
The rules are the rules. They are complied with or not, based on the charges bought. That is those rules in place in 2016, not any added since.
What happened Next?
The panel listened, intervened, and questioned. The type and style of questions may suggest they are equally fed up with the game playing. We will see.
The panel then decided, there was much, much more thinking to be done.
The session and hearing were adjourned until FRIDAY 17th September at 09:30...but then delayed until 03:00 PM
Back on Friday to, maybe, hear the Blue Team case proper.
The panel are likely to return and have decided which charges will have to be proven by the defence.