Reddy v General Medical Council [2021] EWHC 435

An appeal by Professor Reddy against a MPTS to suspended him for 9 months, on the ground that his fitness to practise is impaired as a result of misconduct. 

In brief, Professor Reddy, a doctor and a distinguished medical specialist, was to be employed exclusively by University College London (UCL) but was in receipt of two full-time salaries, one from University of Cambridge and one from UCL.  The central issue before the Tribunal was whether Professor Reddy had acted dishonestly in receiving two full-time salaries for over a year. 

MPTS

The fact-finding stage of the hearing lasted from 11 November 2019 to 10 December 2019. Both sides called witnesses.  The Tribunal stated in its Determination on Facts that it considered the witnesses called on behalf of the GMC to be “credible, honest, balanced, and generally consistent” and said that the GMC’s witnesses were “helpful, credible and reliable.” The Tribunal did not doubt the sincerity of Professor Reddy’s witnesses. Each of these witnesses emphasised that Professor Reddy is highly respected in his field and said that he found it difficult to believe that Professor Reddy had been dishonest. 

As for Professor Reddy, the Tribunal noted that he was of good character, and said that he was an articulate witness, a highly intelligent man, and an exceptional scientist. The Tribunal noted, however, that Professor Reddy had difficulty in directly answering a number questions put to him by counsel for the GMC. The Tribunal said that in his oral evidence, Professor Reddy appeared forgetful and was, at times, inconsistent, and that this undermined the credibility and reliability of his evidence generally. 

At the end of the Determination of Facts stage of the proceedings, the Tribunal found that it had been proved that: 

  • Professor Reddy had failed to inform UCL that he remained in full-time employment with UOC;
  • Professor Reddy knew that he was in receipt of two full-time salaries from 28 September 2015 until 30 November 2016;
  • Professor Reddy had failed to inform UOC and UCL that he was in receipt of two full-time salaries; and
  • Professor Reddy’s actions in failing to inform UCL that he remained in full-time employment with UOC and in failing to inform UOC and UCL that he was in receipt of two full-time salaries were dishonest.

The Tribunal subsequently determined that Professor Reddy’s fitness to practise was impaired by reason of this misconduct and imposed the sanction of suspension from the Medical Register for a period of nine months, such suspension not to take effect until the conclusion of the appeal process. 

Appeal

Professor Reddy appealed the MPTS decision on the following grounds: 

  • There were serious procedural irregularities in that the Tribunal took into account evidence that was not relied on or dealt with by the parties;
  • The Tribunal unfairly and inappropriately speculated about the disciplinary proceedings which had been taken by UCL against Professor Reddy;
  • The Tribunal’s Determination had failed to deal with crucial defence evidence; and
  • The Tribunal had displayed apparent bias, prejudice, and general unfairness towards Professor Reddy.

Mr Justice Cavanagh refused the appeal on all grounds.  He noted in his judgement that

“At the heart of these proceedings was the issue of the credibility of Professor Reddy himself. Was he telling the truth when he said that he had not been aware that he had simultaneously been receiving a full-time salary from UOC and from UCL, and that he had no dishonest intent?”

On the second ground he said:

“I do not accept these submissions. The Tribunal was engaged in the exercise of evaluating the credibility of Professor Reddy. This was of central importance to the case. In my judgment, the Tribunal was fully entitled to take into account an apparently evasive answer that was given by Professor Reddy to the question from Mr Gilbart. The Tribunal was entitled to take the view that his credibility was damaged by his stated inability to recall the explanation that he had given to the UCL disciplinary panel on this point of central importance. This was not a question of the Tribunal speculating about what Professor Reddy had actually said in the UCL proceedings. Rather, the Tribunal was focusing on Professor Reddy’s statement in the Tribunal proceedings that he could not remember the defence that he had put forward at the UCL proceedings. It not surprising that the Tribunal found that this strained credulity.”

The third ground was determined on its facts.

Concluding his judgement, Cavanagh J said:

“I must confess that I find mystifying the submission that the fact that there was apparent bias, prejudice or procedural unfairness arising from the fact that Tribunal did not ask any questions of Professor Reddy at the end of his oral evidence. There is nothing improper in a court or tribunal deciding not to ask questions of a party, or indeed of any witness. In this case, a very great deal of evidence was heard by the Tribunal over many days.”