Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Gynaecologist attacks false allegations after sexual complaint withdrawn

A gynaecologist has described how a female patient who made false allegations of sexual assault against him threatened to ruin his career and called for action to prevent her from doing it again.

Angus Thomson, 40, said the claims by Bibi Giles that he had abused her when he gave her two “leg buckling orgasms” during an examination were “some of the most serious that a doctor can be accused of” and could threaten careers and reputation.

Mrs Giles’ case dramatically collapsed yesterday after it as disclosed that she “had form” for “pestering a doctor” when her former GP came forward after reading about the case.

He was preparing to give evidence, believed to be about her behaviour towards him whilst she was his patient, when she called off the £50,000 damages claim against Mr Thomson.

Last night there was growing anger that she had been allowed to threaten Mr Thomson’s unblemished name with the county court action. She had not reported the so-called assault to the police and the GMC took no action against the consultant after she apparently made a complaint against him.

Dr Stephanie Bown, director of policy and communication at the Medical Protection Society, which provides legal advice to doctors, called for the civil court system to be reformed to prevent vexatious allegations having a “devastating” effect on a doctor’s reputation.

She said that defendants in sexual cases brought in civil courts should be given the right to anonymity, and called for the legal system to allow them to seek some kind of redress against people who bring malicious complaints.

She said: “On the face of it this is a very serious allegation that might warrant a criminal investigation, and you wonder why that didn’t happen. Is it that there wasn’t enough evidence?

“Even when they are unfounded, allegations of this kind also sully the reputation of the entire medical profession.

“There must be a reason why allegations that are so serious did not give rise to charges by the police or the GMC. Yet it's open to somebody with sufficient private funds to bring claims in the civil courts.”

Tim Smith, a partner who specialises in medical reputation issues for law firm Berryman Lace Mawer, said that the civil system allowed “my word against their word” cases to reach court without significant investigation of the allegations.

“Doctors are utterly vulnerable to having their reputations besmirched,” he said. “It’s a very real concern.

“You want to have a system that weeds out the cranks from the real victims, but it’s very hard to do that without restricting people’s access to justice.”

Bertie Leigh, a senior partner in medical law at Hempsons law firm, said that there was a strong cases for doctors being granted anonymity in civil cases relating to sexual misconduct.

“Such complaints are especially damaging to doctors because of the high standards the public sets for the medical profession,” he said.

Mrs Giles, 50, had been referred to Mr Thomson, a consultant gynaecologist based at Droitwich Spa, Worcs, after suffering 16 years of medical problems.

She claimed that during an internal examination after her surgery he touched and rubbed her inappropriately, giving her two orgasms in under two minutes.

She also alleged that he then pestered her into having an affair.

However, Mr Thomson, from Worcester, accused her of harassing him and other doctors were well aware of the situation between him and “Miss Guyana” – a reference to suggestions she had told him she was a former beauty queen who had held the title Miss Guyana.

As her story unravelled, it emerged she had sent him lurid messages, including a suggestive text asking him to christen her with his “Angus beef sausage”.

The final straw came when on Thursday new evidence emerged in the form of Mrs Giles’ medical notes held by her former GP, Dr William Dowley, taken from the time he was treating her, between 2002-2004.

Christina Lambert QC, representing Mr Thomson, said she was calling Dr Dowley “in respect of invites and conversations between him and Mrs Giles”.

She said the evidence involved Mrs Giles saying to Dr Dowley she wanted a personal relationship with him, and that she had a high libido.

She added: “Mrs Giles had reported to him that there had been a previous relationship above and beyond a doctor patient relationship.”

Judge Daniel Pearce-Higgins said: “Life would have been much easier if Mrs Giles had admitted this incident at the start of the case. She has got form. She has pestered a doctor in the past.”

The judge said Mrs Giles had decided to withdraw the case and pay £30,000 towards Mr Thomson’s legal costs.

Judge Pearce-Higgins said: “This has the effect of fully exonerating him and he leaves with his professional integrity intact.

“He has no doubt learnt there are no doubt limits to the compassion and concern in dealing with his patients.”

On the steps of Worcester County Court, Mr Thomson, standing with his wife, Lucy, a 40-year-old GP, thanked Dr Dowley for his “courageous and noble behaviour in coming forward after seeing the press coverage.’’

He said: “I never expected to be standing outside a court delivering this kind of statement but I’m extremely pleased this is all over.

“The last three years have been a horrible ordeal and the last three weeks have been unspeakably stressful for my wife, our extended families and for me.

“The allegations Mrs Giles made are completely untrue and are some of the most serious that a doctor can be accused of and threatened to ruin my career and reputation.

“I am therefore enormously relieved and delighted that this case has been concluded with my complete exoneration.

“I am able to return to work on Monday with my professional reputation intact.”

He added: “Having made this horrible, false allegation, Mr and Mrs Giles walk away. I only hope she is never in a position to put any other people though the same.”