Exactly as you would expect – unfavourably.

On a day when he was scheduled to work Dr A sent a text message to the rota coordinator stating “have been violently sick overnight, not feeling well”, the next day he sent a message stating he still had a temperature and on the third day claimed he went to an A+E and was admitted there and he was given antibiotics.  He admitted he had deliberately and dishonestly lied about these facts and he was dismissed from his post a few days later.  He was also referred to the GMC who investigated and in turn referred him to the MPTS.

In giving evidence at the later MPTS Hearing Dr A gave further new evidence that he was in fact unwell at the time but in a different manner to the one represented in the text messages.  Unfortunately this did not go down well with the Tribunal.  They heard evidence about Dr A’s explanations given contemporaneously to other colleagues and they found that the texts were not an exaggeration of an illness but an outright fabrication.

They stated that they were “not impressed” with Dr A’s evidence.  They also stated he had “attempted to take control of the subject of the question by not only interrupting but also by going off at a tangent and answering questions on his terms. Further, at times the Tribunal found Dr A’s answers to be rambling, defensive and frequently evasive. Accordingly, the Tribunal was led to the conclusion that, at best, Dr A’s evidence was unreliable and, at worst, was deliberately misleading and not credible”.

It would seem that generally the Tribunal encountered some difficulties getting to the bottom of this case.  Of two other doctors who were giving evidence they said of one that “he was not entirely cooperative and came across as ‘prickly’ and, at times, was a little aggressive” and another “not to be the easiest of witnesses. He had a tendency to interrupt and occasionally missed the point of the question”.

Overlapping the lying were other allegations that on separate occasions Dr A had behaved in a racist and homophobic manner towards colleagues.  Dr A was already subject to GMC undertakings at the time of the events in question, the GMC argued it was similar to being on probation, high standards were expected and they requested erasure from the register.

In respect of Impairment the Tribunal found that lying about illness was misconduct.  Dr A had shown remorse but insufficient insight into his actions.  One of his colleagues was off that week, clinic appointments were cancelled whereas Dr A had tried to state “it was an easy week”.  The Tribunal were unimpressed he had changed his version of events in evidence and on the facts of this case found that as a consequence he had not shown insight into the issues, it had undermined his assertion to the contrary.

The Tribunal therefore concluded that 12 months suspension and a further review hearing were necessary. They explicitly set out the remediation a review Tribunal would expect to investigate which included all the events as well as evidence there would not be repeat behaviour.

As a general point it important to note that witnesses giving evidence to the Tribunal usually do so ‘under oath’ or ‘affirm’ which is intended to ensure they give truthful evidence.  Having done that there is a legal obligation to tell the truth.  Knowingly giving false information can have serious consequences including perjury charges under the Perjury Act 1911 thereby risking a fine or a maximum imprisonment term of 7 years.

If you have any queries about the Tribunal process or giving evidence at an MPT please contact us directly for advice.