QUEEN'S BENCH DIVISION
THE ADMINISTRATIVE COURT
London WC2A 2LL
B e f o r e :
|THE QUEEN ON THE APPLICATION OF DR JULIANNA SOSANYA||Claimant|
|GENERAL MEDICAL COUNCIL||Defendant|
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Mr Paul Ozin appeared on behalf of the Defendant
Crown Copyright ©
(1) Where an Interim Orders Panel or a Fitness to Practise Panel are satisfied that it is necessary for the protection of members of the public or is otherwise in the public interest, or is in the interests of a fully registered person, for the registration of that person to be suspended or to be made subject to conditions, the Panel may make an order —
(a) that his registration in the register shall be suspended (that is to say, shall not have effect) during such period not exceeding eighteen months as may be specified in the order (an 'interim suspension order'); or
(b) that his registration shall be conditional on his compliance, during such period not exceeding eighteen months as may be specified in the order .....
(10) Where an order has effect under any provision of this section, the relevant court may —
(a) in the case of an interim suspension order, terminate the suspension;
It is not necessary to set out more. It is accepted that this court constitutes the relevant court for these purposes.
"Dr Sosanya has been charged with money laundering and will stand trial at Inner London Crown Court."
That trial is due to take place, I gather, in the earlier part of next year.
"Q Could I just ask, please, in the application to the vocational training programme, did you disclose the issues that have been discussed today and today's proposed hearing?
MR HOCKTON: The application preceded these matters. It was in January, I understand."
That particular point then fizzled out so far as question and answer were concerned.
"Having taken account of all the circumstances the Interim Orders Panel were satisfied that in accordance with Section 41A of the Medical Act 1983, as amended, it is necessary and in the public interest to make an order suspending your registration for a period of eighteen months."
The panel went on to record the conviction - on his plea - of her husband and the fact that the applicant herself had pleaded not guilty to a charge or charges of money laundering.
"You must inform the GMC without delay if anywhere in the world you have accepted a caution, been charged with or found guilty of a criminal offence."
The panel recorded that in a letter of the applicant, dated 19 June 2009, she had admitted that she had failed to inform the GMC of the charges against her, recording the reasons she had given that she was unaware of her responsibility to do so and so on.
"The panel has heard from Mr Hockton [he being then and now counsel for Dr Sosanya] that you did not disclose your arrest in September 2008 on your application for the General Practitioners Vocational Training Scheme in January 2009. The panel consider this may indicate a lack of probity."
That particular comment cannot find justification of itself by reference to paragraph 58 of the Good Medical Practice which refers to a caution, charge or conviction but not to arrest. It seems as though the panel was taking it that there was a wider obligation on the part of Dr Sosanya to disclose her arrest when she applied to the vocational training scheme some months after her arrest. It is a little unclear just how firm a conclusion the panel was drawing from that when it stated that it considered that this "may" demonstrate a lack of probity. Of course it would have been quite a strong thing to make a positive finding of lack of probity on the basis of - as here - effectively one question answered by counsel and lack of substantive evidence on this issue.
"Having taken account of all the information available, the panel is satisfied that there may be impairment of your fitness to practise which poses a real risk to members of the public or may adversely affect the public interest or your own interests and, after balancing your interests and the interests of the public, an interim order is necessary to guard against the risk."
"The panel has taken account of the issue of proportionality in that the panel must act in a way which is fair and reasonable. Whilst it notes that its order has removed your ability to practise medicine, the panel has determined that the suspension of your registration is a necessary and proportionate response to the risks posed."
It went on to indicate that in deciding the period of 18 months, the panel had decided such an order was necessary "owing to the time it may take to investigate and resolve all the issues relating to your fitness to practise."
"The IOP must consider ..... whether to impose an interim order. If it is satisfied that:
a. in all the circumstances that there may be impairment of the doctor's fitness to practise which pose a real risk to members of the public, or may adversely affect the public interest or the interests of the practitioner; and
b. after balancing the interests of the doctor and the interests of the public, that an interim order is necessary to guard against such risk
the appropriate order should be made."
It is obvious that in stating its reasons as it did the panel had paragraph 18 very much in mind. Paragraph 19 goes on to give further guidance as to the circumstances in which an interim order may be considered to be made. Paragraph 20 stresses that it was for the panel to decide what weight to give to the relevant factors in the case.
"4 This category includes cases where the doctor faces allegations of a nature so serious that it would not be in the public interest for the doctor to hold unrestricted registration whilst the allegations are resolved even though there may be no evidence of a direct risk to patients ..... "
In paragraph 5 it is said that matters of this kind, which would normally already be under investigation by the police, would "include very serious alleged offences including murder, attempted murder, rape, attempted rape and sexual abuse of children."
"It is submitted that the IOP was wrong and acted unreasonably in deciding that a decision to suspend was necessary and in the public interest or the claimant's interest or that the claimant might pose a risk to members of the public."
One point that can be made, and is made by Mr Hockton, seems to me to have very great force. In its reasons the panel seems to rely on all three potential limbs of Section 41A (1) (a) in deciding to suspend. The panel seems to have concluded that there may be a real risk to members of the public or that it was in the public interest or that it was in the interests of Dr Sosanya herself. But self-evidently there was no evidence to suggest that the conduct of Dr Sosanya relied upon had any bearing on clinical issues. There was no suggestion that the charge of money laundering had any relevance in itself to a clinical issue; indeed the evidence was to the contrary, that Dr Sosanya had shown herself a good doctor.
"It is determined that suspension of your registration is a necessary and proportionate response to the risks posed."
What were the risks posed? None are identified. Certainly it is, on any view, a dramatic step for a professional person such as a doctor to be suspended. As Lord Justice Sedley has pointed out in one particular case, in one sense suspension cannot be taken as a neutral act. Of course it involves no ultimately binding findings of fact: but it does have an immediate and dramatic impact on the reputation and potential career of any professional person.
friend has referred to an original bundle. It was similarly exiguous to the documents that have found their way before you today.