Dr Casey cleared of sexual examination

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A Derry doctor’s reputation was today fully restored after he won his appeal against being found to have carried out a sexually motivated examination on a patient.

Earlier this year a General Medical Council panel imposed a nine month suspension on Dr Leo Casey over alleged improper conduct six years ago.

But its determination was completely quashed by a judge at the High Court in Belfast who identified serious inconsistencies in accounts given by the female patient who made the complaint.

Lord Justice Girvan also pointed out that the woman completely abandoned an earlier version where she made claims about a highly sexualised encounter involving improper handling of her breasts.

He said: “The case made out by the GMC before the panel in the first instance is a case which now lies in tatters.

“The witness, Patient A, having made a number of serious allegations of sexual impropriety withdrew nearly all of them, leaving one allegation relating to the examination of her chest.”

In July the GMC determined during a fit to practise hearing that Dr Casey took advantage of the woman while carrying out an examination at the Oakleaf Medical Centre in 2005.

It found he was sexually motivated in placing his hand inside her bra and placing part of his stethoscope onto her nipples when it was not clinically indicated.

A decision was taken at the time to suspend Dr Casey, rather than strike him off, after taking into account his contribution to the Oakleaf practice and testimonials from those who regard him as “an outstanding doctor”.

His lawyers challenged the determination on the basis that it was wrong to find Patient A to be a consistent, reliable and credible witness.

Ruling on the appeal, Lord Justice Girvan said: “The internal inconsistencies in her previous version of events and the complete and unexplained abandonment of serious allegations of sexualised misconduct should have raised serious concerns which should have been addressed by the panel in its analysis.

“The finding by the panel that the patient presented as a consistent, reliable and credible witness is one that no tribunal properly directing itself on the evidence could have made in the circumstances.”

After setting aside its decision he resisted submissions by counsel for the GMC that the case should be remitted back for another hearing.

He said the determination should instead by fully quashed.

“There is a real risk that because there has been a hearing already this witness would be rehearsed to the point of causing a problem in relation to the interests of justice,” he added.

Dr Casey was hugged and embraced by relatives and supporters in the public gallery as the verdict was confirmed.

Outside the court he said: “I am pleased that Lord Justice Girvan has quashed the decision of the GMC’s Fitness to Practice panel of July 2011.

“I would like to thank friends and family, patients, professional colleagues and my legal team for their support during this difficult time for all involved.”