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HPC v Mr RM (Biomedical Scientist)

A decision of the panel of the Health Professions Council Conduct and Competence Committee

24 August 2009

Mr RM faced allegations that he had:

  1. sent and received approximately 89 inappropriate emails which in some cases were pornographic
  2. kept material of an inappropriate nature in his office which in some cases were pornographic

The factual allegations were admitted by the Registrant, therefore the Panel were left to determine the matters of impairment and sanction. The Panel noted that the Registrant would have been aware of the Trust’s policy relating to emails and internet use. The Panel went on to consider the question of impairment and considered two components namely, the personal and public components. The Panel took into account the following aggravating features;

  1. the number of inappropriate emails of a pornographic and racist nature and content,
  2. that the actions of the Registrant were deliberate in that he forwarded to other recipients a considerable quantity of emails,
  3. that the Registrant was an experienced senior manager who should have known that his behaviour constituted a serious breach of the Standards of Conduct, Performance and Ethics, and
  4. that the Registrant only realised the seriousness of his actions when the matters were discovered and investigated.

The Panel also took into account the following matters put forward on behalf of the Registrant:

  1. that he is a Biomedical Scientist of some 35 years experience with a previously unblemished career,
  2. that he deeply regrets his actions and accepts that it was a serious lapse of personal and professional judgement,
  3. that he accepts that he has let himself and his colleagues down, and
  4. that there is no evidence that he personally downloaded any of the material in question but that it was forwarded to him by way of email or email attachment.

The Registrant’s misconduct related to the receipt, forwarding and retention of inappropriate material of a sexual and racist nature. They stated the public is entitled to expect the highest standards of behaviour from a registered health professional, particularly one of RM’s seniority and experience. He has brought himself, his employers and his profession into disrepute. The Panel concluded that the Registrant’s fitness to practise was impaired.

At the sanction stage the Panel heard testimonial evidence hand had regard to the Indicative Sanctions Policy of the HPC. They decided that to take no further action or to order mediation would not be appropriate give the serious nature of the misconduct. The Panel next considered a Caution Order and were satisfied that this was an appropriate and proportionate sanction. They were mindful of the need to maintain public confidence in the profession and in the regulatory process. The Panel took into account the assurances given and the positive steps taken by RM to ensure there would be no repetition of such inappropriate behaviour.