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Dr Waney Squier hearing

GMC Statement

21 Mar 2016

Our Chief Executive comments on the MPTS decision to erase Dr Squier from the medical register.

Niall Dickson, Chief Executive of the General Medical Council, said:

‘This case was not about the science - it was about Dr Squier’s conduct as a doctor acting as an expert witness. It was brought following criticism of her evidence by no fewer than four senior judges presiding over some of the most serious matters the courts have to deal with.

‘A doctor giving evidence in court is bound by the same standards as a doctor in clinical practice and by additional rules set down by the courts. They have a duty to act with honesty and integrity at all times, their work should be rigorous and their opinion presented objectively and fairly.

'Cases involving allegations of injury to children are often complex and the courts must rule on matters that will affect the safety and custody of children and sometimes the liberty of adults – as such judges have the right to expect high standards of accuracy and objectivity from expert witnesses. If it becomes clear that a doctor has lost objectivity – by cherry-picking facts or research to suit their views or by working outside their area of expertise – that is a problem which we must look at.

‘What is not always understood is that neither the GMC, which is responsible for investigating doctors, nor the independent tribunal have any role in resolving differences of scientific opinion.'

Notes to editors

About the General Medical Council

The General Medical Council (GMC) is an independent organisation that helps to protect patients and improve medical education and practice across the UK.

  • We decide which doctors are qualified to work here and we oversee UK medical education and training.
  • We set the standards that doctors need to follow, and make sure that they continue to meet these standards throughout their careers.
  • We take action when we believe a doctor may be putting the safety of patients, or the public's confidence in doctors, at risk.

We are not here to protect doctors - their interests are protected by others. Our job is to protect the public.

We are independent of government and the medical profession and accountable to Parliament. Our powers are given to us by Parliament through the Medical Act 1983.

We are a registered charity (number 1089278 with the Charity Commission for England and Wales, and number SC037750 with the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator), we have to show that our aims are for public benefit.

The GMC Media Relations Office can be contacted on 020 7189 5454, email press@gmc-uk.org.

To find out more please visit our website www.gmc-uk.org.

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About the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service

The MPTS holds all medical practitioners tribunals for doctors registered in the UK and its tribunals make independent decisions based on guidance set by the GMC.

The Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service (MPTS) took over responsibility for medical practitioners tribunals and interim orders tribunals on 11 June 2012.

The MPTS is part of the GMC, but operationally separate. It is accountable both to GMC Council and to Parliament via the Privy Council.

It is chaired by a retired Deputy High Court Judge, His Honour David Pearl.

All MPTS hearings take place in the dedicated hearing centre in St James’s Buildings, Oxford Street, Manchester.

The MPTS Media Relations Office can be contacted on 0161 250 6868, email pressoffice@mpts-uk.org.