Statement on the outcome of Dr Sarah Benn’s hearing

An independent tribunal of the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service (MPTS) has suspended Dr Sarah Benn’s registration for a period of five months. Dr Benn was referred to a tribunal because in 2022 she breached several court orders, which amounted to contempt of court, and as a result she received a custodial sentence. Read our full statement below.

A GMC spokesperson said:

‘Dr Sarah Benn was referred to a hearing at the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service not for protesting about climate change, but for multiple breaches of a court order which resulted in a custodial sentence.

‘Like all citizens, doctors have the right to express their personal opinions on issues, including climate change. There is nothing in our guidance to prevent them from doing so, nor from exercising their right to lobby government and to campaign, including taking part in protests.

‘However, patients and the public rightly have a high degree of trust in doctors and that trust can be eroded if doctors repeatedly fail to comply with the law. 

‘Our fitness to practise investigations consider cases which are referred to us and where doctors have broken the law, not their motivations for doing so. It is not the role of regulators to determine UK law – that is a matter for parliament.’


Additional information

  • The independent tribunal of the MPTS, after considering all the evidence, concluded that by consistently breaching a court order Dr Benn’s actions amounted to misconduct. Having found her fitness to practise to be impaired, the tribunal decided to suspend Dr Benn’s registration for a period of five months and directed a review hearing.
  • In their determination the tribunal were clear that this case is not about Dr Benn’s right to protest or take part in peaceful protests. Their findings were as a result of Dr Benn breaching a court order on a number of occasions.
  • Dr Benn is registered but has not held a license to practise since 30 August 2022. This means she has not worked as a doctor in the UK since August 2022.
  • If a doctor receives a custodial sentence following civil proceedings, the GMC considers this to be an indicator of the seriousness of their actions and can result in a referral to an independent hearing at the MPTS, similar to our approach to a criminal conviction.
  • While a court order remains in force, any breach will be considered by the legal system and subsequently the GMC.
  • For the first time we have included a new sustainability commitment in our recently-updated professional standards for all UK doctors – Good medical practice. This now has a specific duty that all doctors should choose sustainable solutions.
  • We have also set our own ambitions to become a net zero organisation by 2040.