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Judgment reserved in surgeon case

The High Court has reserved judgment on a bid by an internationally-renowned heart specialist to prevent hearsay evidence being used against him in disciplinary proceedings linked to child abuse allegations.

Philipp Bonhoeffer, who formerly worked at London's Great Ormond Street Hospital, faces accusations of sexually abusing children in Kenya. His case was referred by the General Medical Council to a disciplinary hearing before a Fitness to Practise Panel.

The panel decided to consider hearsay evidence involving a Kenyan now in his late 20s, referred to as "Witness A", who alleges he was a victim of Professor Bonhoeffer while in his early teens.

The disciplinary proceedings were put on hold last November pending the outcome of the legal challenge at London's High Court before Lord Justice Laws and Mr Justice Stadlen against that decision.

Prof Bonhoeffer, who lives in Camden, north London, is temporarily suspended from the medical register.

Reserving judgment to another date after a day-long hearing, Lord Justice Laws described it as "an important and anxious case".

Kieran Coonan QC, appearing for the professor, argued that the panel's decision was "irrational and unlawful" and should be quashed because there would be no opportunity to cross-examine Witness A and test the veracity of his evidence.

The allegations, which were strongly denied, arose from Prof Bonhoeffer's work as a doctor in Kenya "and his association over a considerable period of time with a number of young males who are nationals of Kenya - some not so young now".

The evidence in the majority of charges against him came from "a single source", Witness A. Other individuals Witness A alleged were also victims had refused to support his claims, said Mr Coonan.

Mark Warby QC, for the GMC, argued that there would be no violation of Prof Bonhoeffer's rights to a fair hearing. There would be sufficient safeguards if the hearsay evidence was admitted.


From Belfast Telegraph