GP exonerated after 15 months in prison for 'assault' on patient

A Birmingham GP who served 15 months in prison after being found guilty of sexual assault on a patient has had his conviction overturned after new evidence showed his accuser lied in court.

Dr Mehta outside High Court, London
Dr Mehta outside High Court, London

Dr Raj Mehta, a 65-year-old Birmingham GP who had worked in the NHS for nearly 40 years, was convicted of sexualt assault in April 2018 after he was found guilty of touching a patient’s breast during a consultation.

However, Dr Mehta was exonerated last week by the Court of Appeal after his legal team found evidence that showed the patient had lied under oath.

Medical Protection, the medico-legal organisation that supported Dr Mehta with his appeal, said it would now help him to reverse the GMC’s decision to remove his right to practise.

GP protection

Dr Mehta said he was ‘enormously relieved’ upon hearing the news after ‘three very difficult years’. He said: ‘After my conviction, I lost everything. I lost my career after nearly 40 years of NHS service. I lost my reputation after adverse media coverage, but also following the medical regulator’s decision to strike me off the medical register, instead of waiting for the outcome of the ongoing appeal.

‘I feel very anxious for the medical profession. Doctors work to do their very best for their patients, often in challenging circumstances, and there simply are not adequate protections to safeguard them against the few patients who make false accusations.’

Medical director of Medical Protection Dr Rob Hendry, said: ‘We are delighted that Dr Mehta has been acquitted by the Court of Appeal. He and his family fought hard to clear his name and we are proud to have been able to support them in achieving this outcome.

‘False allegations can cause a loss of reputation, profession and income. Tragically in Dr Mehta’s case, they can also lead to a loss of liberty.'

GP-patient trust

Dr Hendry said trust was 'vital to the doctor-patient relationship'. He added: 'While such cases are very rare, it is vital that support and protection are in place to protect doctors and the wider profession from the threat of false accusations.'

The decision was handed down in the Court of Appeal on 13 December and a full written judgment will be available in the New Year.

Nigel Richardson, criminal defence partner at London solicitors Hodge Jones & Allen, who represented Dr Mehta said: 'The conviction of Dr Mehta was particularly troubling, and it took a great deal of effort to uncover the evidence that undermined the single witness’s account.'

Mr Richardson said Dr Mehta's 'long and distinguished career' had been destroyed and called on the new government to press through reforms to ensure confidence in the justice system was maintained.

Dr Mehta was charged in 2017 over two counts of sexual assault, and was convicted for one. The CPS said the appeal court had quashed the conviction after concluding that 'issues which had come to light following the trial regarding the complainant’s credibility were of such significance that the conviction was unsafe'.

A spokesperson for the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said: 'The material that formed the basis of the grounds of appeal was not in the possession of the CPS at the time of the original trial, and the Court of Appeal did not suggest that that the prosecution had failed in our duties of disclosure.'

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