Intended for healthcare professionals

News Roundup [abridged Versions Appear In The Paper Journal]

GMC member forced to stand down from disciplinary panel

BMJ 2001; 322 doi: (Published 30 June 2001) Cite this as: BMJ 2001;322:1565
  1. Clare Dyer, legal correspondent
  1. BMJ

    A controversial member of the General Medical Council had to stand down from a disciplinary panel last week after allegations that she had made “biased remarks” and prejudged the outcome of the case.

    Jennifer Colman, one of five members hearing the case of Peter Robson, a GP accused of sexually harassing three female patients and a receptionist, was asked by Dr Robson's counsel to withdraw from the case. After an hour long discussion in private with the other members, she stood down voluntarily.

    Dr Colman, aged 57, told Dr Robson during the hearing: “You will have an uphill struggle to persuade me that you are safe to treat vulnerable patients… How can you prove to me that you are safe to treat vulnerable female patients?”

    After Dr Colman-formerly known as Dr Colman-Archer-was elected to the GMC last year, it emerged that many of the doctors who had voted for her were unaware that she herself had been struck off for serious professional misconduct in 1987. The GMC was criticised by doctors for failing to inform them fully about her background while she was standing for election (BMJ 2000;320:1357).

    She was erased from the register for being rude to colleagues and failing to provide adequate treatment to patients. She also had convictions for driving while four times over the alcohol limit, failing to provide a breath specimen, and driving while disqualified.

    She was restored to the register in 1989 but gave up medicine. She later qualified as a barrister and describes herself as a “non-practising barrister.”

    Christina Lambert, counsel for Dr Robson, said that during the hearing Dr Colman had repeatedly raised her eyebrows and shaken her head while listening to the women's evidence.

    Dr Robson, aged 36, from Irby, Wirral, was later found guilty of serious professional misconduct and suspended from practice for a year. He was advised to seek retraining on interpersonal skills.