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Surgeon who said covid-19 was a hoax loses appeal to have suspension overturned

BMJ 2023; 381 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.p810 (Published 06 April 2023) Cite this as: BMJ 2023;381:p810
  1. Clare Dyer
  1. The BMJ

The High Court has upheld a decision to suspend a senior surgeon from the UK medical register for six months for airing conspiracy theories on YouTube denying the existence of covid-19.1

Mohammad Adil appealed against the decision last June by a medical practitioners tribunal, arguing that it infringed his right to free speech under the European Convention on Human Rights.

But the judge, Mr Justice Swift, noted that the right under article 10 of the convention may be restricted where necessary in the interests of public safety, for the protection of public health, and for the protection of the rights of others. The tribunal’s decisions were not disproportionate interference with Adil’s article 10 rights, he concluded.

Swift explained, “What he said was to the effect that the SARS-CoV-2 virus did not exist; that the pandemic was a result of a conspiracy between the United States, the United Kingdom, and the Israeli governments to impose a new world order and was being exploited for profit by pharmaceutical companies, reputable medical organisations, and Bill Gates. He further contended that Mr Gates had infected the world with SARS-CoV-2 virus to sell vaccines that would be given to all, by force if necessary, might contain microchips to further the ‘agenda’ of 5G mobile technology, and would be used to control or reduce the worlds’ population.

“All this was outlandish. None of this was mitigated by the fact that Mr Adil was ‘outside work’; where or when the YouTube videos were made is largely immaterial, what mattered was that Mr Adil used his position as a doctor to promote an opinion on a matter of medical importance. Nor is it material that Mr Adil was not acting in the course of treating any patient.”

Adil, who qualified in Pakistan in 1986 and had spent decades working for the NHS, was a locum consultant colorectal surgeon at North Manchester Hospital NHS Trust at the time. He was suspended on an interim basis for 12 months pending the tribunal hearing.2

He uploaded the videos to video sharing platforms between April 2020 and late September 2020. The tribunal, which acknowledged that he was a competent surgeon, decided that his comments undermined public health and confidence in the medical profession.

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