Professional Discipline & Regulatory
In March 2022, Mark successfully defended a doctor accused of sexual harassment, sexual touching, breaches of confidentiality, sexually motivated conduct and dishonesty at a hearing lasting 3 weeks. All contested allegations were not proved; the limited admissions made were held not to amount to misconduct.
Mark was part of the legal team acting pro bono in recent High Court proceedings challenging the SDT’s highly publicised decision to strike off a young solicitor when she left case papers on a train.
Professional Discipline & Regulatory
Mark has extensive experience across a wide variety of regulatory bodies representing private individuals facing accusations of misconduct and fitness to practise impairment. He acts both at the final fitness to practise hearings and earlier in proceedings where interim orders are sought in respect of the most complex and serious allegations. He welcomes instructions at the investigation stage with a view to contributing to submissions that might avoid FTP proceedings entirely.
Early work involved presenting cases on behalf of the General Dental Council and for Lincoln’s Inn; Mark now acts only for the individual accused by their regulatory body and has defended a diverse spectrum of professionals including teachers, solicitors, pharmacists, accountants, doctors, paramedics and members of the Armed Forces.
He has particular expertise in the defence of those working in the medical and healthcare professions and has successfully protected the careers of a number of paramedics criticised by the HCPC following the deaths of patients in their care. He is adept at familiarising himself with complex clinical and technical issues within other professions and applying that understanding to cross-examination of the professional body’s experts.
Mark has acted in a number of cases involving the developing practice of online treatment and prescribing on behalf of doctors, pharmacists and corporate bodies following misconduct allegations brought by the GMC and the GPhC.
His criminal background makes him particularly effective in the defence of professionals accused of misconduct by reason of the commission of criminal offences, in particular fraud and sexual allegations made by patients or clients.
Mark was part of the legal team acting pro bono for Claire Matthews, a young solicitor struck off for covering-up the loss of case papers on a train, in her successful High Court challenge to the SDT’s decision to strike her from the Roll.
He has acted in a significant number of courts martial throughout his career; in a regulatory context, he recently successfully defended a very senior member of the Armed Forces in respect of a Major Administrative Action for which the recommendation was termination of service; that outcome was avoided.
Mark has previously written and delivered an advocacy training programme to the British Association of Social Workers, and spoken on a wide variety of topics including, most recently, dishonesty in regulatory proceedings for the “PLOD” podcast and sexual offences in professional discipline cases at the postponed Pharmacy Law and Ethics Association Annual Conference in February 2022.
A selection of Mark’s recent cases includes:
- HCPC v H (2022): Successful half time submission following allegations of clinical misconduct by a lead paramedic in treatment of a child in cardiac arrest.
HCPC v B (2021): Successful half time submission in respect of allegations of clinical misconduct and improper administration of medication following a paramedic’s treatment of an inmate at HMP X, who died hours later of internal bleeding.
- HCPC v X (2020): Successfully resisted HCPC’s application for interim suspension for a paramedic alleged to have misinterpreted ECG results and not hospitalised an elderly patient who died of a heart attack later that night.
- HCPC v B (2019): Defence of advanced paramedic working in hospital A&E accused of failing to examine properly a 20 month old child, failing to identify signs of sepsis and failing to provide life-saving treatment. The child died within hours of the examination. B also faced criticism that in over 20 other cases, he failed to undertake competent examinations and/or complete records appropriately. A number of allegations, together with lack of competence contention dismissed on a submission at the end of HCPC case. The only facts proved were those admitted by B and the Panel found no misconduct and thus no FTP impairment.
- HCPC v W (2019): For a paramedic working in police station custody suite examined a detainee who had taken a drug overdose and later died. HCPC pathologist determined cause of death was gastro-intestinal bleed; defence pathologist concluded poly-drug toxicity. Interim order application successfully resisted.
- HCPC v T (2018): Defence of ambulance service paramedic accused of clinical failings in misdiagnosing a patient suffering from a heart attack, instead treating them for a pulmonary embolism. The patient died as a result. Cross-examination of the HCPC’s expert centred upon the interpretation of ECG readings; as a result of fundamental concessions made under questioning by the expert, the principal allegations were dismissed at the conclusion of the HCPC’s case, leaving only two ancillary admitted allegations relating to record keeping and vehicle driving. Misconduct found on one, but no FTP impairment.
- HCPC v R (2017): Ambulance service paramedic found to have failed to diagnose a broken neck in respect of one patient and mistreated two others, one of whom died. All allegations save that relating to the first patient were either not proven or did not amount to a statutory ground. FTP impaired, but no sanction.
- HCPC v S (2021): Findings of misconduct and dishonesty avoided for a paramedic accused of manipulating “green times” to avoid or delay redeployment on ambulance calls.
- GMC v I (2021): Interim order of suspension overturned on review following allegations relating to a doctor’s clinical care, probity, record keeping and billing irregularity.
- M v SRA (2020): Ongoing appellate proceedings in the High Court, acting pro bono, for a solicitor struck off for covering up the loss of client papers on a train.
- HCPC v J (2019): Acting for an air ambulance paramedic who accepted a caution from the police for 54 instances of forgery of prescriptions for controlled drug. Following arguments in respect of Equality Act 2010 treatment of PTSD sufferers, Panel found no FTP impairment on either public or personal grounds.
- HCPC v V (2018): Police station FME cleared of dishonesty allegations founded upon his alleged impersonation of a doctor and the falsification of records.
- SRA v B (2017): Solicitor and firm senior partner struck off having pleaded guilty in the Crown Court to multi-million pound thefts from the probate estates administered by her firm.
Sexual and Physical Abuse Cases
- GMC v H (2022): 3-week FTP hearing for doctor accused of sexual assault, sexual harassment and dishonesty following his employment of a patient during their ongoing course of medical treatment. Comprehensive cross-examination of the complainant lasted 3 days. Save for limited admitted allegations regarding inappropriate text message language which did not amount to misconduct, all allegations were found not proved.
- GMC v J (2022): Doctor imprisoned for repeated breaches of restraining order and harassment offences in respect of a well-known TV personality, accused by the GMC of impaired fitness to practise on the basis of the fact of convictions, misconduct and health. Having heard cross-examination of 3 psychiatrists, Panel was persuaded that impairment could not properly be found on the basis of convictions or misconduct given the diminished culpability of the doctor by reason of her mental health fragility, thereby limiting the available sanction to suspension rather than erasure.
- GMC v H (2021): Junior doctor accused of rape of a patient. Interim suspension order successfully resisted.
- GMC v S (2021): Doctor accused of six counts of sexual assault on a patient made subject to interim conditions of practice order while awaiting trial. Following his acquittal, the GMC continued to pursue the case and to seek conditions. Interim order revoked.
- HCPC v P (2020): Paramedic with 2 assault convictions having attacked in the street his wife and a man with whom he suspected her to be engaged in an affair, repeatedly kicking him as he lay on the ground. 2 year caution order.
- HCPC v G (2020): Paramedic with a conviction for assault occasioning actual bodily harm having attacked a woman outside a bar, straddled her back while she lay on the floor and punched her about the head several times causing suspected fractures. 12 month caution order imposed.
- NCTL v G (2017): Defence of Head of House at a well known public boarding school cleared after a 2 week hearing of all allegations of impropriety.
- NCTL v RM (2016): Acted for a teacher cleared of all allegation following a 2 week hearing concerned with accusations of physical violence and inappropriate, abusive language towards young child and staff.
- Re JH (2022): Leading Counsel for an NHS Trust in a complex inquest arising out of the death of a young mother and the treatment provided to her for rare complications that arose immediately following the birth of her first child. Following difficult and harrowing evidence and comprehensive submissions, the Coroner was persuaded that there was no basis for a conclusion of corporate manslaughter by the Trust or gross negligence manslaughter on the part of individual doctors, consultants and midwives involved in the deceased’s care.
- Re DPB (2022): Acted for a paramedic in an inquest arising out of the death of a suspect detained in police cells following arrest.
The impact of regulatory criticism on someone’s hard earned career can never be understated. Many years of study, work and career achievements balance precariously at the edge of a precipice, to be rendered utterly worthless if the registrant is struck off. I am acutely aware, as a regulated professional myself, of the anxiety that such life-changing consequences might have for a registrant and their family.
The dynamic of these cases is very different from a criminal case where liberty is at stake, but it is no less serious or important. I often think of my own family and how they would suffer if I couldn’t practise at the Bar and how my own wellbeing might suffer. It is no different for a regulated professional, for their mental health and with financial and practical responsibilities like the rest of us. I can empathise with every worry and fear that grips them through these proceedings and I do everything I can to make my clients understand that I care about them and their families as I do about my own.
“I need to become an expert, momentarily, if I’m to cross-examine an expert witness effectively and with authority.”
Much of my work is for medical professionals. The enormous pressure under which they operate, making difficult diagnoses upon which a patient’s life might depend, is often startling. I find the process of educating myself about a particular clinical approach that a conduct panel is to scrutinise a fascinating, forensic challenge – I need to become an expert, momentarily, if I’m to cross-examine an expert witness effectively and with authority.
It is such a privilege to help those on the frontline of healthcare who work tirelessly and often with only modest reward to care for our loved ones. My sister-in-law is a paramedic and I’ve seen how much of her time and emotion she dedicates to her serving her community. I have walked out of court with acquitted defendants who were facing life sentences, but there is no better feeling that walking out of a tribunal hearing with a medical professional whose reputation and career I’ve been able to preserve.