Cancer researcher faces ban over child porn

Dana Faratian showed Prince Charles round the Breakthrough breast cancer unit when it opened in May 2008. Picture: Esme Allen
Dana Faratian showed Prince Charles round the Breakthrough breast cancer unit when it opened in May 2008. Picture: Esme Allen
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A LEADING cancer researcher who admitted downloading “frankly disgusting” images of child pornography while working at the University of Edinburgh faces being struck off.

Dr Dana Faratian was sacked from his prestigious post after a police raid on his Newington home recovered sickening images from his computer.

Now the 35-year-old has been put before a tribunal held by the General Medical Council (GMC) to decide if he can continue to practice.

The father-of-two said he accessed child pornography at a “pretty appalling” time in his life when his wife had just left him and his father and grandmother had died.

Faratian told the tribunal held in Manchester yesterday that viewing the abuse on a notorious Romanian-based website had been a form of “self-medication” and claimed that he found the material “quite simply horrible”.

Police searched his flat in December 2011 and found 151 indecent images of girls aged between six and 14 on his computer, including those assessed at Level 5 – the most serious category.

A leading researcher in his field, Faratian gave Prince Charles a tour of the Breakthrough breast cancer unit at the Western General Hospital during its official opening in May 2008. At the time of his arrest, Faratian was principal researcher on a £150,000 project into colon cancer funded by the charity Medical Research Scotland.

After pleading guilty at Edinburgh Sheriff Court in August 2012 to a charge of possessing indecent images, the shamed doctor was ordered to complete a community payback order, with supervision for three years, and placed on the sex offenders register.

Faratian referred himself to the GMC after his arrest, and has been suspended from the register since July 2012.

At the tribunal, Faratian told the panel he had a 20-year history of accessing adult pornography, which culminated in viewing abusive images of children at the end of 2011.

He said: “I am not mitigating anything I have done, but in the run-up to viewing the abusive images of children, that was during a time where a lot of things had happened and I felt pretty appalling at that time.”

Faratian said that his grandmother and father had died at the start of 2011, followed shortly afterwards by the birth of his son and his paediatrician wife leaving him and moving to Leeds.

He said: “It has taken me the last two years to understand why I was looking at pornography. Clearly there is a sexual gratification attached to it, but also it is very clear that as my behaviour progressed it was to do with self-medication and coincided with periods of difficulty in my life.”

Faratian described a “morbid curiosity” that led him to go back to the sites containing child abuse and referred to the most extreme images as “frankly disgusting”.

The medic broke down as he recalled the “life-shattering” affect his actions had on his family, not least his six-year-old daughter and two-year-old son, whom he has not seen for more than two years.

Now with a new partner, Faratian claimed he had not accessed any pornography since his arrest.

In his work as a researcher and histopathologist, Faratian has not treated a patient since 2003 and claimed he would not be a risk to the public if allowed to remain in the profession.

Faratian could be struck off by the panel while other sanctions include conditional registration or suspension up to one year.

The hearing continues.