Doctor free to practice despite assault conviction

Western General Hospital. Picture: Cate Gillon

Western General Hospital. Picture: Cate Gillon

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A PROMISING young doctor has been cleared to continue his medical career despite being found guilty of assault while on holiday in Spain.

Edinburgh University graduate Dr Kevin Gallagher, 26, faced being struck off as a result of the conviction, which he insists is a miscarriage of justice.

The trainee ­surgeon from Belfast was slapped with a suspended jail sentence of at least six months after an incident which left the victims needing hospital treatment last April.But a Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service panel yesterday ruled that while an assault conviction would usually have left a doctor’s fitness to practise impaired, it found “exceptional circumstances” and said Dr Gallagher posed “no risk”.

The panel added that it had “serious concerns” about his trial and conviction in Malaga in May last year.

Dr Gallagher, who is training at NHS Lothian hospitals including the Western General, is now understood to be planning to fight his conviction at the European Court of Human Rights.

Alibi

The tribunal heard that ­during his trial the judge ­refused to call witnesses who would given him an alibi.

The judge also allowed the alleged victims to identify Dr Gallagher while he was in the dock – after they had been in the same waiting area together – and the panel heard that prosecution witnesses offered to withdraw evidence for cash.

The panel’s verdict said: “The process of the selection of ­prosecution and defence ­witnesses would have been entirely different in this country. The ‘dock identification’ would not have been allowed.

“Had the presiding magistrates or judge, in this country, been made aware of the prosecution witnesses’ willingness to withdraw their evidence in return for money then the trial would have been stopped immediately.”

Character witnesses said he was a “brilliant” medic.

‘Never been violent’

Dr Robby Steel, a consultant psychiatrist at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary, gave a testimonial on behalf of Dr Gallagher.

He said: “He has never to my knowledge shown any propensity towards violence. Whilst I accept that any young man could potentially find themselves caught up in a brawl whilst on holiday, I cannot accept that were this to happen to Kevin he would be anything other than openly remorseful.”

Dr Gallagher, who graduated with honours in 2011, placing him in the top ten per cent of students, used to be vice-president of a charity which helped Edinburgh’s troubled children.

While giving Dr Gallagher wept and told the panel: “I’ve never been violent. I can’t believe that would be attributed to me. I was determined it should have no impact on my job. I made sure I did all my jobs to the best of my ability.”