Child psychiatrist denies prompting patient's abuse allegation

A child psychiatrist accused of prompting a young girl to make allegations of child abuse denied yesterday that he had mishandled her case.

Dr John Eastgate, 53, a consultant at Princess Margaret Hospital in Swindon, Wiltshire, is accused of serious professional misconduct after he told police and social workers that his 13-year-old patient claimed to have been abused by a colleague.

The girl, known as Miss A, had gone to see Dr Eastgate with an eating disorder in 1996. She had previously been treated for a growth disorder by an endocrinologist, referred to as Professor X. Miss A alleged that the professor had stroked her breasts and touched her intimately.

Dr Eastgate contacted the authorities because he was worried that other children might have been at risk, but did not inform the girl's parents. He did not know that Miss A's mother or grandmother had been present at all her appointments with Professor X.

Dr Eastgate is accused of asking leading questions, keeping incomplete records, making public accusations without taking reasonable steps to verify their accuracy and failing to consult the girl's parents.

The case is believed to be the first of its kind. The girl, who was at a public school, became estranged from her family and was taken into care. She made her accusations shortly after attempting suicide with an overdose of antidepressants. She is now reconciled with her parents and is a student at an Oxbridge college, the General Medical Council was told.

On the fourth day of the hearing yesterday, Dr Eastgate denied prompting the girl to make the allegations. "I don't think I was suggesting any answers. I was doing my best to give Miss A choices," he said, and added: "I think it is very clear teenagers are not the most easily manipulated of people." The hearing continues.

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