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Health News

Doctor admits errors that led to death of Shah's daughter

A doctor who prescribed barbiturates to the Shah of Iran's youngest daughter in the months before she died of an overdose admitted disciplinary charges yesterday which could see him struck off the medical register.

Dr Mangad Iqbal had issued repeat prescriptions for controlled drugs without having met Princess Leila Pahlavi and without having any first-hand information about her medical history, the General Medical Council was told.

The 31-year-old princess, who had a history of psychological problems and drug abuse, was found dead in bed at a £3,150-a week hotel suite in central London last June. A combination of cocaine, painkillers and quinal barbitone, a sedative, was found in her body and 16 different types of tablets were found in her room.

The Westminster coroner, Paul Knapman, who recorded a verdict last year of death from non-dependent drug abuse, ordered a Home Office inquiry into Dr Iqbal's prescribing methods.

At yesterday's GMC hearing, Dr Iqbal, of the Brompton Medical Centre in Earl's Court, west London, admitted a string of charges, including action that was "inappropriate, irresponsible and not in the interests of Miss Pahlavi."

Professor Kenneth Hobbs, chairman of the committee, said: "At no time during your dealings with Ms Pahlavi did you give any or any sufficient weight to the possibility that she was addicted to barbiturates."

Dr Iqbal, who qualified in Bangalore, India, in 1967, said in a statement that he may have "allowed himself to become overawed" by the princess, who had once modelled for Valentino. He added: "I deeply regret it. One mistake is too many for me."

The unmarried princess, who was the Shah's fifth child, was born into a life of opulence and privilege in Tehran in 1970. She escaped from Iran with her family during the 1979 revolution and later led a "jetset" lifestyle travelling between homes in New York, Paris and London.

But she suffered from mood swings, anorexia and bulimia. She had spent time at the Priory Clinic in Roehampton and had consulted specialists in Britain and America. At night, she claimed to have taken 40 tablets of the sedative Rohypnol to help her sleep and during the day she took up to 30 different tranquillisers.

A friend found her body on June 10 at the Leonard Hotel in Marble Arch. She died of quinal barbitone poisoning.

The GMC hearing, to decide whether Dr Iqbal is guilty of serious professional misconduct, continues.