'Doctor posed as a teenager in e-mail chat'

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The Independent Online

A top doctor posed as a teenage girl called Katie on the internet to swap photos and exchange sexually explicit messages with other youngsters, medical watchdogs heard today.

Dr Thomas Dent claimed to be 13-year-old 'Katie Beckinsale' to e-mail 26 other teenagers using indecent language about sex and underwear, the General Medical Council heard.

He accessed porn websites and swapped photos with youngsters while talking to them in chatrooms about masturbation and orgasms, the hearing was told.

The GP, also a director at the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (Nice) was caught by chance. He was on the train on his way home from Nice on 10 May, 2004, using his laptop to look at a picture of a teenage girl and again posing as Katie.

He sat next to a police special constable saw the files.

Dr Dent, of Newbury, Berkshire was arrested for grooming children but escaped prosecution, after the Crown Prosecution Service decided there was insufficient evidence. Instead he was given a five-year risk of sexual harm order, and a civil order.

At the GMC hearing, in Manchester, he faced a fitness-to-practise panel charged with serious professional misconduct.

The hearing continues.