Doctor 'deceived hospitals over abortion patient'

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The Independent Online
A gynaecologist coached a woman how to deceive hospitals into admitting her so that he could perform two illegal abortions on her, an Old Bailey court was told yesterday.

Dr Ramanlal Aggrawal, 47, of Ilford, east London, told Nighat Shaheen to use a false address, give his home telephone number and attend at the weekend when he was on duty as a locum registrar.

'The defendant was organising all of this and in bad faith,' Christopher Mitchell, for the prosecution, said. Dr Aggrawal denies procuring two illegal abortions in August and December 1986.

Mr Mitchell told the court that Nasir Khan, Ms Shaheen's married lover, approached Dr Aggrawal asking for an abortion. He arranged for Ms Shaheen, then aged 27, to attend the West Middlesex hospital, Isleworth.

'He was fairly high up in the hierarchy, with authority, so that people would accept what he said about a particular situation without query,' Mr Mitchell said.

Ms Shaheen arrived at the accident and emergency unit on 2 August 1986 complaining, falsely, that she had been bleeding for three days. This was consistent with a partial miscarriage. Dr Aggrawal knew that a woman with such symptoms would be brought to him. He then performed an abortion, the court was told.

Four months later Mr Khan rang Dr Aggrawal to arrange a second abortion. Ms Shaheen was admitted to the Chase Farm Hospital, Enfield, Middlesex, on 13 December 1986. Although Dr Aggrawal operated, he later discovered that she was not pregnant. 'This does not affect the criminality of his actions,' Mr Mitchell said.

Although both operations were carried out on the National Health Service, Mr Mitchell suggested that Dr Aggrawal was probably paid for the operations. Two days after the second operation he visited Nasir Khan, for 'business' reasons.

'He was very eager to see Mr Khan and tried to make contact with him all weekend. Why was he so eager to see him after this particular operation?' Mr Mitchell asked. When Dr Aggrawal went to Mr Khan's home he was told by a police officer that Mr Khan had been murdered. Dr Aggrawal was then asked to make a witness statement. In it he claimed that Ms Shaheen was a family friend.

'He acted in bad faith throughout and deliberately told the police lies because he had been operating illegally and he wanted to protect his own back,' Mr Mitchell said.

Shiv Bagga, a pharmacist from East Ham, east London, told the court that he met Dr Aggrawal in 1986.

After several meetings he told Dr Aggrawal that women often asked him for advice on abortions. 'He told me to refer them to him, that he would be able to help them and that I would get some money for introducing the patients to him. He then gave me his home telephone number,' Mr Bagga said.

However, Mr Bagga agreed that he had not mentioned the subject of money in a statement that he made to the police in 1986. 'They did not ask me about it,' he told the court.

The trial continues today.