Baby P doctor wins fresh chance over hearing

A doctor accused of failing to spot that Baby P had a broken back days before his death today won a crucial High Court battle in her bid to avoid a disciplinary hearing.

A judge granted consultant paediatrician Dr Sabah Al-Zayyat a new opportunity to apply for "voluntary erasure" from the medical register on health grounds.



If she is successful, she would not have to appear at any disciplinary hearing.



The GMC says granting the 54-year-old doctor's request would mean derailing the high-profile public misconduct investigation into her care of Baby P which is already under way.



But Mr Justice Mitting, sitting in London, ruled that a decision of a General Medical Council fitness to practise panel to reject her request for erasure was "perverse" and must be quashed.



The judge ruled there was "no sufficient evidential basis" for the panel's decision and ordered that her case be reconsidered by a fresh panel.





The judge said the panel's decision was "in a legal sense perverse" because there was insufficient material to support its rejection of Dr Al-Zayyat's claim that she was "genuinely or involuntarily incapacitated" from taking part in the disciplinary hearing.



He said Robert Englehart QC, appearing for the GMC, had accepted that she was "not putting it on or faking it", and that she hyperventilated and suffered panic attacks when details of the Baby P case were discussed.



Mr Englehart had also accepted as genuine her claim that she was "extremely distressed and felt tortured mentally" and was "a broken-down person".



The judge said he was far from convinced that the disciplinary hearing into her conduct could not go ahead, even if she did not participate.



Dr Al-Zayyat examined 17-month-old Baby P - now named as Peter Connelly - at a child development clinic at St Ann's Hospital in Tottenham, north London, on August 1 2007 while working there as a locum consultant in paediatrics.



But she allegedly missed his injuries after deciding she could not carry out a full check-up because he was "miserable and cranky".



Two days later, Peter died at the hands of his mother, her boyfriend and his brother. They were all jailed in May last year.



A post-mortem examination found he had probably suffered serious injuries, including a broken back and fractured ribs, before he was examined by the doctor, their trial at the Old Bailey heard.



The GMC accuses the doctor of knowing the toddler was on Haringey Council's child protection register but failing to carry out an adequate examination, failing to investigate the explanation offered for his injuries and failing to record whether she considered the possibility that he was the victim of child abuse.



Mary O'Rourke QC, appearing for Dr Al-Zayyat, accused the GMC panel of ignoring "overwhelming" psychiatric evidence that the doctor was genuinely incapacitated by her mental state and could not attend the hearing.



The mental health of the doctor, born in Saudi Arabia, had deteriorated to the point of breakdown after the Old Bailey trial of Baby P's mother and boyfriend, when she felt "hounded" by the press and media.



Ms O'Rourke said: "She very clearly struggled for two years to come to the GMC and defend herself, and then suddenly it became impossible for her to go on".



She suffered panic attacks, became suicidal, and could no longer fight for her reputation and career. Instead she fled to Saudi Arabia and "what she thought of as a place of safety".



There was concern that, if Dr Al-Zayyat was granted voluntary erasure, she would later apply for reinstatement at a time when it would be difficult to resurrect the case against her - "but there was very clear evidence that she was never coming back", said Ms O'Rourke.



Mr Englehart QC argued on behalf of the GMC that the disciplinary hearing was "not a full-blown criminal trial or grand inquisition".



The "ideal" was that Dr Al-Zayyat could attend the hearing.



But if that was not possible for health reasons - and her fear of being hounded by the press - there were other options, including her providing evidence via a video link or in a witness statement.



The judge suggested the medical evidence was that she had now got to the stage where she was not able "to do any, or all, these things".

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Sport
sportSo, how closely were you paying attention during 2014?
Arts and Entertainment
Dennis speaks to his French teacher
tvThe Boy in the Dress, TV review
News
One father who couldn't get One Direction tickets for his daughters phoned in a fake bomb threat and served eight months in a federal prison
people... (and one very unlucky giraffe)
Arts and Entertainment
Joel Edgerton, John Turturro and Christian Bale in Exodus: Gods and Kings
film
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
The Plaza Theatre in Atlanta, Georgia was one of the 300 US cinemas screening
filmTim Walker settles down to watch the controversial gross-out satire
Arts and Entertainment
Amy Adams and Christoph Waltz in Tim Burton's Big Eyes
film reviewThis is Tim Burton’s most intimate and subtle film for a decade
Life and Style
Mark's crab tarts are just the right size
food + drinkMark Hix cooks up some snacks that pack a punch
Arts and Entertainment
Jack O'Connell stars as Louis Zamperini in Angelina Jolie's Unbroken
film review... even if Jack O'Connell is excellent
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Selby Jennings: VP/SVP Credit Quant- NY- Investment Bank

Not specified: Selby Jennings: VP/SVP Credit Quant Top tier investment bank i...

Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executive- City of London, Old Street

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executiv...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: An international organisa...

Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwickshire

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwicksh...

Day In a Page

Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that? The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year

Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that?

The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year
Hollande's vanity project is on a high-speed track to the middle of nowhere

Vanity project on a high-speed track to nowhere

France’s TGV network has become mired in controversy
Sports Quiz of the Year

Sports Quiz of the Year

So, how closely were you paying attention during 2014?
Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry, his love of 'Bargain Hunt', and life as a llama farmer

Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry and his love of 'Bargain Hunt'

From Armstrong and Miller to Pointless
Sanchez helps Gunners hold on after Giroud's moment of madness

Sanchez helps Gunners hold on

Olivier Giroud's moment of madness nearly costs them
A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect