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
Life and Style
Steve Shaw shows Kate how to get wet behind the ears and how to align her neck
healthSteven Shaw - the 'Buddha of Breaststroke' - applies Alexander Technique to the watery sport
Arts and Entertainment
The sight of a bucking bronco in the shape of a pink penis was too much for Hollywood actor and gay rights supporter Martin Sheen, prompting him to boycott a scene in the TV series Grace and Frankie
tv
Sport
footballShirt then goes on sale on Gumtree
Voices
Terry Sue-Patt as Benny in the BBC children’s soap ‘Grange Hill’
voicesGrace Dent on Grange Hill and Terry Sue-Patt
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
Performers drink tea at the Glastonbury festival in 2010
music
Arts and Entertainment
Twin Peaks stars Joan Chen, Michael Ontkean, Kyle Maclachlan and Piper Laurie
tvName confirmed for third series
Sport
Cameron Jerome
footballCanaries beat Boro to gain promotion to the Premier League
Arts and Entertainment
art
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

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine