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".

Voices
voicesGood for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, writes Grace Dent
News
The University of California study monitored the reaction of 36 dogs
sciencePets' range of emotions revealed
Life and Style
fashion Designs are part of feminist art project by a British student
News
Joining forces: young British men feature in an Isis video in which they urge Islamists in the West to join them in Iraq and Syria
newsWill the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?
PROMOTED VIDEO
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
The nomination of 'The Wake' by Paul Kingsnorth has caused a stir
books
Arts and Entertainment
The Tour de France peloton rides over a bridge on the Grinton Moor, Yorkshire, earlier this month
film
News
Snoop Dogg pictured at The Hollywood Reporter Nominees' Night in February, 2013
people... says Snoop Dogg
News
i100
Life and Style
food + drinkZebra meat is exotic and lean - but does it taste good?
Arts and Entertainment
Residents of Derby Road in Southampton oppose filming of Channel 4 documentary Immigration Street in their community
tv
Voices
voicesSiobhan Norton on why she eventually changed her mind
News
i100
Extras
indybest
Sport
Scottish singer Susan Boyle will perform at the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony in Glasgow
commonwealth games
Arts and Entertainment
Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson stars in Hercules
filmReview: The Rock is a muscular Davy Crockett in this preposterous film, says Geoffrey Macnab
Life and Style
tech
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
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

BI Manager - £50,000

£49000 - £55000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client is...

BI Project Manager - £48,000 - £54,000 - Midlands

£48000 - £54000 per annum + Benefits package: Progressive Recruitment: My clie...

VB.Net Developer

£35000 - £45000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: If you're pa...

SAP Business Consultant (SD, MM and FICO), £55,000, Wakefield

£45000 - £55000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: SAP Business...

Day In a Page

Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Climate change threatens to make the antarctic fur seal extinct

Take a good look while you can

How climate change could wipe out this seal
Man Booker Prize 2014 longlist: Crowdfunded novel nominated for first time

Crowdfunded novel nominated for Booker Prize

Paul Kingsnorth's 'The Wake' is in contention for the prestigious award
Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster to ensure his meals aren't poisoned

Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster

John Walsh salutes those brave souls who have, throughout history, put their knives on the line
Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

A $25m thriller starring Sam Worthington to be made in God's Own Country
Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

A land of the outright bizarre
What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

The worst kept secret in cinema

A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

The new hatched, matched and dispatched

Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
Why do we have blood types?

Are you my type?

All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

Honesty box hotels

Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
Commonwealth Games 2014: Why weight of pressure rests easy on Michael Jamieson’s shoulders

Michael Jamieson: Why weight of pressure rests easy on his shoulders

The Scottish swimmer is ready for ‘the biggest race of my life’ at the Commonwealth Games
Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action