Ian Tomlinson death investigation doctor Freddy Patel may face axe


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The Independent Online

A pathologist could face being struck off over his part in the investigation into the death of Ian Tomlinson during the G20 protests.

Dr Freddy Patel was found by a medical tribunal to be misleading, dishonest and liable to bring his profession into disrepute over parts of his handling of the post-mortem examination of Mr Tomlinson's body.

The pathologist, who is currently suspended, concluded that newspaper seller Mr Tomlinson died from a heart attack, but questions were raised when an American tourist came forward with a film recording of him being hit.

Further medical reports suggested that in fact he died from an injury to his liver that caused internal bleeding and then cardiac arrest.

At the inquest into Mr Tomlinson's death, Dr Patel's claim that Mr Tomlinson died of a heart attack was discredited by the jury in favour of the string of experts who said he died of internal bleeding.

Dr Patel now faces a hearing into whether he is fit to practise, arranged by the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service (MPTS) on behalf of the General Medical Council.

One potential outcome of the hearing is that Dr Patel will be struck off.

Ahead of the hearing, the MPTS fitness to practise panel have released their findings of fact in the case, which have found Dr Patel to be misleading, dishonest and liable to bring his profession into disrepute over certain aspects of his second post-mortem report.

The panel also identified a string of failures in both his first and second reports.

Among them, Dr Patel admitted not including in his first report that he mentioned to police during the examination that he found injuries that could be consistent with a baton strike.

The panel found that Dr Patel did not properly consider or comment on the fact that abdominal bleeding found on Mr Tomlinson could have caused his collapse and death.

They also found that the pathologist did not adequately explain how Mr Tomlinson could have died from a heart attack or adequately consider any other possible non-natural causes of his death.

After receiving new evidence, Dr Patel compiled a second post-mortem report on the same day, April 6 2010, but again made a series of mistakes and incorrect conclusions, according to the panel.

The panel found Dr Patel to be dishonest as he did not identify changes made to his first report referring to Mr Tomlinson's liver injuries, downplaying signs of bleeding by saying there was "no sign of haematoma" on his liver.

He also failed to comment on the significance of these changes, which was misleading, the panel found.

In the second report, Dr Patel wrongly concluded that Mr Tomlinson died of a heart attack, and wrongly concluded that "death could not have been due to haemorrhage" and "the injury to the liver was relatively minor", the panel found.

Dr Patel also wrongly concluded that "there were no significant marks of violence from assault or forceful restraint" despite having seen CCTV footage of Mr Tomlinson being hit with a baton by a policeman.

The panel will now start considering whether the proven facts indicate that Dr Patel's fitness to practise was impaired, in a hearing expected to last for three weeks.

They will sit in Manchester today and tomorrow before relocating to London for three days so that Dr Patel can give evidence in person.

Last month, Pc Simon Harwood was cleared of the manslaughter of Mr Tomlinson in 2009. He said he had used reasonable force when he hit the 47-year-old with a baton and shoved him to the ground as he walked away from police lines in the City of London.

Mr Tomlinson had been homeless for several years during his life and was a heavy drinker, suffering from cirrhosis of the liver.