Harrison's doctor to lose job as director of cancer unit

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The Independent US

A leading American cancer doctor is to lose his position as director of oncology at a New York hospital amid allegations that he took advantage of George Harrison, the former Beatle, by forcing him to sign a guitar in his dying days.

Officials at the Staten Island University Hospital confirmed that Dr Gilbert Lederman is to be removed from his post but they denied that the change was connected to the growing controversy over his treatment of the pop star.

The family of Mr Harrison, who died from cancer at the hospital in November 2001, aged 58, are suing Dr Lederman for the abuse of the doctor-patient relationship. The suit claims the doctor grabbed Mr Harrison's hand and forced him to autograph the guitar.

But the "most offensive, insensitive and inappropriate act", the suit says, came when Dr Lederman brought his three children to the hospital and forced Mr Harrison to listen to one of them playing the guitar.

The family has also accused Dr Lederman of creating a "circus atmosphere" by talking with reporters while Mr Harrison was being treated.

Last year, Dr Lederman was formally rebuked by the New York State Department of Health for talking publicly about Mr Harrison's condition, breaking confidentiality rules.

Hospital officials said the removal of Dr Lederman had "absolutely nothing to do with George Harrison or any issues concerning patient care", and had been under mutual discussion for some time.

Dr Lederman, who has worked at the hospital for 20 years, has pledged to give the autographed guitar to charity but Mr Harrison's family has rejected the offer.