'Bloodgate' rugby physio wins appeal

Former Harlequins physiotherapist Steph Brennan won a High Court battle today over the decision to strike him off for his part in the "Bloodgate" rugby controversy.

Lawyers for the top physio accused the Health Professions Council (HPC) of unlawfully imposing a "one strike and you are out for good" approach to his case.



They argued that his conduct had merited a sanction, but not one of such "gross severity".



Today Mr Justice Ouseley, sitting at London's High Court, quashed the decision against him and ordered the HPC's conduct and competence committee to reconsider the case.







Brennan had been due to start work with the RFU as an England physio until his role in the systematic use of fake blood capsules during matches was exposed.



He helped fabricate a blood injury to winger Tom Williams during Harlequins' Heineken Cup quarter-final defeat by Leinster at Twickenham Stoop in April 2009.



He admitted five instances of faking blood injuries, the first of which happened during Harlequins' 2005/06 season.



On three occasions this was for player welfare, while Brennan said the fourth was to get an unnamed player in a key position on to the pitch following the sin-binning of a team-mate.



Stephen Brassington, for the HPC, argued that the striking-off order was not open to legal challenge.



He rejected accusations that panel members had failed to give adequate reasons and explain in their decision how they had dealt with Brennan's expressions of sorrow and remorse.



Mr Brassington said: "His expressions of remorse and sorrow simply were too little too late."



Brennan's misconduct "was so egregious and damaging to the reputation of his profession that the only appropriate way to deal with it was striking-off".







Today Mr Justice Ouseley ruled that the reasoning of the HPC's disciplinary committee on its decision to strike off was "legally inadequate".



He said the same committee must now reconsider what sanction to impose in the light of his ruling.



The judge said Brennan's dishonesty had occurred in unusual circumstances.



Patients were not harmed and "what was done was done at the behest of a dishonest coach on behalf of their joint employer".



Although Brennan's actions deserved punishment, that was a matter for rugby's regulatory body, and it was "not the task of the committee when deciding on sanction".



Given that no patient was at risk, the committee's interest in Brennan's case was in deterring similar conduct, protecting the reputation of the profession, or ensuring confidence in the regulatory process, "or all three".



It was concerned with "the relationship between cheating in sport and lying about it" and Brennan's abuse of his position as a physiotherapist to enable cheating to take place.



"This relationship required careful attention if sanction was not to become a further punishment, and the committee did not address this issue in its expressed reasoning," said the judge.



Quashing the striking-off decision, he declared: "The reasoning is legally inadequate, failing to deal with the issues properly raised for its consideration by Mr Brennan."



Paul Harris, appearing for the physio, asked the judge to order a differently constituted panel to reconsider the question of sanction "to avoid the appearance of bias".



Mr Harris emphasised that Brennan was anxious to call fresh evidence to put an end to any lingering doubt "about the genuineness of his contrition and remorse" and it would appear fairer if it was head by a fresh panel.



Mr Harris stressed he was not saying there had been any actual bias.



But the judge said he could see no disadvantage "in terms of perceived unfairness" in referring the matter back to the same panel, while the advantage was that the panel members had already heard all the evidence.



He ordered the HPC to pay Brennan's legal costs of more than £12,000.

News
peoplePaper attempts to defend itself
Voices
voicesWe desperately need men to be feminists too
Life and Style
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer
film
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
tech
News
Mike Tyson has led an appalling and sad life, but are we not a country that gives second chances?
peopleFormer boxer 'watched over' crash victim until ambulance arrived
Arts and Entertainment
Geena Davis, founder and chair of the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media
tv
News
i100
News
Alan Bennett criticised the lack of fairness in British society encapsulated by the private school system
peopleBut he does like Stewart Lee
Sport
John Terry, Frank Lampard
footballChelsea captain sends signed shirt to fan whose mum had died
Arts and Entertainment
Rita Ora will replace Kylie Minogue as a judge on The Voice 2015
tv
News
i100
Life and Style
tech
Life and Style
Alan Turing, who was convicted of gross indecency in 1952, was granted a royal pardon last year
life
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black and Ed Stoppard as her manager Brian Epstein
tvCilla Episode 2 review: Grit under the glamour in part two of biopic series starring Sheridan Smith
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits