Rogue surgeon Ian Paterson loses bid for appeal against conviction

Court judges hear rogue surgeon Ian Paterson continues to deny misconduct

Shaun Lintern
Health Correspondent
Tuesday 23 November 2021 17:29
<p>Breast surgeon Ian Paterson is serving a 20-year prison sentence</p>

Breast surgeon Ian Paterson is serving a 20-year prison sentence

A disgraced breast surgeon who performed years of unnecessary operations has lost a bid to challenge his convictions at the Court of Appeal.

Ian Paterson was found guilty of 17 counts of wounding patients with intent, against 10 victims, at Nottingham Crown Court in 2017.

Paterson carried out unnecessary operations in NHS and private hospitals, exaggerating or inventing cancer risks and claiming payments for more expensive procedures.

He was initially handed a 15-year prison term, but Court of Appeal judges increased his sentence to 20 years in 2018.

The court appeal comes as Birmingham and Solihull Coroners are investigating a number of deaths of patients who were treated by Paterson and who later died from breast cancer.

On Tuesday, the former doctor asked three senior judges for the go-ahead to challenge his convictions as unsafe, but was refused.

The court was told that Paterson "denied, and indeed continues to deny, the misconduct of which he was accused at his trial".

His barrister, Joel Bennathan QC, argued that the wrong legal test had been used during Paterson's trial.

He said: "In the end, if the court thinks the law is wrong, then there is a public interest in the court setting the law on the right track."

The court heard the trial prosecution had argued that, although the patients had signed consent forms, they could not consent to the operations because they were based on advice that no responsible body of breast surgeons would have given to the patient.

The prosecution also argued that Paterson knew no responsible group of surgeons would have advised patients in such a way.

In written submissions, Paterson’s barrister argued that consent is only impaired "by deception as to the fundamental nature or purpose of the surgery, or a deception as to the fact that it is a doctor performing it" and there was no basis for the concept of reasonable advice.

Mr Bennathan later questioned whether a doctor who acted in a way they thought was best – even if other doctors disagreed – would be convicted.

"Let us say that a jury took the view that the applicant was arrogant, thought he was better than everyone else... the question I pose rhetorically is whether such a person should be convicted of a criminal offence," he said.

Dame Victoria Sharp, sitting with Mrs Justice Cutts and Sir Nigel Davis, refused the bid and said their reasons will be given in writing at a later date.

Paterson's convictions triggered an independent inquiry which published recommendations in February 2020 after hearing 177 first-hand accounts from the surgeon's former patients.

The inquiry by former Bishop of Norwich, the Rt Rev Graham James, found more than 1,000 patients had needless operations performed on them including surgery on children.

The report found Patterson was “hiding in plain sight” for years and was allowed to harm hundreds of women because of a healthcare system that was “dysfunctional at almost every level” and failed to act when warnings were made about the surgeon. The government has still not fully responded to its recommendations.

In September 2017, more than 750 patients treated by Paterson received compensation payouts from a £37 million fund.

Additional report by agencies

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