Disgraced breast surgeon Ian Paterson has launched a bid to have his conviction for putting women through unnecessary surgery overturned, in a move that has left victims devastated.
Officers from West Midlands Police have contacted victims of the surgeon to warn them that he has begun the appeal process.
Paterson was jailed in 2017 after being convicted of 17 counts of wounding with intent and three counts of unlawful wounding, after he subjected more than 1,000 women to operations they didn’t need or that left them dangerously at risk of their cancer returning.
The appeal bid comes despite a recall of 11,000 of the surgeon’s former patients this year, which has led to private hospital company Spire Healthcare admitting the existence of more previously unknown victims and setting up a new £22m fund to compensate patients and support their care.
Victims of the surgeon, who operated on women both through the NHS and in private hospitals for more than 14 years, said news of his appeal bid had left them shocked and angry.
Deborah Douglas, a victim of Paterson who fought for an independent inquiry and supports other women affected, told The Independent: “I can’t believe he has a hope in hell. It is him trying to get back control; he is playing games and it can’t be a coincidence that this is coming in the middle of the recall and inquests being held by the coroners.”
Coroners in Birmingham have launched new inquests into the deaths of some of Paterson’s patients who died after being treated by him, on the grounds that their deaths “may have been caused or contributed to by acts or omissions” by Paterson and other clinicians.
The coroners were asked to consider the deaths by West Midlands Police in relation to concerns that some of Paterson’s patients may have died as a result of his unapproved “cleavage-sparing” mastectomies, which left behind breast tissue in some cancer patients, risking a return of the disease.
Ms Douglas added: “When I received the email from the police I was shocked and angry that he could do this after four years. It brings back all the feelings for lots of us. People are worried they might have to go to court, and some women live in fear of seeing him.”
Another woman harmed by Paterson, writer Tracy King, said: “This news brings back so much trauma for those of us affected by Paterson. We can never be free of the physical scars, but we might have a chance to heal the emotional scars if only he left us in peace to do so.
“Attempting an appeal is cruel, and speaks to the entitlement and denial that have defined this case.”
A message sent to victims by police officers, which was seen by The Independent, confirms that Paterson has lodged an application for leave to appeal against his conviction.
This will mean a hearing in open court to determine whether his application should go ahead to the Court of Appeal.
No date for a hearing has yet been set.
An inquiry led by the former Bishop of Norwich, Rev Graham James, found Paterson was able to hide in plain sight due to a “dysfunctional” healthcare system and the “wilful blindness” of some NHS managers.
It found that, between 1998 and 2011, more than 6,600 patients were treated by Ian Paterson at Spire Healthcare. He also treated more than 4,400 NHS patients. The report reveals that he also carried out unnecessary surgery on children.