Medical school expels 'teenager' aged 32

John Arlidge Scotland Correspondent
Friday 29 September 1995 23:02


Scotland Correspondent

Brian MacKinnon, the 32-year-old Glaswegian who masqueraded as a 17-year- old schoolboy to go back to his old school in an attempt to become a doctor, lost his last chance of a career in medicine yesterday when Dundee University threw him out of its medical school.

He had won a place at Dundee while posing as Brandon Lee and started his five-year course last year. He was due to resume his studies next week but university officials decided to review his place after he was exposed.

Earlier this week, Mr MacKinnon wrote to Dundee to explain why he had deceived staff and students. He said he was desperate to become a doctor and had decided to go back to secondary school to re-take his higher grade exams and win a place at medical school. He apologised for his subterfuge and indicated that he wanted to continue his studies.

But on Thursday, admissions tutors wrote back saying that his decision to lie about his age meant he could no longer carry on. They told him he had failed to demonstrate the integrity needed to become a doctor.

They had "no sympathy" for him. "Taking all these circumstances into account we are not willing to re-admit you to the medical course in October 1995," the letter said.

Explaining the university's decision yesterday, Professor Denis McDevitt, the Dean of the Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry, said he would be sending out "the wrong signals" to other students if he re-admitted Mr MacKinnon. It would also be unfair to those who had failed to gain a place at the medical school.

The university's decision marks the end of Mr MacKinnon's 15-year dream of becoming a doctor. He first left Bearsden Academy in Glasgow in 1980 and began a medical course at Glasgow University.

But he was forced to leave in 1983 when he twice failed his exams.

After several unsuccessful attempts to get back into medical schools in Scotland and North America, he finally hatched the elaborate plan to go back to Bearsden and start his education again.

He took the bogus name Brandon Lee and posed as a 17-year-old to return to his old school where he gained five A highers and was awarded a place at Dundee, which he took up last year. He left the course at the end of the first term and was due to begin his first year again in the next couple of weeks.

He succeeded in fooling staff and students at Bearsden and Dundee until classmates discovered his true identity when they found his passport.

After yesterday's announcement, Mr MacKinnon said he was "neither surprised nor bitter". "The dean and his colleagues would appear to have collectively found their position untenable, just as I have found mine over a period of 14 years."

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