Dr Jasinarachchi (J) was a trainee GP in his first year of training. J falsely stated on a Death Certificate and Cremation 4 certificate that he had examined the body of a deceased patient. In fact, he had not seen the body as he was due to fly to Australia and was concerned about missing his flight. The East Midlands Deanery referred the matter to the GMC and J appeared before the Fitness to Practise Panel. The Panel suspended J for a period of six months.
J appealed against the Panel’s decision on sanction on two grounds: that the sanction was excessive and disproportionate in light of the evidence and information before the Panel; and that new evidence had come to light about the practical consequences of suspending a trainee doctor’s registration.
The High Court dismissed the first ground of appeal on the basis that the Panel had considered all factors carefully and was “fully entitled on the information before them to decide this was not an exceptional case warranting no action.”
In respect of the second ground of appeal, J submitted a witness statement in which he stated his understanding that the six month suspension imposed by the Panel was intended to have a temporary impact on his work and not prevent him from continuing training as a GP on a long term or permanent basis. J explained that he had subsequently learned that his suspension will bring his training to an end with no certainty that he will be able to enter an alternative programme afterwards. He exhibited to his statement a letter from the GP Dean of Health Education East Midlands confirming the position.
The Court applied the principles in Ladd v Marshall (recognising however that they are not the sole guiding principles). The principles are: (i) the evidence could not have been obtained with reasonable diligence for use at trial; (ii) the evidence must be such, if given, it would probably have an important influence on the result of the case, though it need not be decisive; and (iii) the evidence must be apparently credible, though it need not be incontrovertible.
Applying those principles to J's case, the Court concluded that although the Dean's letter could have been obtained with reasonable diligence for use at the hearing before the Panel, there was no evidence to suggest that anyone had appreciated the possible consequences of his suspension. The Court considered that the fresh evidence could probably have an important influence on the result of the case and it was clearly credible. The Court held that this "is one of the perhaps rare cases where, notwithstanding that one of the Ladd v Marshall principles has not been complied with, justice requires the fresh evidence to be admitted and for the matter to be considered by the [Panel]."
The appeal was therefore allowed and the case remitted for further consideration on the issue of sanction only.