Like the Mississippi, Kate Middleton’s posts just keep rolling along. They roll on full flood, for ever and ever, a relentless flow of swirling words. But she gets away with it. She has the gift of words, and writes well. And – more to the point – what she has to say on her blog is of the greatest importance.
Middleton’s blog concerns an alleged sexual assault on her by a junior psychiatrist. The events happened nearly thirty years ago, in 1982, and there are those who say that they are so far in the past that it is time to let things be. Dr No does not agree. A sexual assault is a sexual assault, whether it happened yesterday, or many years ago. The passage of time cannot lessen its gravity. The fact that the alleged assault was carried out by a junior doctor on a minor – Middleton was 17 at the time – only serves to aggravate the gravity.
Middleton has lodged a complaint with the General Medical Council against the doctor concerned. The passage of time has seen that doctor – a Dr Khoosal – rise through the profession, and he is now an eminent consultant psychiatrist specialising in, amongst other things, gender identity, which is relevant: Middleton first presented all those years ago because, although at the time she appeared male, and had been brought up as a boy, she believed she was in fact female.
The allegation against Dr Khoosal is that he, as an inexperienced junior psychiatrist, carried out an inappropriate and unconsented genital examination on Middleton. It is further alleged that he submitted Middleton to a barrage of sexual questions conducted in an intrusive and insensitive manner. The effect of the whole on Middleton was highly traumatic, and led to the development of post-traumatic stress disorder, from which she still suffers, and numerous other difficulties, well documented on her blog.
The GMC, with typical perversity, have thrown the complaint out, citing the both the five year rule – that a complaint must be lodged within five years of the most recent events giving rise to the complaint – and a lack of corroborating evidence. Neither reason makes any sense.
Now, the five year rule, it should be noted, requires that a complaint be lodged within five years of the most recent events giving rise to the complaint. Not the original event, but the most recent events. As it happens, Middleton did not obtain copies of her notes until 2004. However you look at it, getting hold of the notes is a significant event in the process of establishing – and so giving rise to – a complaint. Dr No is no mathematician, but even he can do the sums to show that the interval between the most recent event (2004) and the date of lodging the complaint (2008) is less than five years. The GMC have no grounds for applying the five year rule.
And – even if they did, which they do not – they are able to vary the five year rule should a complaint merit investigation in the public interest. An allegation of sexual assault by a doctor on a vulnerable minor cannot be considered trivial. And yet – in what can only be described as an eye-wateringly bizarre remark – the GMC’s ‘Investigation Manager’ assessing the complaint – the infamous Anna Neill – said in a 2009 email that explained her reasons for dropping the case:
“Next, the gravity of the allegation was considered. Taken at face value the allegation of sexual assault is serious, but this type of allegation can cover various different degrees of culpability. From the statement made to the Police it appears that the described assault was in the context of a clinical examination. Whilst this does not diminish the effect this examination had on you, nor does it excuse the alleged inappropriate conduct of Dr Khoosal, this does lessen the gravity of the allegation of sexual assault.”
Remember, these are the GMC’s own words. If we take out all the padding, what we have is: “It appears that the described assault was in the context of a clinical examination [and] this does lessen the gravity of the allegation of sexual assault”. So – if Dr No dresses up in a white coat and gooses a unconsenting patient who is also a minor, all the while calling it a clinical examination, that is somehow less grave than if he drops his title and white coat and does the same thing to any other non-consenting minor?
To Dr No, it seems that an alleged assault conducted in a clinical setting, far from being less grave, is in fact more grave, precisely because it potentially abuses a vulnerable minor in position of trust. And yet the GMC – by deciding as it has – is sending out a clear message that such abuse is less grave. So much so, it would appear, that the case does not – regardless of the five year rule – merit investigation in the public interest.
Dr No has seen the medical records from 1982. They, now that they have come to light, do provide corroborating evidence (so removing the GMC’s other reason for not proceeding with the case). And while of course he was not present at the time, and so cannot know whether the allegations are true or not, it does seem, from the notes made at the time, that there is, at the very least, a strong case to answer. It is high time the GMC pulled its finger out and got on with the investigation.