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Statement madeonbehalf of theClaimant


Witness: Jennifer ElaineRitaColman
Dateof Statement: 14
th
January2005
INTHE HIGHCOURT OF JUSTICE CASE Nos: U20040178
QUEENSBENCH DIVISION BM312260
BIRMINGHAM DISTRICT REGISTRY
BETWEEN DR RITA PAL Claimant
- and-
(1) GENERAL MEDICAL COUNCIL
(2) CATHERINE GREEN
(3) PETER LYNN
(4) SARAH BEDWELL Defendants
___________________________________________________________________
WITNESSSTATEMENT OF JENNIFER ELAINE RITA COLMAN
___________________________________________________________________
I, Dr Jennifer ElaineRitaColman, will say:
1. I amaregisteredmedical practitioner andwasanelectedmedical member of the
General Medical Council from28April 2000until 30June2003. I holdthe
qualificationsof Bachelor of ArtsandMaster of ArtsfromtheUniversity of
Cambridge, LicentiateinMedicineandSurgeryfromtheSocietyof Apothecaries
inLondon, TheCommonProfessional LawExaminationfromNottinghamLaw
School andMaster of LawsfromtheLondonSchool of Economics. I havealso
beenCalledtotheBar andamregisteredwiththeBar Council asanonpractising
Barrister. I act asanadvisor toethnic minoritydoctors.
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2. I waselectedtotheGeneral Medical Council (GMC) asaresult of aby-election
in2000andheldsome3,500majorityover anyother electeddoctor onthecouncil.
Theelectoratewasthewholeof theregistereddoctorsinEngland. It wasmy
positionthat I waselectedtoserveinthepublic interest andnot torepresent
individual doctorsontheCouncil. It ismy positionthat thetruemedical interest is
thesameasthepublic interest whenservingontheGeneral Medical Council.
3. WhenI waselectedtherewasanamount of publicity surroundingmyelection.
However this waslargely asaresult of averysmall number of peoplewithinthe
medical profession, whomI subsequentlyfoundhadalongandcontinuous
relationshipdirectly withtheOfficeof thePresident andChief Executiveinthe
Council. It isalsocorrect tosaythat in1987I waserasedfromthemedical register
andrestoredin1989, at whichtimetherewasanadmissionby theChairmanof the
panel that I shouldnot havebeenbeforetheCommitteein1987or at all. Evidence
hasnowcometolight that leadsmetobelieve, asI didat thetime, that mattershad
not beendealt withfairly or properlywithintheGMC andthat theydidnot use
their procedurescorrectly, but that anassistant registrar hadmadeadecisionto
erasemebasedonhisownopinionthat I wasseriously mentally ill andheplaced
his owndiagnosisuponmewithout anyknowledgeor justificationI canoffer
evidenceif askedinsupportof this. Thesenior partner of LeBrasseurs, solicitors,
alsorecordedthat his opinionwasthat this personwasactingbeyondhis powers. It
isrelevant alsofor metorefer tothefact that this mayhavewell beentriggeredin
part by mycomplaint asajunior doctor, tomyClinical School about the
inadequacies of thejobI wasinfor trainingpurposesandabout my immediate
senior doctor, whorefusedtogivemecover ashis junior at night whenI wason
takefor emergency admissions. Patient safetywascompromisedonseveral
occasionsasaresult. Andthefact that I hadcomplainedinwritingwasheld
against me. I havereferredtothis matter for tworeasons. Firstly it isbecausethere
will beadeterminedattempt tounderminemy personal credibilityasawitness,
whichiswrong. Secondly becauseit goestotheheart of thestorywhichDr Pal has
alwaysheldtoinher case.
4. I readanarticleabout Dr Pal intheSundayTimes inApril 2000. That wasthefirst
timeI hadheardabout her andI knewfrommy ownexperiencetherewasmore
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likely thannot sometruthinwhat shehadsaid. However I alsothought at thetime
that shewouldplaceherself inadangeroussituationpersonally andprofessionally
for speakingout assuchajunior doctor andit wasreminiscent of mymuchearlier
experience. Soonafter thearticleappearedI spoketoadoctor whoknewDr Pal, Dr
Ilagaratne, whoput meintouchwithher. AsDr Pal wasayoungdoctor I felt I
shouldspeak toher aboutthepotential problemsshemight befacinghavinggone
public onmatterswhichmost doctorsknowandexperiencebut fewdarespeak
about. I subsequently hadtwolengthy conversationswithDr Pal by telephone. She
toldmeabouther family andher experiencesasjunior doctor intheTrust. I told
her about mineandalsotoldher that shewouldmorelikely thannot findherself at
thereceivingendof aninvestigationandthat matterswouldbeturnedagainst her.
Dr Pal isthereforecorrect whenshereferstothis conversation, whichwehad.
5. At thetimeDr Pal seemedconvincedthat inspiteof what hadhappenedtomeand
myadvicetoher tobemorecircumspect, that nothingwouldhappentoher. I put
this downtoher youthandlack of lifeexperience. Her problems hadoccurredafter
leavingher Londonteachinghospital andhavingajobinaprovincial hospital,
whichcanoftenbeashocktoanewdoctor havingcomefromawell staffedhighly
regardedteachinghospital. AlthoughI hadnot met Dr Pal, I didnot consider her
irrational whenwespokebut I realisedshewasbraver thanmost. Followingthe
conversationswhichI hadwithDr Pal I hadnomorecontact until May2004, when
shesuddenly sent meanE-mail remindingmeof our earlier conversationsand
askedif I couldhelpher. At that timeI thought I coulddoverylittleandE-mailed
her withtheonly knowledgeI hadof what hadoccurredtoher subsequently
throughtheGMC.
6. I amalsoawareof thefact that Dr Pal subsequentlywroteaboutmeunfavourably
andmistakenly onher websitebut I holdnoanimosity for her for that andhavetold
her that, andshehasexpressedher regret. However, shehadmistakenly believed
that I wasactingonbehalf ontheGMC whenI spoketoher andhadwrittenthat on
her website. Havingreflectedonwhat I toldher inmyE-mail of replyinMay2004
I realisethat I cangiveevidencetosupport her story.
7. Oneof thethingsI toldDr Pal inMay2000isthat shewouldbepursuedbythe
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GMC andthat after shesent her dossier of complaintstotheCouncil andwasthen
invitedtoseetheir solicitorsthat that wouldbeapoint wheninquiries wouldmore
likely thannot start tobemadeintoher rather thanher complaints. It seemsthis
wasthecase. I havedirect experienceof twoother junior doctorswhohavemade
complaintsingoodfaithtotheCouncil andinbothcasesthesecomplaintshave
beenignoredandleft inabeyancewhilst aninquiryhasgoneonaroundthe
complainant without their knowledgeandinformationhasbeentrawledfromothers
inorder totryandbuildacaseagainst thecomplainant. Bothof thesedoctorshave
subsequentlybecomethefocusof theCouncilsFitnesstoPractiseproceduresand
caseshavebeenraisedagainst them. AlthoughDr Pal isaBritishAsian, it maybe
of somenotethat bothof theother doctorsareoverseas doctorswhowerewell
settledintheUK andthecomplaintswereagainst consultantsandinvolved
questionablepractiseandpatient safety.
8. Theonly timewhenI discussedDr Pal at theGMC waswhenSir DonaldIrvine,
thethenpresident hadinvitedmetohavelunchwithhimon23June2000inthe
small diningroomat 44HallamStreet. Theonly other personpresent wasMiss
Isabel Nisbet, thethenDirector of FitnesstoPractise. Duringthecourseof that
conversationwetouchedonanumber of topicsincludingmyexperiencesasa
junior doctor. It wasat that timethat I toldSir DonaldIrvinethat I hadhadthe
conversationswithDr Pal andthat I hadadvisedher that sheshouldnot write
thingsonher websitewhich, nomatter howvalidtheywere, wouldmorelikely be
usedagainst her bytheGMC andthat shewouldbesubjectedtoahealthinquiryas
thebest wayfor themtoundermineher credibility bothpersonally and
professionally wouldbetospreadtheviewthat shewassufferingfroma
psychiatric disorder. Neither thePresident nor Isabel Nisbet madeanyattempt to
denythis or that theywouldbeginaninquiryaroundDr Pal. Thereappearedtobe
animplicit understandingbetweenusthat this washowtheydidtheir businessand
that inviewof myownpast experienceswiththem, thenI wouldknowthat that
wasthecase. It wasonly veryrecently that I realisedthat evenasI sat discussing
this withthePresident theGMC hadalready startedaninquiryintoDr Pal.
9. TheGMC doesnot always act oncomplaints fromcomplainantsbut oftenusesthe
right toraiseacaseagainst adoctor by wayof information. Thisiswhat appearsto
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havebeendoneinthecaseof Dr Pal whenshecomplainedin theyears2000.
Informationiscirculatedaroundandageneral trawl done. Thiscanlast for a
number of yearsuntil theGMC believes it hasraisedenoughinformationtowrite
tothedoctor havingopenedacaseagainst that doctor. It appearsthat this iswhat
hadbeengoingonaroundDr Pal, whowasunawareof it until sheservedaSubject
AccessOrder ontheGMC andfoundwhat theyhadbeendoing. I didthesamein
2002andwasshockedtofindwhat theyhadbeenwritingabout mefor over two
years. Other doctorshavealsoinvokedtheir right tohavetheir datafromtheGMC
by thismethodandfoundtheimplications for themthroughthis unreasonable
trawl.
10. I havehadcontact withDr Pal for somemonthsnowandI havenodoubt because
of my ownandfromwhat I knowof other doctorsexperiencesthat sheisright in
her claimsabout thebehaviour of theGMC anditsemployees. Hersit not an
isolatedcase. I still havenodoubt, asfar asI amabletojudge, that Dr Pal isnot
irrational andinanyevent sheisstill inpractiseandwouldnot besoif therewas
anyquestionabout her fitness topractise, giventheconcertedeffort toundermine
her credibility andremoveher frompractiseanddamageher professionally.
Statement of Truth
I believethat thefactscontainedinthis statement aretrue,
Signed:..
Dr Jennifer ElaineRitaColman
Dated: 14January 2005
INTHE HIGHCOURT OF JUSTICE
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QUEENSBENCH DIVISION
BIRMINGHAM DISTRICT REGISTRY
CaseNumbers:
U20040178
BM312260
BETWEEN
DR RITA PAL Claimant
-and-
(1) GENERAL MEDICAL COUNCIL
(2) CATHERINE GREEN
(3) PETERLYNN
(4) SARAH BEDWELL Defendants
__________________________________
WITNESSSTATEMENT OF
JENNIFER ELAINE RITA COLMAN
___________________________________