No5’s Charles Crow wins unfair and wrongful dismissal claim for top surgeon

Barrister Charles Crow from No5 Chambers has won an unfair and wrongful dismissal claim for a top surgeon who was dismissed for alleged sexual harassment of two female trainee doctors.

The surgeon was dismissed by NHS Oxford University Trust after he allegedly made sexual advances towards two female trainee doctors who were supervised by him. He was accused of begging them to join him at his house after work, otherwise they would receive unfavourable write-ups in their progress. There were other allegations of lewd conduct, including touching the leg of one of the trainee doctors and the constant sending of text messages.

Anne Thomson, a senior doctor at the trust, investigated the sexual harassment claims. She told an employment tribunal that she had found the consultant guilty of gross misconduct and instructed his instant dismissal following a disciplinary hearing in December 2012.

The women were reported at the investigative stages to have said that they ‘felt intimidated by the advances made by the claimant’ and that his conduct had been ‘unwanted and had caused them anxiety and distress’.

At the disciplinary hearing, both women were found to be credible, although the consultant had alleged that they had colluded and were lying.

In bringing a claim at the Reading Employment Tribunal against the NHS trust, the consultant challenged the genuineness of the findings at the disciplinary hearing.

While the Employment Tribunal did not accept that there was evidence as to what motivated the investigation into the allegations brought by the two trainee doctors, it accepted the arguments of Crow that the respondent could not properly exclude the possibility of collusion.

Crow also highlighted that the disciplinary panel had ignored possible motive for the allegations, of unhappiness with performance reviews and the desire to change supervisors.