Another health regulator putting politics before fairness.

January 21, 2011


Rugby: Former Harlequins physiotherapist Steph Brennan won a High Court battle in London today over the decision to strike him off for his part in the “Bloodgate” rugby controversy.

Lawyers for the top physio accused the Health Professions Council (HPC) of unlawfully imposing a “one strike and you are out for good” approach to his case. They argued that his conduct had merited a sanction, but not one of such “gross severity”.

Today a judge at London’s High Court, quashed the decision against him and ordered the HPC’s conduct and competence committee to reconsider the case.

Brennan had been due to start work with the English RFU as an England physio until his role in the systematic use of fake blood capsules during matches was exposed. He helped fabricate a blood injury to winger Tom Williams during Harlequins’ Heineken Cup quarter-final defeat by Leinster at Twickenham Stoop in April 2009.

He admitted five instances of faking blood injuries, the first of which happened during Harlequins’ 2005/06 season. On three occasions this was for player welfare, while Brennan said the fourth was to get an unnamed player in a key position on to the pitch following the sin-binning of a team-mate.

Stephen Brassington, for the HPC, argued that the striking-off order was not open to legal challenge. He rejected accusations that panel members had failed to give adequate reasons and explain in their decision how they had dealt with Brennan’s expressions of sorrow and remorse.

Mr Brassington said: “His expressions of remorse and sorrow simply were too little too late. [The misconduct] was so egregious and damaging to the reputation of his profession that the only appropriate way to deal with it was striking-off”.

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  • Richard Lanigan

    I agree, registrants and members of the associations should know exactly what is going on. The letter that was sent is almost identical to the letter that was leaked to Simon Perry. Not making it public has given the GCC another 12 months and three of those are gone. With the recession and incom being squeezed below VAT threshold I dont think the GCC will get away with the same old next November.

  • Joe Public

    Another interesting development. The Emperor’s clothes are disappearing quickly. It seems the physios’ regulator, as others, have bluffed people with the assertion that their decisions are “above the law”, not open to challenge or review. This has now been blown out of the water. Some of these tin-pot regimes have been able to operate as Star Chambers and, as this case shows, when their activities are put under proper scrutiny they are exposed.

    The challenge for chiropractors, as Richard has been saying for years, is to unite to get the reforms needed. It’s time to focus on what outcomes will provide the regulation that was intended with the legislation.

    A few principles could be:

    * a selection process for office holders that appoints people who do not have an anti-chiropractic agenda
    * circuit breakers that ensure that disciplinary processes are not manipulated to become avenues for revenge or the forum for imposing one philisophical view over another
    * support new graduates rather than use them as cash cows ….. how about waiving their registration fees until 1 Jan in the year following graduation?

    Bullies are like cockroaches …. they don’t like the light being shone on them. The letter from the associations should be circulated to all chiropractors. They are entitled to know what is being done in their name and to get involved in the solutions.


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