Stuart Lawrence faced five allegations of unprofessional conduct and was found guilty of one of those charges; That he had a sexual relationship with a 22 year old, self employed member of staff. The lady concerned has also taken Stuart to an employment tribunal, so there is no dispute that the lady worked in the clinic . Stuart may be the worst employer that ever gave someone a P45 but that is not the question. Was she a “young” “innocent” patient who allowed herself to be abused over many months, because her career prospects might be affected?? Or a 22 year old woman who had a fling with her boss. I have to say reading the GCC description of this women one would think she was fourteen not in her twenties. I am told that when the PCC retired to deliberate their main evidence was the song by the Sonics “Dirty Old Man”
My favourite bit from the hearing, (the PCCs dileberations are not on the GCC website yet , I will put a link when it is because it makes interesting reading) is where the GCC expert was asked if it was unprofessional of Stuart not to provide Miss A with a gown before he adjusted her in his hotel room when the were away for the weekend. The expert did not think it reasonable to have a gown at the ready when they were away for the weekend, condoms yes gown no. The police believed Stuart had consensual sex with Ms A , the PCC disagreed and found him guilty despite the fact there was no one to cooperate her claims or any physical evidence that Ms A had been assaulted over many months. Basically the PCC took Ms As word for everything she accused Stewart of, which begs the question how come the police did not charge Stuart?
This decision is an invitation for any x girlfriend or wife to ring Margaret Coats after the relationship breaks up. Make sure you fill out your notes post orgasm as the PCC took a dim view of Stewarts failure to do so. When I was at AECC we were thought not to use fingers to do a breast exam because the patient might get the wrong idea. Now we have a girlfriend getting the wrong idea so you would be advised to use a tongue instead of fingers for sexual pleasure as fingers could be confused with chiropractic palpation. If you are a BCA member you need better insurance ring your old insurers MIA they cover everything for £520 a year.
The first day we arrived at the GCC and new members of council were shown around. Marc Cashley wanted to know why there was not a bench in the first aid room. Margaret Coats asked why he wanted a bench. He explained that chiropractors often adjusted each other and friends, she was genuinely shocked that we did this without taking a full history and notes. I made the point that a chiropractor working at a sports competition is just going to adjust the athlete based on a chat and physical findings and we adjust each other all the time. Coats just does not understand chiropractic and the chiropractic profession has accepted her as chief executive of the GCC for fifteen years. As Stuart states below would the GMC charge a doctor who gave a glass of water and an aspirin to a girl he had sex with. Would the HPC charge a physiotherapist who massaged a girl he picked up in a club before they had sex? I think not.
On Wednesday the GCC contacted Stuart inviting to come down for the last day of the ten day hearing to give it some credibility. They gave him one last chance to make a statement and from the committees comments in the sanction it would appear what the wanted, was for Stuart to present himself, admit his guilt and justify their decision to suspend him last December. Then he should beg their forgiveness to allow him back on the register. This is how they worded their request;
“The Committee have concluded that it would not be appropriate to commence its deliberations not knowing whether Mr Lawrence will make any submissions or attend. The Committee has concluded that Mr Lawrence should be given an opportunity to consider the determinations in full and then decide what course to take. The Committee will recommence the hearing at 9.30am tomorrow morning, Wednesday 13 Oct 2010. It will expect to have received from Mr Lawrence an indication whether it is his intention to attend or put in written submissions by 9am tomorrow”.
Stuart declined to attend and sent the following statement:
Dear members of the professional conduct committee.
I am happy to make a statement of mitigation to you. As I stated previously I did not defend myself because my legal advice was it might prejudice my divorce case and potential access to my son, and the ensuing employment tribunal case of my former self employed sports therapist who made the complaint to the GCC.
The main point I wish to make is that as far as I was concerned Miss A was never a patient in the sense of not crossing professional boundaries. Miss A is a 22 year old adult. She never made an appointment for treatment, she never paid for treatment. I did adjust her and noted it down as I do with my current partner who I also adjust and give advice on health care and I don’t consider her to be a patient either .
Miss A is an attractive, 22 year old. She was a fully qualified, Self Employed Contractor (as she stated on her original police statement). She was brought into the clinic to deal with the rehabilitation of patients and I was instantly attracted to her. In the light of all that has happened I would say I have learned my lesson the hard way.
Miss A is intelligent and is fully aware of the difference between treatment and sexual activity. The police have accepted this was a consenting relationship between two adults. The only people who were harmed by the affair were Miss A’s partner and my soon to be x wife. The police conducted a thorough enquiry, they interviewed all my staff and took forensic evidence and decided I was not a threat to the public. Nevertheless I was suspended from the Chiropractic register in December 2009 by the GCC.
Having an affair with a colleague does not make me a bad practitioner or mean I pose a risk to the public. There are many Chiropractors, medical doctors, Physiotherapists etc that have had relationships with work colleagues and communication in the context of work was accepted by the panel in relation to our facebook e-mails.
As you feel what I did crossed the boundaries of professional behavior. I would point out that there are chiropractic members of council who married their patients and students. When I was at AECC one of the current members of the PCC was reprimanded for having an affair with the 21 year old girlfriend of the student president, when he was acting as project tutor for the student president by day. This was an agenda item for the AECC academic board in the summer of 1995 and council members, the registrar and the Department of health were made aware of this fact in 2006, the fact Dr Kondraki was allowed to remain on council and was appointed to the PCC in 2009 would suggest crossing professional boundaries is not deemed a serious offence by all members of the GCC.
It is not unusual for chiropractors to massage the neck or adjust family members or people they meet in social situations. Most chiropractors don’t view an adjustment as being dangerous or a treatment for conditions. For example an adjustment could help improve circulation to the brain and may just make some one feel more alert because the neurological connections from the neck to the CNS. Is a GP treating his girlfriend if he buys her an aspirin at the chemist and hands one to her with a glass of water? I think not. I am sure physiotherapists give girls they meet in clubs massages without being brought up before their regulatory bodies.
Yes I regret what has happened, I could have shown more common sense in getting involved with a colleague, however there is no evidence that I was professionally incompetent in my practice, or posed a threat to the public. I did not force Ms A to spend weekends away with me in hotels. I don’t believe these complaints would have been made if we had not fallen out and her boyfriend had not found out.
I am disappointed with your decision, that I am guilty of unprofessional conduct for my relationship with Ms A and as I can never accept the fact that I acted improperly towards her, I would ask you to choose one of two sanctions, admonishment in which case I can remove myself from the register or for you to remove me from the register. I felt the original suspension was a grave injustice and for you to prolong it serves no purpose and only wastes registrants money. The damage has been done to my reputation by the way sordid details of my personal live have been published on the GCC website and I wish now to move on with my life and practice as a spinal health care practitioner as I have done for the last 12 months.
This is how the GCC responded to this statement:.