An Aberdeenshire vet has been suspended after being found guilty of dishonesty and undermining procedures to protect animal welfare.
James Gracey, who works at the Meadows Veterinary Centre, has been suspended for six months after he was found guilty of five charges in relation to cows owned by his father.
The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) found Mr Gracey had signed Food Chain Information forms in relation to cows without declaring any conflict of interest.
It was also found the vet signed an emergency slaughter form stating a cow had not been administered treatment within the previous week when it had. On a separate occasion, he also signed a form stating a cow was fit for travel when it was not.
The five charges he was found guilty of took place between 2016 and 2019, while another three charges were not proven and another allegation was withdrawn.
Mr Gracey was born in Northern Ireland, but was raised on the family farm in Aberdeenshire. He graduated from Glasgow in 2010 before working in Cheshire.
He joined Meadows Veterinary Centre, which has premises in Oldmeldrum and New Deer, in 2011.
Vet ‘failed to meet the necessary high standards of honesty’
The RCVS found his conduct in relation to the proven charges risked undermining public health and animal welfare, and in relation to the emergency slaughter form his conduct was dishonest and misleading.
Hazel Bentall, chairwoman, said the committee had considered individually and cumulatively all matters, concluding the public relies on vets to be honest and transparent when completing and signing forms.
In the report, she said: “There is a public interest in being able to trust the profession to uphold high standards of probity because veterinary surgeons are trusted to play an important role in the promotion of animal health and welfare and associated human health.”
She said that culminative effect of the charges amounted to “serious professional misconduct” as Mr Gracey, from Fyvie, had “failed to meet the necessary high standards of honesty and transparency.”
The report adds: “In particular, the fact that there were four separate events relating to animal welfare and public health was significant when considering what sanction to impose.
“The committee is satisfied that such conduct, when taken together, would be considered deplorable by other members of the profession. The respondent’s conduct on four occasions in respect of four animals and three conflicts of interest called into question his competence in relation to completing such forms.”
Vet has showed ‘sufficient insight’
According to Meadows Veterinary Centre’s website, Mr Gracey has “no spare time” after looking after the farm and his three kids. But when he gets a chance is a fan of rugby and football.
Character witnesses spoke of the vet’s positive and professional qualities during the hearing.
The watchdog also considered that until the charges in 2016, Mr Gracey was of good character and had no previous disciplinary findings.
They also noted he has made efforts to avoid repeating the misconduct, such as making alternative certification arrangements for his father’s farm and taking more care with record keeping.
The committee also acknowledged the significant lapse of time between the date of the misconduct and the hearing, as well as the stress it has caused Mr Gracey.
Dr Bentall added: “The committee was satisfied that the respondent had shown sufficient insight and efforts to remediate his misconduct and it concluded that at the end of this period of suspension, he would not pose a further risk to animal welfare or public health.
“The committee considered that the respondent was a valued veterinary surgeon with extensive farm animal experience and that a more severe sanction such as removal from the RCVS Register would not properly reflect the committee’s findings on the scale of dishonesty and would not take account of the respondent’s mitigation.”
Staff declined to comment on the outcome of the hearing.