A sex pest surgeon who forced himself on a junior doctor is to escape punishment after a court bid to take disciplinary action against him was rejected by judges.
Dr Milind Mehta, 48, asked the woman into his office at Dr Gray’s Hospital in Elgin to discuss orthopaedics – only to press himself against her chest before kissing her repeatedly on the neck and shoulder.
She complained to senior colleagues at NHS Grampian and Dr Mehta, an orthopaedic surgeon, faced being suspended or struck off.
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A disciplinary panel found him guilty of sexually motivated misconduct – but he was allowed to keep practising after they heard he arranged a series of public events to outline his own misconduct in the hope of preventing future sexual harassment in the NHS.
Doctors’ regulator the General Medical Council (GMC) went to Scotland’s highest court, the Court of Session, in a bid to overturn the decision of the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service (MPTS) not to punish him.
Lawyers for the GMC said that the decision did not protect the public from Dr Mehta and no reasonable disciplinary panel could have concluded it was appropriate to take no action against him.
However Lady Dorrian, sitting with Lord Brodie and Lord Malcolm, ruled the decision was correct given the surgeon’s decision to out himself as a sex pest in a bid to educate others in the profession.
She said: “The respondent had participated in public presentations on the subject, educating the profession in which he works to prevent others from crossing boundaries, and educating junior staff to speak up.
“Such activities, and the impact they might have on public confidence in the profession, were important and distinct considerations for the tribunal.
“What the tribunal did was take account of factors which it considered important steps towards the maintenance of public confidence and of proper standards within the profession, and that in the whole circumstances to impose a sanction would not serve either of these ends or the wider public interest.
“We can find no legitimate basis for concluding that the tribunal was not entitled to reach the decision which it did, and the appeal will be refused.”
The case heard Dr Mehta was so remorseful about his behaviour he used himself as a case study in presentations on professional boundaries.
Addressing up to 75 colleagues at a time, he told of his misdemeanours and urged fellow doctors to learn from his mistakes.
In February 2015, the woman doctor, known only as Dr X, had become upset after her boyfriend, who lived in Glasgow, was diagnosed with cancer.
She confided in Dr Mehta over coffee and two days later he invited her to see an orthopaedic presentation in his office.
He told her if she had to go to Glasgow to look after her boyfriend “she should have fun while she was still in Elgin”. He then hugged and kissed her repeatedly.
In a statement given to her bosses, Dr X said: “He pulled me in tighter to his chest and lowered his head onto my shoulder so his lips were touching my skin and he kissed my shoulder repeatedly for a few seconds, edging slightly closer to my neck each time.
“He kind of pulled me real close and then bent his head down over my shoulder and put his lips on my neck and started kissing it.’’
Dr Mehta initially denied kissing the woman and claimed the only physical contact was a handshake, but later admitted kissing her “to comfort her in the same empathetic manner he would to his son’s girlfriend, niece or daughter”.
NHS Grampian said Dr Mehta was no longer an employee of the organisation.