In a judgment handed down today by the Privy Council, Jeffrey Jupp succeeded on behalf of Dr Gary Samuel in overturning the decision of the Disciplinary Committee of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons.The case is concerned with that difficult boundary of when conduct in a professional persons personal life is such that it renders them unfit to practise their profession.
In this case Dr Samuel had a dispute with a neighbour which led to him being convicted in the magistrates court for common assault and other offences arising out of the dispute. When the matter came before the RCVS Disciplinary Committee it held that such conduct rendered Dr Samuel unfit to practice as a vet and directed he be removed from the register. The Privy Council disagreed. First it held that the Committee had not dealt correctly with the evidence in that it the College had not called the complainant to give evidence but had simply relied on the prosecution papers prepared for the magistrates court and in those circumstances it was bound to accept the evidence of Dr Samuel as to the provocative circumstances which he said involved racial abuse. Secondly, the incident involved a temporary loss of control in highly provocative circumstances, and this did not render Dr Samuel unfit to practice as a vet. Even if it had, removal from the register was too severe a sanction.