Liban A. Diriye
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a) Dishonestly make false representation to make gain for self/another cause loss to other/expose other to risk x3;
b) Make / Supply articles for use in fraud x2.
2. By reason of your convictions, your fitness to practise as a Biomedical Scientist is impaired.
1. The HCPC sent a Notice of Hearing to the Registrant’s registered address on 3 August 2015. The Notice set out all the relevant information about today’s proceedings. The Panel was therefore satisfied that service had been effected in accordance with the Rules.
Proceeding in absence:
2. Ms Berridge applied for the hearing to proceed in the Registrant’s absence. She submitted that there has been no engagement with the Registrant. The Registrant has not applied for an adjournment and there is nothing to indicate that he would be likely to attend if the matter were to be adjourned.
3. This Panel had regard to the HCPC Practice Note on proceeding in absence and it has also accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor.
4. The Panel considered that it is appropriate to proceed in the absence of the Registrant. The Registrant has not requested an adjournment and there has been no communications from the Registrant with the HCPC regarding this hearing. The Panel concluded that the Registrant has voluntarily absented himself from these proceedings today. The Panel has considered there is a strong public interest in proceeding with this case and also considered that given the serious nature of the allegations it would be in the interest of justice for this matter to proceed. The Panel drew no adverse inferences from the Registrant’s non attendance.
5. The Registrant practised as a Biomedical Scientist. The Registrant was convicted at Guildford Crown Court of five counts of Fraud. On 19 December 2014 he was sentenced to 14 months imprisonment, suspended for 24 months together with an unpaid work requirement of 250 hours.
6. The Registrant was employed by Northwick Park Hospital as a biochemist since 2003. On 10 September 2012, he took time off work citing sickness. He furnished a sickness certificate from 17 September to 26 November 2012 which was false. He subsequently returned to work in November 2012. He then furnished another sickness certificate on 4 December 2012 which said he was unfit to work for four months. This certificate was also false. He took further sickness leave in December 2012 to March 2013 and he then returned to work on the 26 March 2013. He took further sickness leave between 24 April 2013 and up until 30 July 2013. In the course of the NHS investigation the Registrant admitted he had worked at East Surrey Hospital whilst on sickness leave from 10 September 2012 to July 2013. Whilst at East Surrey Hospital he falsified his time sheets claiming additional hours worked. All of these matters were the subject of his conviction.
7. The Panel was satisfied on the basis of the Certificate of Conviction that the fact of the Conviction is properly made out. The Panel considered the circumstance surrounding the conviction. It considered that the fraud was sophisticated and that it took place over a sustained period of time, some 9-10 months, and involved a substantial amount of public money in the sum of £57,000. The seriousness of the conviction is reflected in the judge imposing a custodial sentence albeit suspended. The Registrant’s conduct represented a significant departure from that which is acceptable from a registered Biomedical Scientist. The Panel considered that the Registrant’s conviction contravened the following HCPC Standards of Conduct Performance and Ethics:
Standard 3 – You must maintain high standards of personal conduct.
Standard 13 – You must behave with honesty and integrity and make sure that your behaviour does not damage confidence in you or your profession.
8. The Panel considered that there was a risk of repetition of the behaviour identified in the convictions. It considered this to be the case given the nature and circumstances of the criminal behaviour and in particular the lack of evidence of insight or remorse. There was no evidence before the Panel to reassure it that the behaviour would not occur again and therefore there was a risk of repetition.
9. The Registrant breached the trust and confidence placed in him by his employers and by defrauding the public purse he has undermined public confidence in the profession.
10. The Panel has taken into account that the purpose of these proceedings is not to punish or re-punish the practitioner for past conduct but to protect the public against the acts and omissions of those who are not currently fit to practise.
11. The Registrant has damaged public confidence in him and his profession by his conduct. The Panel also considered a finding of current impairment was also required in the wider public interest. A failure to make a finding in the above circumstances would undermine confidence in the profession and regulatory process and would not uphold proper standards of behaviour.
12. Accordingly, the Panel concluded that the Registrant’s fitness to practise is currently impaired by reason of his conviction.
Decision on Sanction:
13. In considering what, if any, sanction to impose the Panel had regard to the HCPC Indicative Sanctions Policy and the advice of the Legal Assessor.
14. The Panel took account of the submissions made by Ms Berridge who highlighted the fact that the conviction was serious with persistent and deliberate acts of fraud repeated over a number of months.
15. The Panel also took into account the mitigation that it could infer from the papers, namely that this was the first time the Registrant was before his regulator and prior to his conviction he was a man of good character. The Registrant had entered an early guilty plea at the Crown Court. The Panel also had regard to the personal factors that existed at the time that may have impacted on his behaviour.
16. The conviction however, is particularly serious. His conduct took place over a lengthy period of time and involved sophisticated acts of deception, depriving the public purse of significant monies and breaching the trust that his employers had placed in him. The Registrant will be subject to the suspended sentence of imprisonment until 19 December 2016.
17. Accordingly, given the seriousness and circumstances of this case to take no action would be wholly inappropriate. The Panel also considered that a Caution Order would not be appropriate as the acts were persistent, there is limited insight and there is no evidence of any attempts by the Registrant to remediate his conduct. A Caution Order, even for the maximum duration, is neither sufficient nor proportionate and it would not maintain public confidence in the profession.
18. The Panel then considered the imposition of a Conditions of Practice Order. However, it excluded it as an available sanction on the grounds that such an Order is inappropriate where there is insufficient evidence of remediation and insight. In any event the Panel considered it would be difficult to formulate appropriate conditions given his fraudulent conduct. Above all such an Order requires confidence to be placed in the Registrant and due to the serious breach of trust and that he is still subject to a suspended sentence of imprisonment a Conditions of Practice Order is not appropriate.
19. The Panel then went on to consider the imposition of a Suspension Order. Such an order would provide public protection in that the Registrant would be unable to practise as a Biomedical Scientist for a period of time. During any period of suspension a Registrant would be expected to be able to develop insight and remedy their behaviour. However, the Registrant has not provided this Panel with any evidence such that it could conclude that the conduct would not occur again. His conviction for such serious matters fundamentally undermines public confidence in the profession and breaches fundamental tenets of the profession. The Panel therefore considered that a Suspension Order would be inappropriate.
20. The Panel considered that the only appropriate and proportionate sanction is one of Striking Off. Such a sanction will maintain public confidence in the Profession. Further a Striking Off Order will send out a clear message to the Profession and the public. To impose any lesser sanction would undermine confidence in the profession and the regulatory process.
21. A striking off Order prohibits the Registrant from practicing in his chosen profession as a Biomedical Scientist. The Panel concluded that the public interest in maintaining confidence in the profession outweighs the Registrant’s right to practise in his chosen profession.
That the Registrar is directed to strike the name of Mr Liban A Diriye from the Register on the date this order comes into effect
The order imposed today will apply from 10 November 2015.
History of Hearings for Liban A. Diriye
|Date||Panel||Hearing type||Outcomes / Status|
|13/10/2015||Conduct and Competence Committee||Final Hearing||Struck off|