Mr Emmanuel C Eruotor
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On 4 February 2016 a Panel of the Investigating Committee considered whether the Registrant has a case to answer in respect of the following allegation:
1. On 18 February 2014 at Bexley Magistrates’ Court you were convicted of:
a. Dishonestly making false representation to make gain for self/another or cause loss to other/expose other to risk on 26 occasions between 3 June – 29 August 2013.
b. Using a copy of a false instrument with intent it be accepted as genuine on 13 occasions between 7 – 13 September 2013.
c. Making a false instrument on 7 occasions between 30 August – 13 September 2013.
2. By reason of your conviction described in paragraph 1, your fitness to practise as a Biomedical Scientist is impaired.
1. Ms Bennett directed the Panel to the Memorandum of Conviction dated 2 March 2016 as evidence of the Registrant’s conviction on his own guilty plea of 26 offences of making a false representation, 13 offences of using a copy of a false instrument with intent, and 7 offences of making a false instrument. These offences related to the Registrant booking 28 tests for the UK Clinical Aptitude Tests (UKCAT) in order to practise this aptitude test. He used fictitious names and created false passport documents in those fictitious names, and attended centres to take the tests on a number of occasions, sometimes disguising his appearance.
2. Although a qualified and registered Biomedical Scientist, the Registrant had always wanted to qualify as a medical doctor. He had previously obtained a place at medical school in England, but lost his place in 2008 having failed to pass the necessary exams. The Registrant had then pursued a challenge to that decision without success. He therefore had wanted to pass the UKCAT so that he could again apply to UK medical schools. The UKCAT could only be sat once a year, but the Registrant devised this fraudulent scheme of multiple sittings in 2013 to practise the test and ultimately sit it when he felt he could be successful.
3. The offences came to light when a staff member at the test centre recognised the Registrant from a CCTV recording as having previously attended the centre. The Police investigated and contacted the Registrant. The Registrant fully admitted his offences to the Police and pleaded guilty at the Magistrates Court and was committed to the Crown Court for sentencing. There, he was sentenced to 15 months’ imprisonment for each offence to be served concurrently. As a result of the conviction, the Registrant was subsequently deported which is why he attended this hearing on the telephone.
4. The Registrant told the Panel that he accepted that he had been convicted of those offences and confirmed the reason for those offences as set out in his written submissions and documents he had provided to the Panel. He explained that he felt so aggrieved by his inability to overturn the medical school’s decision to exclude him from the medical course that he was driven to act as he did, which was totally out of character, and would never happen again.
Decision on facts
5. The Panel recognised that the burden of proof rested at all times on the HCPC, and that burden was to prove the alleged fact on the balance of probabilities.
6. The Panel determined that the facts set out in paragraph 1 were proved. The Panel accepted the Memorandum of Conviction as evidence of the conviction pursuant to rule 10(1)(d) of the Health and Care Professions Council (Conduct and Competence Committee) (Procedure) Rules 2003, and noted that the Registrant accepted that conviction.
Decision on grounds
7. The Panel determined that the ground of impairment of conviction pursuant to Article 22(1)(a)(iii) was established upon the proven facts.
Decision on impairment
8. Ms Bennett submitted that the Registrant’s fitness to practise is currently impaired by reason of the serious conviction for so many offences of dishonesty and his lack of insight into the effect of the conviction upon the public’s confidence in the profession. That lack of insight led, she submitted, to a risk of repetition of dishonest behaviour with a consequent risk to public protection, and to the wider public interests of maintaining public confidence in the profession, and of upholding and declaring proper standards of conduct for the profession as set out in standard 3 (high standards of conduct) of the HCPC’s “Standards of conduct, performance and ethics” (2012 edition).
9. The Registrant submitted that he fully regretted his criminal conduct and emphasised the underlying circumstances that had led him to act so out of character. He said that he was genuinely sorry and fully accepted responsibility for his actions, pointing out that he had fully admitted those offences as soon as the Police contacted him. He submitted that he would never act dishonestly again, and that he fully understood the effect of his criminal behaviour upon public confidence in the profession.
10. The Panel carefully considered all the evidence and the submissions of Ms Bennett and the Registrant. The Panel accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor that the question of current impairment was a matter of judgement for the Panel, and took into account the HCPC’s Practice Note “Finding that Fitness to Practise is Impaired” July 2013.
11. Looking at the personal component first, the Panel did not accept that the Registrant fully recognised the seriousness of his actions in putting his own interests above that of acting honestly. His fraudulent actions were motivated by self-interest and the emphasis in his lengthy written submissions to the Panel had been how he had suffered as a result of the conviction. The offences involved serious breaches of standard 3 (keep high standards of personal conduct), and standard 13 (behaving with honesty and integrity and making sure that your conduct does not damage the public’s confidence in you or your profession), of “Standards of conduct, performance and ethics” (2012 edition).
12. The Panel did not believe that the Registrant properly recognised that he had breached fundamental aspects of his profession’s standards of conduct, and how such serious breaches impacted upon the wider public interest. Given those conclusions, the Panel determined that there is a risk that the Registrant would again act dishonestly if he felt aggrieved and considered it was in his own interests to do so.
13. Turning to what is termed the public component in the Practice Note, the Panel took the view that an informed member of the public would lose confidence in the profession if impairment was not found in this case. This was not a case where there had been a single instance of lack of honesty, but there had been a carefully devised scheme to gain a personal advantage involving the creation and use of false identities supported by creation of false passports and the use of disguises to attempt to avoid recognition at the test centre. Remedying dishonesty was inherently difficult, and, in the present case, the Registrant had not satisfied the Panel that he would not breach those fundamental tenets of the profession in the future.
14. The Panel therefore determined that the Registrant’s fitness to practise is currently impaired for both personal and public components of the test.
Decision on Sanction
15. The Panel heard submissions from Ms Bennett for the HCPC who drew the Panel’s attention to the Indicative Sanctions Policy. She reminded the Panel of the extended nature of the convictions and their serious potential to undermine public confidence in the profession and regulatory process. She made no specific recommendation as to what sanction the Panel should impose.
16. The Registrant apologised for his actions. He said that he knew that he had put his profession into disrepute and that he had deep remorse and regretted his actions. He asked the Panel to exercise compassion and said that he was not currently working in Nigeria.
17. The Panel accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor. The Panel considered all the matters put before it. It considered the Indicative Sanctions Policy in relation to all the matters found proved and its findings on impairment.
18. The Panel considered the aggravating factors. The matters found proved were serious, they had involved lengthy periods of time where the Registrant had attempted to deceive a number of testing centres and the universities. He pleaded guilty to 28 different counts. His behaviour was clearly not just one incident but was carefully planned behaviour which set out to deceive. He received a prison sentence of 15 months for his dishonest actions. In light of the way he had behaved over such a lengthy period of time, the Panel considered that it was difficult to see that if similar opportunities were put before him in the future that he would not act in the same way.
19. The Panel considered the mitigating factors put forward. The Registrant was remorseful and accepted his guilt. He had acknowledged his guilt from the moment of his arrest and pleaded guilty. Today he recognised that by his actions he had put his profession into disrepute. This was his only career and he now appreciates what he has done and has some insight that his actions cheated other candidates applying for medical school. He also has insight that his actions have compromised himself.
20. The Panel considered the question of sanction, applying the principles of proportionality, weighing the interests of the Registrant against the interests of the public. The convictions had led to a sentence of 15 months imprisonment and the deportation of the Registrant. It was clear to the Panel that those convictions were far too serious to take no action or to impose a Caution Order. As the Registrant has been deported, he cannot obtain employment in this country and therefore workable Conditions of Practice cannot be imposed. The Panel also consider that the convictions are so serious that such an order would not be sufficient to protect the public and could not address the underlying dishonesty and breach. The Panel also considered that the convictions found proved were so serious that public confidence in the profession and in the regulatory process would be undermined if such an order were made.
21. The Panel next considered a Suspension Order. The Panel considered a section in the Indicative Sanctions Policy which says “suspension should be considered where the Panel considers that a Caution or Conditions of Practise are insufficient or inappropriate to protect the public or where the allegation is of a serious nature but there is a realistic prospect that repetition will not occur and thus that striking off is not merited.” As has already been identified, the Panel cannot be satisfied that were the Registrant to be allowed to practise again, that there may not be repetition of his dishonesty if he found himself in a situation in which it was in his interest to be dishonest.
22. The Panel therefore considered a Striking Off Order. The Panel again carefully considered the Indicative Sanctions Policy. It considered paragraph 40, “striking off may be appropriate where the nature and gravity of the allegation are such that any lesser sanction would lack deterrent effect or undermine confidence in the profession concerned or the regulatory process. Where striking off is used to address these wider public protection issues, panels should provide clear reasons for doing so. …”
23. The Panel considered that the only available sanction in this case is a Striking Off Order. The actions of the Registrant took place over a prolonged period of time and led to a lengthy period of imprisonment followed by deportation. They were planned by him to carry out a deception in such a way as to totally undermine confidence in the way in which people would secure entry to medical school. Although he has expressed some late degree of remorse and insight, his actions were deliberate, amounted to an abuse of trust and there is no other way to protect the public except by making a Striking Off Order.
Order: That the Registrar is directed to strike the name of Mr Emmanuel C Eruotor from the Register on the date this order comes into effect.
The order imposed today will apply from 14 October 2016 (the operative date).
Right of Appeal
You may appeal to the High Court in England and Wales against the decision of the Panel and the order it has made against you.
Under Article 29(10) of the Health and Social Work Professions Order 2001, any appeal must be made within 28 days of the date when this notice is served on you. The Panel’s order will not take effect until the appeal period has expired or, if you appeal, until that appeal is disposed of or withdrawn.
History of Hearings for Mr Emmanuel C Eruotor
|Date||Panel||Hearing type||Outcomes / Status|
|16/09/2016||Conduct and Competence Committee||Final Hearing||Struck off|
|05/07/2016||Conduct and Competence Committee||Interim Order Review||Interim Suspension|
|05/01/2016||Investigating committee||Interim Order Application||Interim Suspension|