Mr Adam Chamberlain

Profession: Biomedical scientist

Registration Number: BS64119

Hearing Type: Review Hearing

Date and Time of hearing: 10:00 09/05/2019 End: 17:00 09/05/2019

Location: Health and Care Professions Tribunal Service, 405 Kennington Road, London, SE11 4PT

Panel: Conduct and Competence Committee
Outcome: Struck off

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Allegation

Allegation:
The following Allegation was considered by a Panel of the Conduct and Competence Committee (CCC) at the substantive hearing on 11 November 2016:


1) You were convicted on indictment of “Possessing extreme pornographic images - act of intercourse/oral with a dead/alive animal”.
2) By reason of your conviction as set out a paragraph 1 your fitness to practise as a Biomedical Scientist is impaired.

At the substantive hearing the Panel found particular 1 of the Allegation proved and found the Registrant’s fitness to practise to be impaired. A Suspension Order for a period of 12 months was imposed as a sanction

Finding

Preliminary Matters

1. The Registrant attended the hearing by telephone and gave his evidence under affirmation.

Background

2. On 10 July 2013, a search warrant was executed by West Midlands Police at the Registrant’s address. Computer equipment was seized from this address and later examined. 80 videos containing acts of bestiality were discovered.

3. The Registrant consistently denied having downloaded these images until the day of his trial on 3 December 2015. On this date he pleaded guilty to the following offence:
Possession of extreme pornographic images portraying an act of intercourse / oral sex with a dead/alive animal contrary to Part V, Section 63 (7) Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008.

4. On 4 February 2016, the Registrant was sentenced by Warwick Crown Court to a Community Order for three years to include a condition requiring the Registrant to participate in Community Sex Offender Groupwork. He was also ordered to pay a victim surcharge of £60 and prosecution costs of £200.

5. This Panel today had before it the bundle from the substantive hearing in November 2016 in which the original panel imposed a Suspension Order. These papers were not previously before the two earlier reviewing panels. The Panel had sight of a Structured Assessment of Risk and Need (Sexual Offending) (SARN) Report dated 24 October 2017, and a Certificate of Conviction. The Panel also had before it the hearing bundle prepared for today’s hearing which included a reflective statement prepared by the Registrant dated 28 March 2019. The Registrant also submitted documents including; two unidentified employer references, one from his current “team leader” and the other from his “department manager” dated 15 April 2019 and 12 April 2019 respectively and a letter from a Treatment Manager in the National Probation Service (undated) outlining the Registrant’s progress on and completion of the Horizon Programme (“the Programme”) run by the Probation Service for sex offenders.

6. Ms Dudrah on behalf of the HCPC, outlined the history of the case and the earlier panels’ decisions on impairment and sanction. She submitted that the Registrant’s fitness to practise should still be considered impaired. She submitted that the Registrant had not shown sufficient insight nor had this developed since the last hearing. She submitted that the Registrant still sought to deflect blame and argued that the Registrant’s reflective statement showed no meaningful insight. He still minimised his actions and had not demonstrated remediation or provided sufficient evidence that he is no longer impaired. Ms Dudrah therefore submitted that in light of the lack of insight demonstrated, despite the fact that the Registrant had been suspended for 2 years and 6 months, the appropriate sanction to be imposed is that of a Striking Off Order.

7. The Registrant submitted that he is no longer impaired. In his written reflective statement he says “This offence was totally out of character with the exemplary life I have lived up to then. There was not a substantial quantity of material when compared with other cases that are reported. There was no evidence in criminal proceedings or submitted to any previous hearings that I seeked this material. As suggested by some people that it must inevitably mean that if you look at this type of material, there can only be one reason and one reason only for sexual gratification. That you can download enormous amount of content with ease and that downloading can be totally random and the content will not always be what has been sought”.

8. The Registrant further submitted that he should be allowed to practise as a Biomedical Scientist. The Registrant gave evidence under affirmation. He said that the remainder of his Community Order had been revoked in March 2018. He stated that his former Probation Officer applied for the order to be revoked early, as a result of his good compliance. The Registrant referred the Panel to the documentation received from the “reducing reoffending partnership” organisation dated 10 April 2019 in which a case manager for the probation service stated that the probation records indicate that an application to revoke the community order was actioned on 16 March 2018.

9. The Registrant stated that he was therefore no longer subject to the Community Order and that he had made further progress. Having undergone the “Programme” pursuant to the Community Order he now understood why his offending behaviour happened, he had learned that it was a coping mechanism for stress, and he told the Panel that he had learned about other positive coping strategies he could use for stress as well as for living a more positive life. The Registrant now cycled or used the gym as ways to manage his stress.

10. The Registrant stated that whilst he accepted the public’s trust and confidence in the profession can be undermined by a person’s professional or personal conduct he was now ready to start practising again as a Biomedical Scientist. He stated that the workplace bullying, which he stated was the reason for his offending behaviour had gone. In his reflective statement he said he was “as low a risk as anybody is ever likely to present and that everybody is at some risk of embarking upon this type of behaviour.” He also said in his reflective statement “I understand that my behaviour has fallen short of the standards expected of me” and that “I should have behaved differently”.

Decision 

11. The Panel took into account the HCPTS Practice Notes entitled “Review of Article 30 Sanction Orders” and “Finding that Fitness to Practise is ‘Impaired’”. The Panel accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor.

12. The Panel was aware that its purpose today was to conduct a comprehensive review of the Registrant’s fitness to return to unrestricted practice. The Legal Assessor advised that the Panel must exercise its own independent judgement with regard to impairment and any sanction it may impose. The Legal Assessor reminded the Panel that it should take into account proportionality with regard to any sanction it may impose and should have regard to the HCPC “Indicative Sanctions Policy”. She reminded the Panel that, by way of applying proportionality, any sanction that it imposes must be the least restrictive order that would be necessary protect the public interest. The Legal Assessor referred to the cases of CHRE v GDC and Fleischmann [2005] EWHC, Bolton v The Law Society [1994] 1WLR 512 and Cohen R (on the application of Cohen) against General Medical Council [2008] 518.

13. The Panel first considered whether the Registrant’s fitness to practise is currently impaired.

14. The Panel carefully considered all the evidence and the submissions made by Ms Dudrah and the Registrant.

15. The Panel took account of the information before previous panels including the reference to the SARN report which deals with the risk of reoffending presented by the Registrant. That assessment stated that the Registrant presented a “medium” risk of sexual reconviction. However, the report also confirmed that he completed the Horizon Programme with a “positive” attitude and “engaged well” with other group members. The Panel also noted that the Registrant had provided a reflective piece as suggested by the previous reviewing panel.

16. The Panel accepted the information given by the Registrant that his Community Order had been revoked by the Court in March 2018 following the application by his Probation Officer which was actioned on the 16 March 2018. The Panel was aware that the Registrant had not been able to provide any written evidence of the actual revocation, however it accepted the Registrant’s explanation that he had sought documents from the Court but had not been provided with anything. The Panel also noted the two positive testimonials and the positive impact that the Registrant said the course had had on his self-confidence, and which had provided him with alternative tools to manage stress.

17. Having considered the Registrant’s written and oral evidence, the Panel concluded that the Registrant appeared to have little or no insight into the impact of his offending behaviour upon the public’s confidence in him as a Biomedical Scientist and on the profession as a whole. When questioned about his view and understanding of this issue specifically by the Panel, while he referred to the fact that the public would be aware of his falling short of standards expected of him, his answers focused on the impact on him. He sought to minimise his actions.

18. When considering the Registrants level of insight, the Panel was concerned that the Registrants reflections did not provide a clear understanding as to the seriousness of the offence he had committed.  The Panel was disappointed to note that the Registrant’s evidence and his reflective statement appeared to demonstrate a retrograde step in regards to his personal insight. For example, the Registrant stated in his reflective statement “….The core reason for (sic) was due to bullying. The potential for re-offending has therefore gone. I’m as low a risk as anybody is ever likely to present and that everybody is at some risk of embarking upon this type of behaviour.” When questioned about this statement, the Registrant confirmed his view that anybody might embark upon similar behaviour, i.e viewing the type of pornographic material he was convicted for possessing, when under stress.

19. The Panel was also concerned that the Registrant appeared to minimise the conduct found proved. He stated that the material was automatically downloaded thereby suggesting to the Panel that he was denying responsibility. The Panel determined that despite the passage of a further 6 months since the last hearing, the Registrant had not demonstrated any further appreciation of the seriousness of his conduct. The Panel was also not satisfied as to the Registrant’s explanation for his offending behaviour or the circumstances in which it occurred.

20. The Panel noted the Registrant’s reasons for his offending behaviour and his explanation as to what he had learned on the “Programme” to assist him in avoiding repetition. Having heard his oral evidence, the Panel considered that the Registrant did not appear to understand how gravely the public and the Biomedical Scientist profession would view his offending behaviour. The Panel noted that whilst the Registrant had addressed the ‘Reputation of the Profession’ in his reflective statement: “In a published article titled Doctoring with Conviction: Criminal Records and the Medical Profession, Brit. J. Criminol. (2018) 58,394 - 413. That no doctor was barred from practising medicine for serious violent and sex offences, including rape, possession of images of child sexual abuse, manslaughter and domestic violence by the General Medical Council.” The Panel decided that due to Registrant’s minimal insight into the effect of his behaviour on the wider public interest, and given his lack of responsibility for his actions, that there was a real risk of repetition.

21. The Panel concluded that on the basis of the circumstances set out above, that the Registrant’s fitness to practise remained impaired on the personal as well as the wider public interest, and that the need to uphold proper professional standards and to maintain public confidence in the profession would be undermined if a finding of current impairment were not made.

22. The Panel took into account HCPC “Indicative Sanctions Policy”. The Panel was mindful that the purpose of a sanction was not to punish the Registrant, but the purpose of any sanction should be to protect the wider public interest, which included maintaining the public’s trust in the profession and the regulatory process. The Panel recognised that it must act proportionately when imposing any sanction.

23. The Panel first considered whether taking no further action was appropriate, and decided that this would be inappropriate as it would not reflect the seriousness of the offending nor would it satisfy the need to uphold the wider public interest. The Panel considered a Caution Order and discounted it for the same reason.

24. The Panel next considered whether it could formulate workable, practical and measurable Conditions of Practice to protect the wider public interest. The Panel determined that no workable or relevant conditions could be devised because there is no evidence that there are identifiable areas of the Registrant’s practice which need to be addressed.

25. The Panel gave careful consideration as to whether to extend the current Suspension Order. The Panel concluded that no useful purpose would be served by continuing the period of suspension. The Panel decided that, given the length of time the Registrant has had to reflect on these matters, it could not identity what further benefit would be achieved by a further period of suspension.

26. The Panel then went on to consider a Striking Off Order. The “Indicative Sanctions Policy” states that whilst such an order is a sanction of last resort, it should be used where there is no other way to protect the public interest, for example, where there is a lack of insight and where the Registrant’s inability or unwillingness to resolve matters suggest that a lower sanction may not be appropriate. The Panel determined that the Registrant still did not accept responsibility for what he had done and the consequences. Whilst he had complied with the Community Order imposed by the Court, the Panel was not satisfied that he had shown any significant insight into his offending behaviour. The Registrant has also sought to deflect blame from himself and minimise his actions. The Panel had carefully considered all the evidence and concluded that the time had come where the only appropriate and proportionate sanction was that of a Striking Off Order. The Panel took into account the impact of such an order on the Registrant, but concluded that the public interest outweighed his interests in light of the extensive period he had been provided with to demonstrate insight and remediation and yet had failed to do so.

Order

The Registrar is directed to strike the name of Mr Adam Chamberlain from the Register on the date this Order comes into effect.

Notes

No notes available

Hearing History

History of Hearings for Mr Adam Chamberlain

Date Panel Hearing type Outcomes / Status
09/05/2019 Conduct and Competence Committee Review Hearing Struck off