Persaud suspended from practice for three months over plagiarism
Article in the Guardian
"It was the scale of his dishonesty which did for Dr Raj Persaud, the celebrity psychiatrist who was reprimanded and suspended from practice for three months by the General Medical Council last night.
The best-known "mind doctor" in Britain could be either an outstanding practitioner or a matchless media performer for the profession, the GMC decided. But he did not have time to do both. Laden with columns, book commissions and broadcasting jobs, Persaud harvested eight degrees and diplomas, a hospital consultancy, two research medals and a professorial chair by the age of 43.
"I was under stress. I should have been much more careful," he told a four-day fitness-to-practice hearing in Manchester. But the stress was of his own making and drove him to make plagiarism a habit.
He was told by Dr Anthony Morgan, chairman of the panel of four experts, two men and two women: "The public is entitled to expect that doctors will be honest and trustworthy at all times, and that they adhere to the highest standard of probity. Your conduct has fallen below the standards of behaviour that the public is entitled to expect from doctors and undermines the public's confidence in the profession."
Persaud, who appeared regularly on TV's This Morning programme, admitted nine cases of plagiarism but denied that he had been deliberately dishonest. The panel heard evidence that he wrongly had blamed sub-editors for missing out attributions and quotation marks, and dismissed his defence.
Morgan said that all four members were "in no doubt that your dishonest conduct and plagiarising other people's work on multiple occasions represents a serious breach of the principles that are central to good medical practice".
Imposing the suspension, Morgan told Persaud that the panel's lightest option, of a warning and imposing conditions on his practice, was "insufficient as they would not adequately reflect the gravity of your misconduct, or protect the public interest by maintaining public confidence in the medical profession".
The short suspension was influenced by the fact that Persaud had "cut down on [his] media and journalistic projects" and "was more cautious about taking on extra work".
The action was triggered by a complaint from the Scientology movement, which has crossed swords with Persaud over modern psychiatry, but widened to include a growing number of allegations.
The Citizens Commission on Human Rights, founded by the Scientologists, complained to the GMC that a hostile article by Persaud in the Independent in 2005 plagiarised several passages from another professor.
Persaud, a keen poker player and risk-taker, was embedded in the medical establishment in a way which partly explains the GMC decision to go for suspension rather than a warning. He lectured to the National Institute for Clinical Excellence, examined students, and was even a referee for articles submitted to the Journal of Medical Ethics.
Persaud claimed his dual skills made him an ideal "talking head" for psychiatry, compared to what he called "unqualified media pundits who normally dominate the media debate". Personable and fluent, he seemed well-qualified to advise other people on how to run their lives. His undoubted talents made lasting friendships, and several media figures, including Richard Madeley and Judy Finnigan, and the broadcaster Martin Bashir, said last night that they wanted to work with him again."
Well he has been foolish and dishonest but at least he hasn't harmed any of his patients, unlike so many of the medical profession.