Bernadette Patricia McDaid v Nursing & Midwifery Council  QBD (Admin)
The appellant appealed against a decision striking her name off the register of midwives and nurses which had been made by the Conduct and Competence Committee of the respondent.
The facts of this case have been outlined in a previous case summary which can be found here. In 2013 the appellant had successfully appealed the decision on the basis that the Panel had not taken into account a letter to her from the Trust's head of employment ('X'). This letter stated that the Trust were in no way responsible for forwarding correspondence from the appellant to other parties regarding litigation and that the appellant should take these steps herself, "including mail to Patient A". The court found that the letter had the potential to undermine the case against the appellant.
An investigation resulted in four further charges concerning the allegation that the letter was not genuine. A new Panel was presented with evidence that on the same date of the letter in dispute, X had sent an email of the same substance to the appellant. However, this email did not contain reference to Patient A. The Panel was also provided with evidence that the letter could not be found on the Trust's systems and that there were discrepancies in the formatting used. Evidence was submitted from a handwriting expert which supported X's denial that she had written or signed the disputed letter. There was no evidence of the source of the letter except the appellant. The Panel found all the charges to be proved and the appellant was struck off; they were satisfied that X could not have written the letter and that the only person who could have was the appellant.
On appeal the appellant submitted that even if X had not written the letter, it did not follow that she had and that the letter could have been sent in an attempt to discredit her.
The Court held that if the Panel had been wrong about the four later charges, then this would impact on the other charges. However, if the decision was sound on the latter charges, then there would be no basis on which to challenge the factual findings behind the other 12, which had been found proved by two different Panels. It was further held that there was nothing to undermine the Panel's reasoning in relation to the latter charges because the decision of the Panel was plainly right. Although, in this matter, the appellant appeared as a litigant in person, she had the benefit of representation at her previous appeal and the Council had prepared the skeleton and chronology for the instant hearing, and so could not be said to be at a procedural disadvantage.
It had been argued that the appellant's submission of the fabricated letter to the instant court amounted to contempt of court and it was held that this matter should be brought back before the court and the proceedings be treated as criminal in order that the appellant could receive legal aid.