Njie v Nursing and Midwifery Council [2014] EWHC 1279 (Admin)

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The respondent Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) brought charges against the appellant nurse relating to the provision of inaccurate and, the NMC said, dishonest, information in a professional context. A disciplinary hearing took place before the Conduct and Competence Committee of the NMC (the panel).

The panel admitted certain hearsay evidence in relation to one of the allegations (the hearsay evidence). The panel rejected the appellant's accounts on the basis that they were variously: implausible; incredible; lacking credibility; or dishonest. The panel found on the basis of those findings that the appellant's conduct had been dishonest and that his fitness to practice had been impaired. The panel ordered that he be struck off. The appellant appealed.

The appellant submitted, among other things, that: (i) the panel had acted unfairly in attaching weight to the hearsay evidence (the hearsay issue); (ii) the findings by the panel had been incorrect and the panel had made findings wholly unreasonably (the findings issue); (iii) there had been unreasonable delay since 2008 in resolving the disciplinary proceedings (the delay issue); and (iv) the finding of dishonesty had been wrong and striking off had been a disproportionate response to the findings (the sanction issue).

The appeal would be dismissed.

(1) Regarding the hearsay issue, in the circumstances of the case, the panel had been perfectly entitled to take into account the hearsay evidence as part of the totality of the evidence on the issue and no discernible unfairness had been occasioned by that ruling (see [56] of the judgment).

(2) Regarding the findings issue, the reasons given for the panel's decisions in respect of each of the allegations had been fully explained. The panel's consideration of each of the allegations had been conspicuously careful and principled. It had been entirely open to the panel to come to the decisions it had done in respect of each of the allegations it had found proved (see [60], [61] of the judgment).

(3) Regarding the delay issue, the appellant had failed to identify specific culpable delay on the part of the NMC. Further the proceedings had inevitably been extended because the appellant had not admitted the allegations ultimately found proved. To that extent, he had been the author of his own misfortune (see [62] of the judgment).

(4) Regarding the sanction issue, there had been nothing to suggest that the panel's decision to strike off the appellant had been a disproportionate response or outside the range of what was reasonable. The panel, having heard the appellant give evidence, had been entirely entitled to describe his conduct as found as dishonest in all cases. The appellant's repeated and continuing dishonest conduct had, in reality, left the panel with little choice but to strike him off. The panel's decision on sanction had been right (see [63]-[65] of the judgment). 

Reproduced with kind permission of LexisLibrary.