Junior doctor Matt Kneale is delighted to announce today that the High Court has granted him permission to proceed with his legal challenge against the General Medical Council (GMC) over its failure to investigate a high-profile doctor, Dr Aseem Malhotra, who has repeatedly made misleading statements to the public about COVID-19 vaccines.
The Court has also granted him a costs capping order in recognition of the fact that the proceedings concern a matter of public interest.
Dr Kneale, who (along with several other doctors) complained to the GMC about Dr Malhotra’s behaviour, is taking a judicial review over the GMC’s repeated refusal to investigate Dr Malhotra’s fitness to practise.
Dr Matt Kneale, junior doctor and lead claimant said, “When doctors wilfully and repeatedly say things that are incorrect, misleading and put people’s health at risk – like deciding to refuse a vaccine – the GMC must hold them to account.
“I am delighted that the Court has agreed the case can go ahead and that we’ll get a full hearing”.
The harmful statements in question include: depicting COVID-19 vaccines as ineffective, suggesting these vaccines frequently cause serious heart problems and deaths, and stating that particular deaths are due to the vaccines when there is no evidence to support that link.
Dr Kneale is arguing that when doctors lend their professional authority to such misinformation, their statements could cause members of the public to believe in dangerous unproven science, and erode public trust in the medical profession.
As the official regulator of the medical profession, the GMC has a statutory remit to investigate doctors who could cause harm to their patients, bring the medical profession into disrepute, and/or undermine the public’s trust in doctors.
In considering the claim the Judge concluded that: ‘as a junior doctor, the Claimant is well placed to represent the public interest issues in this claim.’
The hearing is due to be listed for 1 day in 2024.
Jo Maugham, Director of Good Law Project, supporting the doctors’ challenge said, “What we have learned from both the pandemic inquiry and the calamitous economic consequences of Brexit is quite how serious are the consequences of deciding, as Michael Gove did, that we have ‘had enough of experts’.
“And, whilst one might feel sympathetic to the GMC’s desire not to become embroiled in free speech controversy, its primary obligation is to protect the public – and it’s really hard to see how its stance delivers on that objective.”