23 Dec 2006

Singapore's international complaint dismissed

The pursuit of a physician across borders has fallen at the high court.
Rex Dalton

Biopolis is recruiting international experts, who will watch this case with interest.
A British court has cleared the way for a prominent English epilepsy expert to return to research, after a protracted international dispute over studies four years ago in Singapore.

On 21 December, the British High Court ruled that British authorities acted appropriately when they dropped an investigation of improprietries against neurologist Simon Shorvon, now a professor at University College London.

The ruling is a setback for the Singapore Medical Council (SMC), which had pursued its case against Shorvon, whom it had found guilty of professional misconduct, across international borders.

The allegations were brought to the attention of Singapore's health authorities by Lee Wei Ling, Mr Lee's daughter, who resigned from the project and was appointed to succeed Dr Shorvon as NNI director at the start of this year. John Burton

Last year the British General Medical Council (GMC) decided to drop their own inquiries into Shorvon, having found no grounds for action. This decision was not received well by the SMC, which, in an unprecedented move, filed a case in the High Court of Justice in London. It claimed that the GMC's decision was unsustainable and breached a duty of fairness to the SMC in not having consulted it properly.

The High Court has now dismissed this claim, saying the British medical council's decision was rational and sustainable.

"This judgement removes an unjustified slur on my reputation," reads a statement from Shorvon, who is now a professor and subdean at the Institute of Clinical Neurology at University College London, UK. "I am delighted."

"I hope now that I can be left in peace to pursue my research," he adds. He has not been able to apply for grants during the legal fight.

I hope now that I can be left in peace to pursue my research.

Simon Shorvon

Medical councils rarely pursue physicians beyond the borders of their own country with such aggression. The case will likely be watched with interest by others in the field, as Singapore is actively recruiting leading international researchers for its Biopolis complex, a futuristic centrepiece of biomedical research.

A spokeswoman for the Singapore Medical Council would only say that the judgement was under study. An appeal is possible.

Head hunted

Shorvon was recruited in 2000 from University College London to direct Singapore's National Neuroscience Institute. But shortly thereafter, he became embroiled in conflict.

He was accused by Singapore officials of obtaining neurological information on 13 patients without consent, recruiting them for his research without proper consent, and changing their medication levels without proper consent. He was dismissed in 2003 by the Institute. Neuroscientist Lee Wei Ling, the daughter of former prime minister of Singapore Lee Kuan Yew, replaced Shorvon as the institute's director.

The SMC found Shorvon guilty of professional misconduct in 2004, after he had returned to the United Kingdom. He was fined and removed from the register of medical practitioners in Singapore.

Shorvon has denied emphatically any impropriety. He declined to be interviewed this week.

The British General Medical Council became aware of the situation in 2004 and Shorvon, by then in London, sought a UK review to help to clear his name. In 2005, it determined the allegations in Singapore could not be proved beyond a reasonable doubt and halted its inquiry.


Matilah_Singapura said...

The Leviathan State should never be allowed to do business.

Laissez faire or death! Let the real capitalists do their job!

Anonymous said...

silly little singapore trying attempting to compete against the big boys on the block.

idiotic bragging country you have had your butt well and truly kicked.

Zachary said...

hehe, sometimes it's really complex:)

Anonymous said...

Now this judgement proves beyond reasonable doubt that only our justice system is independent. Was this reported in out independent papers? Guess not.

Anonymous said...

The authorities went after him for 4 years. Where ever he may be and whatever the evidence.

Didn't someone checked whether the case against him was airtight?. Or did he/she thought that every place in world practises the same type of "independent" judiciary as Singapore?

Now four years of costs and effort is down the drain. Who foot the legal and/or admin costs. Public money again?!

Galven Lee said...

"it determined the allegations in Singapore could not be proved beyond a reasonable doubt and halted its inquiry."
Local papers never reported this. It reported his breach as fact, and put me under the impression that the British review sought to play down his crime instead of attack the basic allegations.

Matilah_Singapura said...

Err... could he have been "set up"? I mean, he was hanging out with, and working for pretty dubious characters...

Character assassination just might be a "family tradition". ;-) 'nuff said...