Panorama IVF doctor is cleared of misconduct

A doctor named in a Panorama undercover investigation into in-vitro fertilisation has been cleared of misconduct by the General Medical Council.

Disciplinary proceedings against leading IVF doctor Mohamed Taranissi collapsed today after a Fitness to Practise panel in central London ruled that allegations against him brought by two patients did not amount to misconduct.

The decision comes after a High Court ruling earlier this month in which the BBC was ordered to pay Taranissi an estimated £500,000 in costs in his continuing libel action over a Panorama programme.

The medical panel was investigating allegations that Taranissi failed to keep proper medical records, applied inappropriate pressure on one patient and was insensitive with another.

The first patient, identified as IK, alleged she was pushed into accepting tests and treatment she did not want.

But the panel found there was insufficient evidence to show Taranissi's behaviour amounted to "inappropriate pressure".

It also found there was not enough evidence to suggest she was not properly informed about treatment for infertility with an unlicensed drug.

The second patient, known as CG, alleged Taranissi did not investigate her vomiting and swollen wrists when she was at his clinic for fertility treatment.

Shortly after leaving the clinic in August 2004 she suffered two seizures and was admitted to intensive care.

She was suffering from hyponatraemia, a rare condition in which sodium levels in the blood fall to dangerously low levels.

But the panel found Taranissi could not have been expected to diagnose the rare condition.

Taranissi, who runs London's Assisted Reproduction and Gynaecology Centre, denied all the allegations.

He said in a statement, he said: "None of this has been of my choosing but I have been put in a situation where I have had to defend myself against inaccurate allegations.

"I have never gone out of my way to pick fights but I felt that I would be letting down my staff and the patients who believe in me if I did not fight the various false allegations about me.

"This is not just about me - it's about all those people who have seen something special in what we are doing here. Now hopefully I can just get back to doing just that and helping the many people who need our help."

Taranissi's libel claim against Panorama is due to be tried by a judge sitting without a jury in January.

He claims the January 2007 broadcast, IVF Undercover, damaged his reputation by making defamatory allegations about his techniques.

Mr Justice Eady ruled earlier this month that Taranissi was entitled in principle to payment of costs forthwith which related solely to the BBC's Reynolds defence of qualified privilege for responsible journalism in the public interest, which the corporation withdrew last month.

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