TV psychiatrist admits plagiarism in newspaper articles

Television psychiatrist Dr Raj Persaud has admitted using plagiarised material he wrote in a book and articles published in journals and national newspapers.

The doctor, who is famed for his regular appearances on daytime TV shows such as This Morning, admitted plagiarising four articles for his 2003 book ‘From The Edge Of The Couch’.

A General Medical Council misconduct hearing in Manchester was told that Persaud also admitted passing off other scholars’ work as his own in articles published in journals and national newspapers.

Persaud, who also appeared regularly on BBC Radio 4’s All In The Mind programme, denied that his actions were dishonest and were liable to bring his profession into disrepute.

Jeremy Donne QC, GMC counsel, said: “The articles, we say, speak for themselves and they all demonstrate the extent Persaud has appropriated the work of others as his own.

“We further allege that Dr Persaud has been dishonest… Dishonesty can be inferred from his repeated conduct in plagiarising the work of academics… thereby enhancing his professional reputation and standing with the public as well as enhancing himself in the press.

“His book went to the second edition and he was being paid for his articles.

“All of this was at the expense of the hard work and scholarship of other people.”

Donne also accused Persaud of attempting to “exculpate” himself.

He said Persaud blamed sub-editors after an article he wrote for the Times Educational Supplement (TES) in February 2005 failed to acknowledge the scholar whose work he plagiarised.

Professor Thomas Blass, of the University of Maryland, USA, complained about the article and was told, in an email by Dr Persaud, that he thought he had given him a mention.

Persaud wrote: “When these columns are sub-edited a lot is often taken out and I don’t get to see it before it goes out.”

The TES acknowledged that Persaud had “copied” the work of another scholar, Donne said.

He added: “It’s quite clear that the TES were not taking responsibility for subbing errors in their apology.”

The GMC panel heard that allegations of plagiarism against Persaud were first made in a Sunday Times article published in April 2006.

The article alleged that sections of Persaud’s book, published three years earlier, were plagiarised from academic articles.

At the time Persaud was a consultant psychiatrist for the South London and Maudsley NHS Trust, a position he still holds.

He was also a director of the now defunct Centre for Public Engagement in Mental Health Sciences at the Institute of Psychiatry, Kings College, University of London.

He withdrew from this honorary position following the allegations.

Donne said: “Dr Persaud is, and at the relevant time was one of the country’s best known psychiatrists. As such we say he occupies a place of particular prominence.”

Donne said Persaud was being “disingenuous” by claiming that he had acknowledged the original contributors to his book.

He said: “While it’s true the book contains a general acknowledgement there’s no, or certainly no adequate, attribution of the passages themselves.”

Donne also said that Persaud’s preamble and analysis of case studies in his book appeared as his own insights and opinions, “and not the work of the original authors”.

He revealed that Persaud asked for and received permission to quote an article by a Professor Bentall for his book.

He said: “Professor Bentall gave his permission assuming that Dr Persaud… would know that quotations would have appeared in parenthesis and be properly attributed.

“Having seen the passage Professor Bentall was astonished that a substantial portion of his paper had simply been copied into the book in what he believes was a deliberate act of plagiarism.”

Donne said the British Medical Journal (BMJ) was forced to issue an “unequivocal retraction” in September 2005 after publishing an article by Persaud in which he failed to correctly attribute his work.

The doctor blamed a “cutting and pasting error”, the panel heard.

The BMJ subsequently declined to publish another article by Persaud, Donne said.

Persaud’s articles appeared in journals including the British Medical Journal, Progress in Neurology and Psychiatry, and the Guardian and the Independent newspapers.

The GMC hearing was adjourned until 11am today

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