Former Great Ormond Street hospital cardiologist guilty of 'sexually caressing' boy, 10, finds medical tribunal

  • Tribunal says that top child doctor wrote a love letter to a teenager
  • Accused of caressing a boy and telling him it was 'normal behaviour' in Europe
  • Professor strongly denies allegations

Professor Philipp Bonhoeffer denies the allegations made against him

Professor Philipp Bonhoeffer denies the allegations made against him

An eminent former Great Ormond Street cardiologist has been found guilty of inappropriate and sexually motivated conduct by a medical disciplinary tribunal.

The tribunal decided that Philipp Bonhoeffer, who was dismissed from the famous hospital in May 2010, was guilty of a string of incidents which included caressing a young boy and writing a love letter to a teenager.

A fitness to practise panel of the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service in Manchester also found that the top child doctor had behaved in an inappropriate manner towards youngsters in Kenya.

Professor Bonhoeffer denies the findings and allegations of the tribunal and says he has no intention of resuming his medical practise in the UK.

The panel decided today which facts it found proved against Professor Bonhoeffer, 50, and will go on to consider on Monday whether it considers his fitness to practise is impaired.

It decided that while he was working at Hospital Necker, a teaching hospital in Paris, from 1995 to 1997, he regularly visited the home of DT and ET, and gave violin lessons to their son, FT, who was about eight- to 10-years-old.

He sometimes shared a bedroom with FT, and put his hands on FT’s legs on several occasions.

On a date in or around February 1997, he went into the bedroom of FT, then 10 years- old, and sat next to him on his bed while he was apparently sleeping.

The eminent doctor worked at Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children

The eminent doctor worked at Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children

The top doctor is accused of inappropriate conduct

The top doctor is accused of inappropriate conduct

He caressed his whole body in actions which were sexually motivated, the panel decided.

It did not find proved an allegation that he admitted to ET that he had a paedophile tendency, or that he said he hoped some children in Kenya would never speak of what had happened to them, or words to that effect.

Professor Bonhoeffer was employed by Great Ormond Street from 2001 to May 24 2010 as a consultant cardiologist, and from 2002 as head of cardiology.

From 2003 to 2008 he was chairman of the medical board of the UK-based charity The Chain of Hope.

Between 1993 and 2008, he travelled to Kenya to undertake charitable medical work, including, from 2005 onwards, through The Chain of Hope.

The panel found proved that in 1995, during an overnight stay at a camp in the Marsabit District of Kenya, he placed his hand inside the lower clothing of A, who was 13 at the time, and touched his genital area.

This behaviour was sexually motivated, and when he told A he was a doctor and was trying to find his femoral vein, this was intended to mislead, and an abuse of his professional position, the panel decided.

During the same trip, he told A that he would make sure he went to high school, and would support him to do so, conduct which was inappropriate and sexually motivated, the panel said.

It also found proved that in 1998 he wrote to A, then aged around 16, saying he loved him, and began to pay his high school fees, continuing to provide him with money and gifts until 2008.

The panel also found that in August 1998 the professor arranged for young Kenyan male children to stay with him in a flat at the Mater Hospital, Nairobi, provided to him on his trips to Kenya for charity work.

Those staying with him included A, then 16, and C, then about 15, who had been his patient.

The panel found proved that on the first night of A's stay at the flat, he shared a bed with A, and touched him without A's consent, telling him afterwards that such conduct was normal and acceptable in Europe.

During the visit, he also shared a bed with C, conduct which was inappropriate and sexually motivated, the panel found.

Professor Bonhoeffer was also found, between 2001 and 2008, to have arranged for Kenyan male children and young male adults, to whom he was providing financial support and gifts, to stay with him in the flat.

He was found to have shared a bed with G, who was aged between 10 and 17.

In August 2008, at the flat, he kissed F, aged 10 or 11, the younger brother of C, on the mouth, the panel found.

The Medical Protection Society issued a statement from Prof Bonhoeffer which said: 'I am no longer participating in the GMC process.

'My reasons are set out in a letter to the GMC's chief executive, Mr Niall Dickson, which I disclose.

'I will be making no further comment.'

The letter, dated May 3, from lawyers RadcliffesLeBrasseur, said he maintained his denial of the allegations. 'He has no intention of resuming the practice of medicine in the United Kingdom.

'He no longer has any confidence in the fairness of the process or, given the history of the case, that the proceedings will be concluded in a timely way.

'Moreover, he has come to understand that, even when he is exonerated, he would not be able to resume the practice of medicine in the United Kingdom, even if he wished to do so. Confidence in him has been very seriously, if not irretrievably, damaged already by adverse publicity.

'It is clear that the planned hearings, particularly if Professor Bonhoeffer attends, will attract considerable further publicity.

'That publicity will inevitably have the consequence that he would not be able to practise medicine in any meaningful way in this country, particularly since his work has been and would have been high profile and innovative.

'Exoneration by a panel will not remedy that.

'To the extent that his reputation has not already been destroyed it would be irrevocably destroyed by the publicity associated with the Council's future proceedings and any necessary legal challenges.'

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