Jump to content

Infringement of personal rights & privacy: Professional Panel hearing - Advice sought

Recommended Posts

I'm new to the Forum, I hope Members will bear with me, please. I'm seeking information from those who may have knowledge about Professional Panel Hearings.

There was an infringement of my personal rights and privacy i.e. the right to respect for private and family life (as defined) which resulted in defamatory comments being made in public.

1. I was a witness in a case involving the theft of substantial quantities of medication, along with the names of the inmates to whom the medication was prescribed.

2. I stumbled on the medication and subsequently reported the matter to the authorities. I was NOT implicated or involved in the matter other than witnessing the physical presence of the quantities of medication which was in a place where it should not have been.

3. The Professional body responsible for taking action against their registrant professional and alleged perpetrator (a nurse) conducted a public hearing in public. I'm not a Nurse nor do I have any links with the health sector or prisons.

4. There was abundant physical evidence present to substantiate the allegations and there were other witnesses including senior prison staff called to the hearing.

5. In cross examination, I was questioned at length about (i) my relationship with the alleged perpetrator who was of the opposite sex and known to me, the relationship was put under the 'microscope', so to speak; (ii) assertions were made in cross examination about my own alleged prescription medication.

6.The matter was in the public interests as it concerned the theft of public sector resources by a public sector employee.

Help, please:
(i) Generally speaking or as a rule of thumb what elements do I need to focus on to show that my personal rights and privacy were trampled?
(ii) Any comments generally, please?

I would be grateful if members could please spare a few moments to help me with the above query.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Having dealt with witnesses in many criminal cases and other public tribunals. I am sorry to hear of your experience. Members of the public support the criminal justice system by giving evidence. Witnesses should not be abused during hearings, although some barristers seem to forget that. 

You have asked about a breach of your human rights and it seems you might be thinking of Article 7 - right to private life, by revealing your identity and intrusive questioning.

You say this was a public body holding a disciplinary hearing. So HR legislation would likely apply to that body. But try getting an explanation first. 

My first port of call would be the officer or official who led the investigation. Speak to them and follow up with a letter explaining your concerns. Ask them to put you in contact with the organisation (or part of it) that ran the hearing. There will usually be a secretariat who will direct your complaint to the right person. 

If a witness feels badly treated during a hearing, then it will be taken seriously. Without witnesses there could be no hearings or justice. Should an explanation be unsatisfactory then ask how to escalate the matter.

Grounds for withholding witnesses identities. This is usually dealt with at the preparation stage if harm might arise or justice thwarted. There is no general breach of Article 7 for identifying witnesses but it is not unusual to keep it out of the public record. 

In respect of intrusive questioning by defencr. The panel should have intervened if it became inappropriate. However the accused also has a right to a fair trial (Article 5) and a proper denfence. A balance must be found. 

I'm sorry if this seems unspecific. In my experience miscommunication is often at the bottom of witness issues. Perhaps there is a learning need you can highlight. 


  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

Hello Mycathasfleas; I'm grateful to you for taking the time and trouble, not only to read my post but to study the issues and provide a helpful and offering some pointers. I have found some of the language you have used and the relevant legal sections you refer to helpful too. I will certainly weave some of these specifics in my communication with the public body concerned. 

In my opinion, there were unnecessary and avoidable clear breaches of personal privacy on matters which did not link to the subject matter. Even if there was a need to interrogate my credibility, the physical evidence was there and it had been established that this had been moved from the prison to another destination, a distance of over 200 miles. In other words, my personal information was not needed to solidify the allegation. 

Many thanks once again.

Link to post
Share on other sites

  • 3 weeks later...

Hello Mycathasfleas and other Members - I've done some additional research following the steer provided by Mycathasfleas (thank you, very much) and it's clear to me that the 'Fitness to Practice' panel went far beyond their remit and disregarded the protection of my personal and privacy rights to, in my opinion, an unacceptable level. The personal aspects raised in relation to the matter in question were of no relevance. I now have a copy of the Fitness to Practice's  'Terms of Reference' & key lines of enquiry in relation to the matter which they were investigating against their registrant, this did not have the slightest tenuous link to the personal questions which were put in the public domain without my consent.

The question I wanted to ask is whether such panels as this - the 'Fitness to Practice' panel are immune from civil action. I'm asking because a fellow worker seemed to think that they are 'immune' from civil action due to the fact that if they are open to litigation, they will be less effective because they will not be able to rigorously challenge the evidence as well as the credibility of the Witnesses who testify against accused professionals.  I would welcome your comments, thoughts and steer please, particularly if you are aware of where I can look for reference/background material.

I hope you can help.

Link to post
Share on other sites

My experience regarding witness treatment comes from criminal courts in England and Wales and from staff association work and (unfortunately) appearing as a witness at employment tribunals. I would not give advice outside my experience. The Professional Qualifications Act 2022 enables appropriate regulations to be made by relevant bodies (eg Nursing and Midwifery Council). If you know the regulatory body there should be a pathway for complaints. Beyond that it feels like lawyer territory. Sorry I cannot be more help. 



  • Like 2
Link to post
Share on other sites

Mycathasfleas - thank you once again for taking the time and trouble to read and respond to my query. I agree with your conclusion but I wish I was able to pursue the matter in that direction.

I have just learnt that a law student I know has asked a qualified lawyer on my behalf and has been told -  The notion of immunity for such panels primarily stems from the desire to allow them to perform their duties without fear of being sued for their decisions. This is based on the principle of judicial immunity, which is extended to certain functions and roles that are quasi-judicial in nature. Fitness to Practice panels often fall into this category, as they make decisions regarding the professional conduct and competence of individuals in various fields. However, this immunity is not absolute. It is generally limited to acts carried out in the course of the panel's official functions and is intended to protect members from personal liability for decisions made in good faith and within the scope of their authority. If a panel acts outside its remit, engages in conduct that is ultra vires (beyond its legal power or authority), or if there is evidence of bad faith, malice, or gross negligence, then the immunity might not apply.

This is work in progress as I need to do more research. This the matter put me to considerable detriment. 

Link to post
Share on other sites

  • 3 weeks later...

To Members who have helped me before and possibly others who may read this post and the background before, I wanted to pick your brains once again, if I may please. The purpose of this query is to get your perspectives on the nature of my grievance and what I'm calling an 'infringement of my personal rights and privacy which occurred in the 'professional panel' hearing where I was giving evidence. I have requested and received the terms of reference which guided the panel in investigating the matter at hand, against their registrant who was accused of theft.  Firstly, here are the points  which were NOT in dispute:  (a) substantial quantities of prescription medications with inmate's names were stolen from a prison where the accused had access through her work (which has nothing to do with me); (b) the medications were stored and hidden at location 'X' where both the accused and me had access (200 miles from the prison where the medication came from, stored & hidden without my knowledge); (c) all stolen medication was accounted for and (d) on discovering the hoard of medications, I approached the accused who did not cooperate, following which I reported the matter to the relevant authorities including the police.

Terms of reference provided by the professional panel: (i) Theft of medication; (ii) Breach of patient confidentiality (please see attachment - LAST PAGE as marked in red]).

I need to properly articulate the nature of the infringement of my personal rights and privacy, bearing in mind that the professional panel was held in public. This is based on the fact that counsel for the accused made a 'quantum leap' from the terms of reference to interrogating me about my personal medications, my personal relationships - past and present, my marriage, civil matters which I was pursuing through the court in relation to personal matters. The chairperson of the panel made no attempt to intervene when it was within her power to do so - as to the line of questioning which had no relevance to the matter being investigated. I'm a strong boy, but some of the interrogation was all so unnecessarily distressing and I became quite distraught given that I was in a public arena. 

I am seeking help as follows: (a) is my thinking right that my personal rights were needlessly trampled, correct? (b) if so, what specific legislation do I need to read up on?

I'd be grateful for your help.

[please see attachment - LAST PAGE as marked in red]

Terms of Reference_14114721.pdf

Edited by Macks-Headroom
Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Recently Browsing   0 Caggers

    • No registered users viewing this page.

  • Have we helped you ...?

  • Create New...