In May 2013 C, a locum registrar, was employed for 4 nights in D’s Obstetrics & Gynaecology department. D terminated his employment a day early and a consultant sought feedback from staff on C’s performance in case of a complaint. A midwife, Susan Brydon, responded by email to say she had been informed that at 7am on 8 May 2013 C had examined a pregnant woman (patient AK) in a way which was very painful and upsetting. A complaint was made to the GMC.
At some later point, Ms Brydon wrote a detailed note. In it she now said that, when she arrived on duty at 7am on 8 May 2013, she had witnessed C performing a vaginal examination on patient AK and she had attended to assist as the noise of the woman crying was alarming. She said the women was very traumatised and that there was no clinical reason for the patient to have had the examination.
This note was passed by D to the GMC and presented as part of the patient’s medical notes.
C denied that the incident occurred at all. Towards the end of the GMC investigation patient AK gave a witness statement confirming that the incident had not occurred and she had not been seen after midnight by C and had no complaint about his care. Subsequently, the GMC investigation was dropped.
C wrote to Ms Brydon in September 2014. In a response, she told him she could not recall the events she had described in her note and nothing he had done had caused her concern.
Acting in person C commenced proceedings for libel once he had received patient AK’s statement. D sought to strike out the claim on the grounds of limitation and C who had obtained advice from Counsel through the Bar Pro Bono Unit and then obtained legal representation sought to disapply the limitation period and amend his claim.
A day before the hearing, D served a witness statement from Ms Brydon. In it, she said she had written a short diary note in May 2013 and when asked by D to prepare a witness statement for the GMC she had refused but had written the note instead. She accepted that her accounts were inconsistent. She now said she did not witness C performing a vaginal examination at 7am on 8 May 2013 and accepted that the examination may not have occurred. She also said she had told D that she had only provided the note to D for its internal purposes and not for the GMC.