IVF doctor settles HFEA libel claim

Claim against BBC over Panorama programme continues

Mohamed Taranissi, statistically the UK‘s most successful fertility doctor, has reached an agreement to settle his libel claim against the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA). Former chief executive Angela McNab had claimed on a BBC television programme in January that he was guilty of “massaging” his birth rates and of offering a worthless treatment called “reproductive immunology”.

In a joint statement read in the High Court on Friday, the government’s fertility watchdog withdrew the statements made in the Panorama documentary and accepted that Mr Taranissi had not acted improperly: “Nothing that was said on behalf of the HFEA was intended as a criticism of the clinical standards, treatment and patient care offered by Mr Taranissi. The HFEA accepts that Mr Taranissi is committed to providing the best possible outcome for his patients.”

Mr Taranissi was quoted by The Guardian as saying: “It was all unnecessary in my view, but it is something that you have to deal with. Hopefully we can put this episode behind us now.”

The HFEA had raided two of Mr Taranissi’s clinics – the Assisted Reproduction and Gynaecology Centre (ARGC) and Reproductive Genetics Institute (RGI) – in January and seized documents. The raids, which were shown in the Panorama programme, were ruled unlawful by the High Court in June after the HFEA admitted that it had presented insufficient evidence to justify the warrants under which the raids were carried out.

Mr Taranissi is also suing the BBC for libel over the allegations made in the Panorama programme. A BBC spokesman said: “The BBC continues to defend the libel claim brought by Mr Taranissi. The Panorama investigation was extensively researched over many months and also raised a number of issues unrelated to Mr Taranissi’s complaint against the HFEA.”

5RB‘s Desmond Browne QC is acting for the BBC.