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Locum handed three-month suspension for showing colleague picture of penis

A locum pharmacist has been suspended for three months after admitting to “inappropriate” sexual behaviour towards a female colleague, the regulator has revealed.

Mohammed Roohul Haque, registration number 2226084, was handed the suspension at a General Pharmaceutical Council’s (GPhC) fitness-to-practise (FtP) committee hearing held last month (July 24-26).

Mr Haque showed a female colleague a picture of his penis and repeatedly made sexually “inappropriate” comments to her while working a locum shift at Hollowood Chemists in Bolton on July 12 2021, according to a determination document published by the regulator.

Read more: ‘Overwhelmed’ locum suspended for four months over codeine payment mix-up

He made the inappropriate comments to a dispenser while employed as a locum responsible pharmacist, showing her a picture “of his erect penis” when alone with her while the other dispenser was taking lunch, it said. 

Despite the dispenser “immediately” walking away, Mr Haque “continued to make comments about the photograph to her” – apologising, asking her whether she “got a good look at it” and saying that he was glad that nobody else had seen the photo – it added.

 

“Banter”

 

Mr Haque admitted that he had shown the dispenser “a photograph of his erect penis”, to making comments related to the dispenser’s physical appearance and that his behaviour was inappropriate, the GPhC said. 

However, he said that the comments were “banter” and claimed he had “inadvertently” swiped onto the explicit picture, it added.

Read more: 'Dishonest' pharmacist suspended for working two jobs at the same time

Mr Haque, who is married and recently had a second child, also said that he was “not sexually attracted” to the dispenser, according to the document.

But the committee found Mr Haque’s explanation “less plausible”, considering the facts of the case, it said. 

It added that while he claimed that his comments aimed to create a “favourable impression and good working relationship”, this was “at odds” with evidence that he “had spent most of the morning on his mobile phone, rather than assisting in the dispensary”.

 

“Personal remarks”

 

Mr Haque had first met the two dispensers who worked at Hollowood Chemists on the morning of July 12, 2021, when he had been brought in as a locum responsible pharmacist, the committee heard. 

As introductions were being made, one of the dispensers mentioned that she was 40 years old, to which Mr Haque replied that she “looked younger”. The dispenser took this “as a compliment” and said that “he could work there again”, it heard.

But Mr Haque began making more “personal comments” to the dispenser, saying that she had a “really nice figure”, that her partner would be “a lucky man” and that she looked “fit walking around the dispensary”, the document said.

Read more: Pharmacy technician found with ‘indecent images of children’ struck off

The dispenser said she “had been ignoring” these remarks, which made her “feel very uncomfortable”, it added.

At around 12.45pm, Mr Haque was alone in the dispensary with her when the other dispenser went on her lunch break, according to the hearing document.

He asked her to look at photographs of renovations that he was undertaking at his home and while at first the photographs were of building work, he then swiped onto a “full screen” picture of his erection, it said.

Read more: FtP: GPhC takes action in six online pharmacy cases over less than a year

The dispenser was “shocked” and walked away from Mr Haque, who apologised, saying that he “had not realised” that the photograph was there, it added.

Despite the dispenser asking Mr Haque to “drop” it, he continued to bring up the incident to “apologise” and asked her if she had “got a good look at it”, it said.

The next day (July 13, 2021), the dispenser lodged a complaint about Mr Haque’s behaviour with Hollowood’s superintendent pharmacist and said that she would be reporting him to the GPhC, it added.

 

No “physical touching”

 

The committee said that Mr Haque’s misconduct was mitigated by the fact that it “only” happened on one day and that there was no “physical touching”.

In its determination, this meant that the sexual misconduct was “at the lower end of the scale”, it added.

The committee said that Mr Haque had “repeatedly” apologised, was “ashamed” and “remorseful” and had “co-operated fully” with the investigation.

Read more: Pharmacist suspended for nine months over online supply of high-risk drugs

It also found that there was a “low risk” that he would act in this way again and was “otherwise a man of good character”.

Mr Haque, who was recently qualified as a registered pharmacist at the time of the incident, gave evidence that “he was stressed at the time” but the committee found that “there was insufficient evidence to demonstrate this was a relevant factor”.

 

“Deliberate”

 

But despite his claim that he had shown the photograph of his penis “by accident”, the committee concluded that Mr Haque had presented the image “deliberately” in order to “obtain sexual gratification” or in pursuit of a sexual relationship or interaction. 

The committee said that Mr Haque had shown “a degree of planning” by creating “a plausible excuse” for showing the dispenser a photograph of his penis, which could be used if she “did not respond positively”, as was the case.

Read more: Use of ChatGPT in revalidation could trigger FtP case, GPhC warns

And it added that he “abused his professional position” since the “victim of his misconduct…was a subordinate”.

However, the committee decided that Mr Haque had “remediated” his conduct – even though he had not undertaken “professional boundaries training because he had insufficient funds” – by his demonstrations of “regret”.

 

“Embarrassment and shame”

 

The committee found that the allegations amounted to misconduct and decided to suspend Mr Haque from the register for three months, the document said.

It added that “only a short period of suspension was required to mark the seriousness of the registrant’s unacceptable sexual conduct” due to his “genuine insight and remorse” and “meaningful steps” to remediate.

Read more: Pharmacist struck off for illegitimate codeine supply after threats to family

In reaching its conclusion, the committee took into account that Mr Haque “did not admit to deliberately showing…the photograph of his erect penis or that his actions were sexually motivated but it considered that this was probably due to his embarrassment and shame, emotions which he had demonstrated throughout the hearing”, it said.

Mr Haque was not subject to an interim measure of suspension as this was “not desirable in this case”, it added.

Read the determination in full here

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