The High Court has rejected a pharmacist’s attempt to overturn his removal from the register for selling controlled drugs without a prescription.
Hussain Jamal Rasool, registration number 2068258, was struck off the register by a General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) fitness-to-practise committee in August 2014, after he was caught on camera selling diazepam and Oramorph without a prescription in a 2012 BBC investigation.
Mr Rasool appealed the committee’s decision on the grounds that its chair had heard matters relating to him in another fitness-to-practise hearing, and because the sanction of removal was “disproportionate”, the court heard on February 3.
Mr Rasool argued that the committee’s chair should have removed himself from the fitness-to-practise proceedings because he had heard references to Mr Rasool in an interim order hearing regarding another employee from the same pharmacy, who was also struck off as a result of the BBC investigation.
But the High Court said this material had “amounted to no more than an out-of-court assertion” and did “not appear to have been of any relevance” to the hearings of either individual.The chair of Mr Rasool’s case could not even remember what this information had been, the court heard.
'No possibility of bias'
The chair was an “experienced QC” who regularly presided over GPhC hearings, the court said. It did not agree that there had been a “real possibility of bias” towards Mr Rasool’s case and rejected this argument.
Mr Rasool also claimed that the GPhC’s decision to strike him off had been disproportionate, and had given “undue weight to BBC publicity” without taking into account that he was remorseful and had “co-operated fully with police”.
But the court ruled there was “nothing to support” the claim that the GPhC committee had placed "any" weight on the BBC publicity. It highlighted that Mr Rasool had “deliberately flouted the law” and backed the committee's original ruling that Mr Rasool's conduct was "fundamentally incompatible" with remaining on the register.
Pharmacy lawyer Noel Wardle told C+D that the High Court’s decision was “unsurprising” as successful appeals were “rare”. Although there were some cases where taking a fitness-to-practise ruling to appeal “ought to be pursued”, these were “few and far between”, said Mr Wardle, a partner at Charles Russell Speechlys LLP.
“I don’t think the prospects were high for a successful appeal in this case,” he added.