Transgender man in ‘scandalous’ effort to manipulate doctor into giving false evidence

A transgender man who sued over the surgical process tried to manipulate a doctor into giving false evidence to strengthen his claim for damages, a High Court judge has ruled.

Friday, 7th May 2021, 12:23 pm
Updated Friday, 7th May 2021, 12:53 pm
Laganside court complex in Belfast city centre.

Mr Justice McFarland described his attempts to obtain and influence the medical expert’s report as “bordering on the scandalous”.

The withering assessment came as he struck out his action against the Belfast Health Trust and a Belgian hospital on the grounds of delay and serious misconduct. “He has forfeited his right to a trial of his case,” the judge said.

The plaintiff, aged in his late thirties and given the cipher AB to protect his privacy, was diagnosed with gender dysphoria and underwent initial surgery back in 2003.

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But because he was unable to have more operations in Northern Ireland, he was referred to a hospital in Ghent.

Further gender transitioning surgery was carried out there in 2009. Two years later he issued a writ claiming damages over the medical advice, care and treatment in that procedure.

Later, the litigation shifted to the duty on doctors to provide pre-surgery information and warnings about the risks involved.

Part of the case involved a French-based witness identified only as Professor Robert.

The court heard AB discussed nerve damage and urinary infections with the medical expert during direct email contact last year.

In one message the plaintiff told him that if he provided a certain opinion it “severely damages my case and I will not get reimbursed for the 32 infections and 10.5 years of hell”.

Further correspondence referred to Robert’s alleged reluctance to travel to Belfast to give evidence, with AB saying it would weaken his position.

He also claimed that any court award would have to be more than £200,000 or else the government would take the money due to his disability benefits.

Amid repeated failures to comply with court directions, the Trust and the Belgian hospital both sought to have the action struck out.

Ruling on their applications, the judge said, “The efforts made by the plaintiff to procure the report of Robert were persistent and highly irregular, bordering on the scandalous.

“Had a solicitor or counsel been involved in this type of conduct and communication with an expert, it would be a matter for a professional conduct enquiry.”

The judge held: “What the plaintiff attempted to do was to manipulate a professional witness to provide false or misleading expert evidence to further his claim for damages, and to create a paper trail avoiding his solicitor so that he maintained full and unfettered control over the evidence.”

He added: “The actions taken by the plaintiff were highly inappropriate, an attempt to manipulate the court process and an attempt to mislead the defendants and ultimately the court.”

It was acknowledged that AB appears to be suffering significant pain which impacted on his well-being at the time.

Entering judgment for both defendants, he concluded: “The plaintiff has been guilty of the most deliberate and serious misconduct in respect of the Robert report.