Michael Watt ordered to pay full cost of failed attempt to gag BBC

A suspended Belfast neurologist has formally ended an attempt to prevent a BBC Spotlight exposé which made multiple criticisms of his work.

Thursday, 21st November 2019, 6:07 pm
Updated Thursday, 21st November 2019, 7:15 pm
Michael Watt worked at the Royal Victoria Hospital

On Tuesday, Dr Michael Watt had applied to Belfast High Court for an injunction to prevent the BBC programme – which had been months in the making – from being transmitted.

He failed to convince a judge to block the programme and the programme entitled ‘Rogue Doctor’ was broadcast on Tuesday night.

Today the matter returned to court. Judgment was entered for the BBC at the High Court in the action.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Counsel for BBC, Gerald Simpson QC, contended that the outcome involved the lifting of reporting restrictions, meaning that matters can now be reported.

Mr Justice O’Hara then confirmed: “I will enter judgment for the defendant and an order for costs.”

Dr Watt had brought the injunction based on a claim that the BBC was in breach of Article 2 (right to life) and Article 8 (privacy) of the European Convention on Human Rights.

Mr Justice O’Hara also made an order for costs in favour of the broadcaster, meaning that Dr Watt will have to pay the legal bill.

Dr Watt, who is suspended from practising medicine, worked at the Royal Victoria Hospital. He was not present in court.

In 2018 nearly 3,000 of his patients were recalled, with one in five found to have been misdiagnosed and an inquiry chaired by Brett Lockhart QC is investigating his actions.