29 September 2008
ByAppeared in BioNews 477
The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) has dropped all legal allegations against leading UK fertility expert, Mohamed Taranissi. They have removed a ban put in place last year, which prevented the fertility doctor from being the 'person responsible' for his 'Assisted Reproduction and Gynaecology Centre' (ARGC) in London, allegedly to avoid a judicial review which could damage the organisation's credibility if successful.
A High Court ruling in July 2007 found that Mr Taranissi was required to appoint a new person to be responsible for ensuring his clinics to abide by the law, after an HFEA committee found that he had been practicing without a licence. Mr Taranissi was granted permission to challenge the decision, however, rather than risk further defeat, the HFEA has decided to withdraw the allegations and pay Mr Taranissi's legal fees.
Following a High Court hearing in November last year, the HFEA was forced to withdraw additional statements falsely accusing Mr Taranissi of exaggerating his success rates and offering 'unnecessary and unproven' treatments. It also confirmed figures showing that the ARGC had the highest success rates in the UK, information that until then had been barred from the HFEA's website.
The saga began when, on 15 January 2007, police-assisted HFEA teams conducted simultaneous, unannounced inspections of Taranissi's two London clinics; an action which the HFEA claimed was the only way to obtain the regulatory documents required by law. Simultaneously, the BBC aired a Panorama documentary - 'IVF Undercover' - showing coverage of the raids, an incident which the HFEA claims was coincidental.
Taranissi is also suing the BBC for libel, over accusations that he coerced patients into having treatments they did not ask for. He has yet to face a disciplinary hearing at the General Medical Council (GMC) over accusations he carried out inappropriate tests and acted in an insensitive manner when treating two of his patients.