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Fertility doctor wins right to challenge HFEA over clinic raids

2 April 2007
Appeared in BioNews 401

The UK fertility doctor, Mohammed Taranissi, has been given permission to seek a judicial review of the decision made by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) to raid his London clinics last January, on the grounds that is was unjustified, disproportionate and unlawful. In the preliminary hearing, Mr Justice Holman, said that Mr Taranissi had a 'good prospect' of success for a ruling against the HFEA. The judge, however, rejected Mr Taranissi's argument that the HFEA had sought to protect its own reputation by searching his premises.

The HFEA made the decision to raid Mr Taranissi's clinics just hours before the BBC aired their Panorama programme, in which it was alleged that one of their reporters was offered unnecessary IVF treatment in one of the clinics for which search warrants were obtained. The HFEA were swiftly accused of 'trial by TV' and were criticised by the British Fertility Society. The HFEA responded by robustly denying the accusations, saying they took action after hearing from a whistleblower and that Mr Taranissi had been a concern of theirs for some time.

Mr Taranissi, said to be worth over £35 million, is widely regarded as a 'fertility hero' by the hundreds of couples he has helped to successfully conceive. It is reported that his clinics have produced around 2,300 babies in the past seven years. The HFEA has said that it took regulatory action after it had been contacted by a whistleblower and denies any allegations of collusion with the BBC over the timing of the raids. 'We have had concerns about the clinics for some time, quite separate to any media investigation and we have been pursuing a normal process with regards those concerns', said Angela McNabb, adding, 'we are a public body and it is absolutely right and proper we should work in a transparent way'.

SOURCES & REFERENCES
Fertility doctor can challenge watchdog search warrant's legality
The Evening Standard |  26 March 2007
Gynaecologist wins right to challenge fertility authority over raids at his clinics
British Medical Journal |  31 March 2007
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