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Raids on IVF clinics ruled unlawful

4 July 2007
Appeared in BioNews 414

Raids carried out earlier this year by the UK's Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA), on IVF clinics run by the pioneering fertility expert Mohamed Taranissi, have been ruled unlawful by the High Court of Justice. The case was expected to go to a full hearing, but was concluded when the HFEA conceded that the evidence presented to magistrates under oath in the application for warrants was insufficient. The High Court rejected a further claim that the HFEA had acted out of improper purpose.

On 15 January this year, police-assisted HFEA teams conducted simultaneous, unannounced inspections of Taranissi's two London clinics - the Assisted Reproductive and Gynaecology Centre and the Reproductive Genetics Institute - investigating claims that patients had been treated without a valid license. That same evening saw the transmission of 'IVF Undercover', a special investigative report by the BBC current affairs series 'Panorama', in which undercover journalists posed as infertile women and allegedly received inappropriate advice at the same clinics. The HFEA claimed that the timing of its raid in relation to the BBC programme was coincidental, but the resulting impression of collusion with the BBC attracted widespread criticism.

The HFEA has agreed to pay most of Taranissi's court costs, which have been estimated at £1.2million - more than a tenth of the HFEA's current annual expenditure. Taranissi expressed regret that 'money, estimated to be in excess of £1m, which could have been spent on research or genuine issues of patient safety has instead ended up in the pockets of the lawyers'. The HFEA, for its part, claimed that it had 'acted in good faith and on advice'. Taranissi later told the Guardian newspaper that the episode had been demoralising: 'If I have to be a solicitor because I have to look at all these legal things, then maybe I should just call it a day because I don't want to be like this. If I'm not going to be able to do what I like to do and what I'm good at, then what's the point of continuing?'

In light of the HFEA raids being ruled unlawful, medical practitioners and commentators have called for resignations at the HFEA and for a full investigation by the Department of Health. In a separate case, Taranissi is suing the BBC for libel, on the grounds that the allegations made in 'IVF Undercover' were inaccurate and defamatory. An HFEA hearing scheduled for 13 July will consider the original allegations against Taranissi.

Ferility watchdog raids on IVF doctor 'illegal'
The Times |  29 June 2007
IVF clinic raids ruled 'unlawful'
BBC News Online |  28 June 2007
19 September 2011 - by Sandy Starr 
The UK's fertility regulator, the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA), has published a long-awaited review of its conduct in relation to IVF specialist Mohamed Taranissi and related legal proceedings....
18 January 2010 - by Antony Starza-Allen 
The UK's Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) is conducting an internal investigation into its own failings when investigating Mohamed Taranissi, the 'person responsible' for the Assisted Reproduction and Gynaecology Centre (ARGC), London, in 2007 concerning allegations that he was operating without a licence, The Times newspaper has reported....
3 November 2008 - by Ailsa Stevens 
Disciplinary proceedings against one of the UK's top fertility experts, Mohamed Taranissi, relating to allegations brought by two of his former patients, collapsed this week after the General Medical Council (GMC) ruled that there was insufficient evidence to support the charges. Mr Taranissi was accused of failing...
13 October 2008 - by Ailsa Stevens 
New figures release last week by the UK's Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) show that two clinics run by fertility expert Mohammad Taranissi - the Assisted Reproduction and Gynaecology Centre (ARGC) and the Reproductive Genetics Institute (RGI) - are the most successful in the country in terms of...
29 September 2008 - by Ailsa Stevens 
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...
2 April 2007 - by Antony Starza-Allen 
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...
26 February 2007 - by Cheryl Hudson 
Assisted reproduction patients are protesting in an unprecedented way after the recent broadcast of a highly critical BBC documentary about the UK's top IVF clinic. The Assisted Reproduction and Gynaecology Centre (ARGC) in London is under ongoing investigation by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) on a variety of...
22 January 2007 - by Antony Starza-Allen 
The UK's Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) has been heavily criticised for 'playing to the cameras' and jeopardising the fair trial of fertility expert, Mohamed Taranissi. The authority sent investigative teams, accompanied by police, to two fertility clinics owned by the doctor at the same time...
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