This month the UK's most successful IVF Clinic - the Assisted Reproduction and Gynaecology Centre (ARGC) - was told by the regulator that it will have to appoint a new person to take legal responsibility for the clinic, or face closure.
The ruling follows an ongoing dispute between the clinic's medical director, leading fertility expert Dr Mohammed Taranissi, and the regulatory body, the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA). The dispute centres on claims that one of his two fertility clinics has been operating without a valid licence, an allegation which he denies.
Despite this set-back, Taranissi said: 'We are pleased to have been told that we can continue to work and my priority is now my patients.'
This latest ruling forms part of an ongoing saga which began when, on 15 January this year, police-assisted HFEA teams conducted simultaneous, unannounced inspections of Taranissi's two London clinics, an action which the HFEA claims was the only way to obtain the regulatory documents required by law.
Simultaneously, the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) aired a specialist investigative report - 'IVF Undercover' - showing coverage of the raids, an incident which the HFEA claims was coincidental: 'The programme was made by the BBC and we have not been involved in its making in any way'.
Taranissi pressed charges against the HFEA and, on 29 June, the High Court ruled that, through calling upon evidence that was 'seriously defective' and 'highly misleading', the HFEA had displayed unlawful behaviour in obtaining search warrants used in the raids. Taranissi is also in the process of suing the BBC for libel.
Dr Taranissi has been given until the 9 August 2007 to nominate a new 'responsible person' to oversee the clinic's legal proceedings, although he is reportedly appealing the ruling.
Despite the allegations, Taranissi has received support from the ARGC defence group, a pressure group comprised of many of Taranissi's former patients: 'We gratefully acknowledge and admire Dr Taranissi's dedication to his patients, putting our care first before his own frustrations of the total injustice he has been done by the HFEA'.
Two other regulatory bodies - the Healthcare Commission and the General Medical Council - have now launched their own independent investigations into the allegations that Taranissi's second clinic has been operating unlicensed.