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Fertility doctor wins libel costs and tops IVF league tables

13 October 2008
Appeared in BioNews 479

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 'live birth rates' (the number of babies born compared to the number of IVF cycles carried out). Meanwhile, the High Court has ruled that the BBC must pay half a million pounds towards Mr Taranissi's ongoing libel action over an undercover 'Panorama' documentary programme in which police-assisted HFEA teams unlawfully raided his two clinics.

Out of more than 100 clinics offering IVF in Britain, the ARGC achieved double the national average for live births following IVF or ICSI, where the sperm is injected directly into the egg. Figures for 2006, the most up-to-date available, show a live birth rate of 61 percent for the ARGC compared to 31 percent nationally.

The figures were published as the BBC was ordered by the High Court to pay £500,000 to Mr Taranissi after its lawyers took the decision to drop a 15-month-old defence to his claim that the allegations about his techniques, aired in 'Panorama', were not defamatory but part of 'responsible journalism' and thereby made in the public interest. The decision was allegedly taken to avoid revealing the sources for the programme. However, Richard Rampton QC, Mr Taranissi's counsel, accused the BBC of exaggerating the number of sources who contributed to the allegations.

'It's Alice in Wonderland stuff', he told the Times newspaper, adding that 'one of the so-called medical experts was actually an administrative assistant'. He also criticised Panorama for 'misleading' viewers, which the BBC has denied.

The BBC still denies libel. Its QC, Adrienne Page, said the payment of costs should wait until the case had finished. She said: 'All this order can do is create the very real and substantial risk that there will be an injustice to the BBC in the event, which the court must assume is a real possibility, that they succeed in the justification defence'.

The case will be brought to a close in January when Mr Taranissi's claim is due to be tried by a judge sitting without a jury.

BBC ordered to pay £500,000 costs
BBC News Online |  8 October 2008
BBC's £500,000 legal bill for fertility clinic investigation
Daily Mail |  9 October 2008
BBC to pay half a million pounds costs in IVF libel case
The Times |  9 October 2008
Doctor in IVF furore is best, says watchdog
The Guardian |  9 October 2008
IVF successes top 10,000 per year
BBC News Online |  8 October 2008
Taranissi tops IVF league table
Press Association |  9 October 2008
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....
15 June 2009 - by MacKenna Roberts 
The BBC will be paying a steep legal bill, estimated between one and six million pounds, after settling a libel case with Dr Mohamed Taranissi, who is considered to be one of Britain's most successful fertility specialists....
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...
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...
10 December 2007 - by Dr Kirsty Horsey 
New figures, released last week by the UK's Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA), show that the number of women undergoing fertility treatment in the UK is continuing to rise, as are success rates. Data for 2005 shows a six per cent increase in the number...
12 November 2007 - by Ailsa Stevens 
Leading UK fertility expert, Mohamed Taranissi, has been cleared of allegations made by the government's fertility watchdog - the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) - falsely accusing him of exaggerating his success rates and offering 'unnecessary and unproven' treatments. This latest ruling marks the end of an ongoing...
13 August 2007 - by Katy Sinclair 
Mohammed Taranissi, reputed to be the world's richest fertility doctor, has been granted a temporary reprieve by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA), in order that his appeal might be heard. Last month, Dr Taranissi, chief medical director of the Assisted Reproduction and Gynaecology Centre (ARGC...
31 July 2007 - by Ailsa Stevens 
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...
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