Junkie Dr Ali Bukhari, has Fled, back to Pakistan, and Keogan, is now, a Convicted Paedophile, Child Pornography, possession and for Distributing?

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Medical Council takes 32 court cases to suspend or restrict the practice of doctors

Dr Ronan Keogan and Dr Syed Waqas Ali Bukhari are two such cases in which a ban on reporting was lifted after applications by the Sunday Independent

Dr Ronan Keogan leaving Dublin Circuit Criminal Court where he pleaded guilty to possessing and distributing child abuse material. Picture by Collins Courts
Dr Syed Waqas Ali Bukhari appealed against his five-month prison sentences

Dr Ronan Keogan leaving Dublin Circuit Criminal Court where he pleaded guilty to possessing and distributing child abuse material. Picture by Collins Courts

Mark Tighe

January 01 2023 02:30 AM


The Medical Council has taken 32 court applications to suspend or restrict the practice of doctors in the last five years under a law that normally prohibits journalists from reporting on these cases.

Last month the Sunday Independent was successful in lifting the reporting ban on two such cases. In the first the president of the High Court, Judge David Barniville, permitted reporting on the suspension of Dr Ronan Keogan in Templeogue after he was convicted of possessing and distributing child abuse imagery.

In a second case Judge Barniville lifted reporting restrictions in the case of Dr Syed Waqas Ali Bukhari, who he had allowed “by the skin of his teeth” to keep practising medicine under strict undertakings given last July.

The Medical Council first brought a suspension application in 2021 after the doctor admitted having substance abuse issues and amassing a string of road traffic convictions including for drink-driving and possession of cannabis.

Under the 2007 Medical Practitioners Act the Medical Council can make an application to the High Court to have a doctor suspended or to have restrictions imposed pending a full fitness to practice hearing. The default position is that such Section 60 applications are heard in private, although the act says the judge hearing the case can decide if it is appropriate to hold it in public.

Records compiled by the Medical Council show that between 2017 and the end of 2022 it took 32 applications to the High Court resulting in 24 undertakings from doctors. Journalists are excluded from such hearings although the public can learn if a doctor is restricted by searching the public register maintained by the Medical Council.

Judge Barniville issued a detailed judgment about Dr Bukhari’s case in July where his identity was protected. In that judgment it was revealed the Medical Council decided to seek the doctor’s suspension after receiving correspondence from a garda superintendent that alleged the doctor had come into contact with gardaí while in his surgical scrubs.

The garda said he had “valid and genuinely held patient safety concerns” given his multiple road traffic convictions and conviction under the misuse of drugs act. The doctor maintained that he had never taken drugs or drink while travelling to or from work.​

Judge Barniville recorded that the doctor had breached an undertaking to the court by failing to comply with road traffic law. He was caught driving without insurance despite being banned from driving. The doctor admitted breaching the undertaking but insisted he had little option. He said he was forced to drive his wife when he suspected she was having a “coronary event” and it was not safe to wait for an ambulance or taxi.

Dr Syed Waqas Ali Bukhari appealed against his five-month prison sentences

Dr Syed Waqas Ali Bukhari appealed against his five-month prison sentences

The judge noted the doctor did not bring his wife to hospital after being stopped by gardaí and instead she received tests abroad on a later date.

The incident caused the Medical Council to renew its application to suspend the doctor as it “had lost all trust and confidence” in his “willingness and ability to comply” with undertakings

Judge Barniville ruled “by the finest margin possible” to give the doctor a “last chance” and accepted new undertakings rather than suspend him because of the absence of evidence of a threat to patient safety. Dr Bukhari later spoke to a Sunday World reporter and said he had “not been suspended or anything” in reference to his work.

Although judges have previously lifted reporting restrictions on judgments through their own volition or after an application from the Medical Council, this was the first time a media organisation had sought to report on an ongoing Section 60 suspension hearing. Judge Barniville said the application raised “significant and important issues”.

A hearing was held on December 7 where the Medical Council said it was neutral in the application. John Freeman, barrister for Mediahuis, owner of the Sunday Independent, said that given Dr Bukhari was facing disciplinary actions for his convictions in open court, which included two five-month prison sentences which are under appeal, it was an interference with this newspaper’s rights to freedom of expression under the constitution and the European Convention of Human Rights to prevent it from reporting on matters of public interest.

In a responding affidavit, Dr Bukhari said that since moving to Ireland from Pakistan in 2014 he had worked in Waterford, Navan, Letterkenny, Limerick and his most recent job was in Cavan up to last July. He had references from senior colleagues about how he never compromised patient safety and said he had not consumed alcohol or illegal substances since August 2021.

He had been due to start a new job in September with Global Medical but this was withdrawn following the Sunday World article. The doctor, who said he was recently married and had a baby on the way, was in “dire financial straits” and further articles risked compounding his difficulties. He insisted the Medical Council investigation was not an issue of public interest but “an intensely personal matter”.

When Dr Bukhari appealed against his five-month prison sentences on December 8 in Cavan Circuit Court, his solicitor told the judge he had returned to Pakistan as his grandmother was ill. 

Before Judge Barniville delivered his judgment on December 21 on the Sunday Independent application, David Lennon, the doctor’s barrister, said his client’s grandmother had since died but he intended to return to Ireland to participate in the Medical Council’s ongoing investigation.

Granting the application, Judge Barniville said the balance clearly fell in favour of allowing the doctor to be named given there had already been significant publicity about his conduct and guilty pleas in open court.

He said he did not believe identification of the doctor would have the damaging effect contended by Dr Bukhari given the significant damage already done by reports on his multiple convictions.

The judge noted that Dr Bukhari’s quote to the Sunday World that “they haven’t suspended me or anything” was “misleading” as it did not allude to the comprehensive undertakings the doctor agreed to in lieu of a suspension.

Mediahuis did not apply for its costs in the case but the doctor sought his costs. This was refused by the judge. 

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