A high-flying businessman was hauled before the court for a tirade of religious abuse at a Muslim immigration official waiting to check his passport.
Anthony Holt, 65, had become wound up after reading an article in the Daily Mail about the ‘victimisation of Christianity’ on a flight into Manchester.
When he landed, the retired consultant refused to go through a desk where Sayima Mohammed was on duty.
He astonished witnesses by pointing at her and saying: “I don’t want to be seen by that. I don’t want to be seen by any Muslim in a position of authority. I want to be seen by someone who’s English. This is England. This is my country. I’m not into all this Islam.”
...He had been reading an article in the Mail in which the former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey spoke of the ‘victimisation of Christians and Christianity’.
A couple of weeks later, the Mail published another article about the so-called 'victimisation of Christianity'.
It involves the case of Dr Richard Scott, who has been given a written warning by the General Medical Council. Scott was supported by the Christian Legal Centre, who have been prominent is bringing similar cases to the media's attention. Days before the final ruling, the GMC had told the CLC that 'premature comment...can be unhelpful'.
The Mail's reporting of the case is wholly one-sided. The paper's James Tozer writes:
A Christian doctor yesterday claimed he was a victim of religious discrimination after being disciplined for discussing his faith with a suicidal patient.
Richard Scott, 51, a former medical missionary, was reprimanded despite the 24-year-old complainant not even having to turn up to give evidence.
But the GMC Committee makes clear:
The Committee received oral testimony from you [Dr Scott] and Patient A. Patient A was permitted to give his evidence by telephone following the Committee’s earlier ruling. Patient A was supervised throughout his evidence by a GMC legal representative at the direction of the Committee. You were both subject to cross examination and were asked questions by the Committee.
It is worth reading the full verdict of the Committee as it provides a much fuller picture of what actually happened and what informed their decision.
The Mail neglects to mention crucial parts of the Committee's judgement. For example, their clear statement that:
this case did not constitute an attack on the Christian faith. GMC guidance acknowledges the role of faith issues in medical care and the right of doctors to raise such matters within the consultation provided that it is done with the patient’s consent and with sensitivity and respect for any faith they might have.
The Committee does not consider that matters of faith are irrelevant to clinical care, and accepts that there are many circumstances in which spiritual assistance is valuable.
Lord Carey pops up in the Mail's article to say:
'I’m extremely saddened by this ruling. Many Christians will be asking whether they any longer have the freedom to express their faith.'
It seems clear - as with his comments on the BBC BC/AD case - that he has not made himself aware of all the evidence before issuing his ready-made comment.
Scott was accused of telling Patient A that he was:
not going to offer him any medical help or tests or advice
you had something to offer Patient A which would cure him for good and that this was his one and only hope in recovery
if Patient A did not turn towards Jesus and hand Jesus his suffering, then Patient A would suffer for the rest of his life
his own religion could not offer him any protection and that no other religion in the world could offer Patient A what Jesus could offer him
the devil haunts people who do not turn to Jesus and hand him their suffering
And Scott was:
told by Patient A that he had not come to a doctor to talk about religion and that he had come to the Practice because he was unwell and desperately needed help, or words to that effect.
The Committee ruled it was proved - or, in one case, proved in part - that these these statements had indeed been said.
Crucially, the Mail also neglects to mention that Dr Scott admitted that if Patient A's recollection was correct:
a significant departure from Good Medical Practice and supplemental guidance...would have occurred.
And, in the end, the Committee believed Patient A's recollection was correct. They explained:
Having made due allowance for the fact that Patient A gave his evidence by telephone and not in person, the Committee considers that it was able to obtain a sufficient impression of his truthfulness from the manner in which he gave his evidence and his response to questions. The Committee consider that Patient A gave credible evidence, direct answers and made all due allowances in your favour.
The Committee considered that while you sought to answer questions truthfully a number of your responses were in conflict with the evidence. Specifically, the Committee noted that it is unlikely that the very full record of the consultation which you made would have omitted mention of the treatment plan if it had been discussed – since this would have happened before the discussion about religion. The Committee regards it as unlikely that the discussion of your faith lasted only two and a half minutes as you contended, bearing in mind the breadth of material covered during your discussion. Furthermore, regrettably, at times you appeared to be evasive when answering questions.
The suggestion that Dr Scott was at times 'evasive' and some of his answers were 'in conflict with the evidence' is also absent from the Mail's version of this story.
The Committee pointed out:
Your actions were in direct conflict with the GMC’s supplementary guidance: Personal Beliefs and Medical Practice. This states in paragraph 19 that:
‘You must not impose your beliefs on patients, or cause distress by the inappropriate or insensitive expression of religious, political or other beliefs or views’.
Your actions also contravened Paragraph 33 of Good Medical Practice:
‘You must not express to your patients your personal beliefs including political, religious or moral beliefs, in ways that exploit their vulnerability or that are likely to cause them distress.’
Part of the evidence for reaching their conclusion came from the media interviews Scott had done to gain support and bang the 'victimisation of Christianity' drum:
You subsequently confirmed, via National media, that you had sought to suggest your own faith had more to offer than that of the patient.
In this way you sought to impose your own beliefs on your patient.
After quoting Dr Scott, the Christian Legal Centre, Lord Carey and the Christian Medical Fellowship, the Mail publishes a two-sentence quote from a GMC spokesman right at the end of the article.
(Thanks to Press Not Sorry and Jon)