Doctor to be struck off medical register after over 100 indecent images of children found
- Credit: Archant
A doctor practising in Welwyn Hatfield and Chelmsford is set to be struck off the UK medical register after police found more than 100 indecent images of children on his computers at home.
Dr Andrew Francis-Lang was acquitted following a criminal trial at Chelmsford Crown Court in June 2018, but the Medical Practitioners' Tribunal Service has now found his fitness to practise medicine impaired and has ordered his erasure from the General Medical Council's register. This means he will no longer be able to practise in the UK.
At the criminal proceedings, Dr Francis-Lang stated that he had no knowledge of how the images had come to be on his three computers at home, or how the images had been subsequently deleted. He asserted that they may have been downloaded by accident or by the deliberate act of another person without his knowledge.
His denials were reiterated in October 2020, when he claimed the 128 child abuse images were not made, downloaded or possessed by him "deliberately or intentionally".
He later admitted that he was addicted to pornography, and "plagued by pop-ups when using adult websites" in 2009 that were "aggressive and vicious".
"These had caused his computer to crash on many occasions and caused virus infections of his hard drive. This had led him to download free, and eventually to purchase, anti-virus software."
The tribunal was also "very concerned by Dr Francis-Lang’s change of position, which had occurred only at ‘the eleventh hour’" and the police also stated to the GMC it was unlikely that the images could have been downloaded accidentally.
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He also claimed that some of the images were from looking at naturist and nudist websites in 2013 to research holiday destinations.
But the tribunal believes: "Dr Francis-Lang’s assertion that he had no interest in naked pictures of young girls was significantly undermined given that a substantial number of files in the torrents schedule related to young, naked girls."
On the balance of probabilities, they determined that Dr Francis-Lang had intentionally downloaded and possessed the images.
Dr Francis-Lang did not take the opportunity to provide any written submissions regarding misconduct or impairment, had not provided any insight or remorse or had taken steps to remediate his conduct in any way so there was no evidence to show that the misconduct would not be repeated.
"The tribunal also noted Dr Francis-Lang’s lack of insight and remorse and his persistent refusal to take responsibility for his actions and considered these to be additional important aggravating factors in the case.
"The tribunal determined that Dr Francis-Lang’s actions have brought the reputation of the profession seriously into disrepute. It considered that members of the public would find his actions to be deplorable and morally reprehensible.
"The tribunal determined the only appropriate and proportionate sanction, in this case, was one of erasure. Only a sanction of erasure was sufficient to promote and maintain public confidence in the medical profession, and to uphold proper professional standards and conduct for members of the profession."
Unless Dr Francis-Lang exercises his right of appeal, his name will be erased from the Medical Register 28 days from the date on which written notice of this decision is deemed to have been served upon him. A note explaining his right of appeal will be sent to him.