Medical regulators were right to ban a doctor who accepted instructions from a firm where his wife was a salaried partner, the High Court has ruled.
Mr Justice Mostyn dismissed an appeal from Dr Zuber Bux against the findings of the Medical Practitioners Tribunal, agreeing that he dishonestly and deliberately wrote formulaic reports diagnosing food poisoning.
Bux had paused medico-legal work in 2011 but began five years later to accept instructions solely from Lancashire firm AMS Solicitors Limited, where his wife Sehana Bux was then a partner.
The tribunal had found that the doctor acted in a state of conflict of interest and made diagnoses without proper evidence and without looking at any range of opinions. Between 2016 and 2017 he wrote reports in 684 cases and was paid £180 for each. A total of £123,120 was paid into a service company, Bux Incorporated Ltd, of which he held 55% and his wife 45%.
Bux disputed that there was a conflict of interest, arguing that the tribunal had applied an incorrect legal test to the question of dishonesty and imposed a sanction that was disproportionate, unduly harsh and unreasonable. He claimed that a ‘Chinese wall’ created by his wife’s firm ensured there was no discussion of cases in which he was involved.
Mr Justice Mostyn said the tribunal had been ‘wholly correct’ to find that Bux had a personal interest in keeping this ‘lucrative’ business going and that he made no disclosure about his marital relationship either to defendant insurers or the court. He noted there had never been a suggestion that Bux ever wrote a report which was unfavourable to a claimant.
‘It would have been perverse and wrong for the MPT to have decided anything other than that the appellant had an actual, serious, conflict of interest,’ said the judge,
The court heard that Bux claimed that, in response to questions from defendant solicitors, he had sought clarification from the General Medical Council and his defence union over links with his wife’s firm, and had been told he was following guidelines.
Mr Justice Mostyn said this was ‘completely untrue’ and that Bux knew exactly what he was doing.
‘[The tribunal] judged that ordinary decent people would consider his conduct dishonest and that it was financially motivated,’ added the judge. ‘This was a cut and dried decision. Once his defence of making a stupid mistake was rejected, as I would suggest, was inevitable, then the subsequent findings would follow as night follows day.’