'Bloodgate' physio has ban overturned

Former Harlequins physiotherapist Steph Brennan has won a High Court battle over the decision to strike him off for his part in the "Bloodgate" rugby controversy.

Lawyers for the top physio accused the Health Professions Council (HPC) of unlawfully imposing a "one strike and you are out for good" approach to his case, arguing that while his conduct had merited a sanction, it did not deserve one of such "gross severity".

Mr Justice Ouseley, sitting at London's High Court, yesterday quashed the decision against him and ordered the HPC's conduct and competence committee to reconsider the case.

Brennan had been due to start work with the RFU as an England physio until his role in the systematic use of fake blood capsules during matches was exposed. He helped fabricate a blood injury to winger Tom Williams during Harlequins' Heineken Cup quarter-final defeat by Leinster at Twickenham Stoop in April 2009.

He admitted five instances of faking blood injuries. On three occasions this was for player welfare, while Brennan said the fourth was to get an unnamed player in a key position onto the pitch following the sin-binning of a team-mate.

Stephen Brassington, for the HPC, argued the striking-off order was not open to legal challenge and that it had been the only appropriate penalty for the damage caused to his profession.

But Mr Justice Ouseley ruled that the reasoning of the HPC's disciplinary committee was "legally inadequate".

He said Brennan's dishonesty had occurred in unusual circumstances, and patients had not been harmed in the action carried out "at the behest of a dishonest coach on behalf of their joint employer".

He ordered the HPC to pay Brennan's legal costs of more than 12,000.