Top heart surgeon denies abusing children

A renowned heart surgeon has strongly denied any wrong-doing after he was temporarily suspended from the medical register following child abuse allegations.

The General Medical Council took the action pending a hearing involving paediatric cardiologist Dr Philipp Bonhoeffer.

The Metropolitan Police said the allegations involved children in Kenya but no arrests were made.

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Prof Bonhoeffer, who used to work at London’s Great Ormond Street Hospital, issued a statement through the Medical Protection Society saying: “I strongly deny any impropriety or misconduct.”

The former head of cardiology at Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital and professor of cardiology with the Institute of Child Health at University College London was given an interim suspension order by the GMC, barring him from practising in the UK while its proceedings are going on.

Prof Bonhoeffer was due to appear before a fitness to practise panel at the GMC but the case was suspended after his lawyers applied for a judicial review, which is expected to be heard at the High Court in London tomorrow.

His lawyers have objected to the GMC wanting to use hearsay evidence for its case.

Prof Bonhoeffer has never been arrested over the claims.

The Met said it first received the allegations in September 2008.

A spokesman said: “An investigation commenced and the alleged victims were interviewed in Kenya.

“The investigation concluded in April 2009. No arrest was made as the alleged offences were not prosecutable in the UK for legal reasons.

“Intelligence databases were updated at that time and information shared with relevant agencies as necessary to discharge our duty to safeguard children.”

During an initial hearing into the case last year, Alyson Leslie, chair of the GMC panel, said: “The issues and alleged misconduct which have led to Dr Bonhoeffer’s referral to this panel include concerns of a most serious nature, particularly in the light of his medical speciality, which entails regular access to children.”

A Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) spokeswoman said: “This doctor no longer works for us. He stopped seeing patients at the trust in 2009.

“We have been reassured by the GMC that this hearing is unconnected with his duties at the hospital.

“We have absolutely no reason to believe that anyone in the hospital has been put at risk.

“However, any families seen by him at GOSH who are concerned can call 020 7762 6200.”