Following a trial at Newcastle Crown Court in April 2014, Mr Thompson - who according to the Guardian had at one point been tipped for the job of Chief Veterinary Officer - was convicted of the manslaughter of David Kochs at Mr Thompson’s flat during a crystal-meth-fuelled 'extreme' sadomasochistic gay sex session. He was also convicted of assault causing actual bodily harm (also on Mr Kochs) and possession of methylamphetamine, a Class A controlled drug, both offences occurring on the same night. Mr Thompson was subsequently sentenced to a total of fifteen years’ imprisonment.
Whilst the RCVS opened a case against Mr Thompson in February 2014, it only received confirmation from the Supreme Court of the final conclusion of his subsequent (and ultimately unsuccessful) appeals against his conviction and sentencing in October 2015. The Disciplinary Committee therefore served a Notice of Inquiry on Mr Thompson in November 2015.
Mr Thompson admitted the convictions but did not attend the hearing, due to his current imprisonment, nor was he represented at it; he also declined the opportunity to attend by video link. After due consideration, the Committee decided that the Notice of Inquiry had been properly served and that it was in the interests of justice to proceed in Mr Thompson’s absence.
The Committee was satisfied that Mr Thompson had been convicted of the three offences listed in the charges and concluded that he was not fit to practise as a veterinary surgeon.
Speaking on behalf of the Committee, its chairman Professor Alistair Barr said: “[We are] satisfied that the type and nature of [Mr Thompson’s] criminal conduct falls seriously below the standard expected of a member of the profession. [We have] noted that Mr Thompson recognises the disrepute his actions have brought on the profession ... and consider that [his] conduct is fundamentally incompatible with being a veterinary surgeon.
“In the circumstances, [we have] concluded that, in the public interest, there is only one proportionate sanction that could be imposed, namely the removal of Mr Thompson’s name from the Register.”
The Committee’s full findings and decision are available on the RCVS website (www.rcvs.org.uk/disciplinary).
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That has to be the most all-encompassing, super-inclusive headline ever written. Nobody need read the story now!!
George Cooper Well, I do try to encapsulate the key points in a headline, but this one certainly wasn't easy.
Crystal meth taking and manslaughter limit my ability to criticise the DC on this one!! Otherwise each to his or her own! I will try to moderate my critical comments regarding the present CVO in future as we clearly could have done worse!
Clearly there has to be sympathy for his victim and his family. Strange old world we live in.
Very lurid headline. Nothwithstanding the seriousness of what happened, can't see why his sexuality is relevant here.
Stuart Munro - Believe it or not, my headline actually understates how lurid the detail of the story was. I've spared VS members the worst of it. Those with a strong constitution can google it. Relevance of sexuality? No more or less so than if the story concerned a heterosexual act.
From what you have said I can assume therefore that if this was heterosexual, the headline would have read 'crystal meth sadomasochistic straight sex manslaughter vet struck off'.
I am writing on behalf of the British Veterinary LGBT+ group.
We have received several complaints though our group about your use of the word 'gay' in the articles headline.
I am sure that you did not mean to cause offence by this and we would like to take the opportunity to explain our reasoning.
We feel that the use of the word gay in the article's title is unnecessary and is damaging to the LGBT+ community. Reading through the article it is clear that the tragic and disturbing events described are between two people of the same sex. The sexuality of the person in question has no relevance to the content of the story and only adds sensationalism to something very severe and fortunately rare within our profession.
Including the word gay in the article's title causes offence by linking the actions of an individual to a community of people and has the potential to vilify LGBT+ individuals. If the person involved had been heterosexual then it would be strange to to use the word 'straight' in the title. The the major news outlets (BBC news, the Daily Mail, the Guardian and the RCVS article) covered this story without including the word gay in their titles.
We would like to request you amend your article's headline to remove the word 'gay'.
Founder of the BVLGBT+
I'm not entirely unsympathetic to your view. Having watched how social attitudes have changed in Britain over the last 30 years (not just about sexuality, but also attitudes towards ethnic minorities and women), I can't help but feel the country is a profoundly better place for it (whilst recognising that there is still a way to go).
Certainly it was not my intent to cause offence.
I think I should also make clear that whilst I don't set out to offend people, and certainly not gratuitously, I also reserve the right to cause offence.
Why? Because we all need to be offended from time to time. We all need to experience that end of the spectrum of human emotion in order to fully enjoy the other end, if you understand what I mean. And wouldn't the world be a duller place if we didn't have something to be offended about from time to time?
After much thought, I remain unconvinced of the need to remove the word 'gay'. This is why.
You argue that linking the actions of an individual to a community of people has the potential to vilify LGBT+ individuals.
If that were absolutely true, then men would all be rapists; Roman Catholic priests all child molesters; Muslims all bombers and so on and so on. Of course nobody believes that.
The kernel of truth in your point is that sure, the actions of an individual have, since time immemorial, reflected on the group. But that's just a harsh reality of life, which affects any group of people.
I disagree that the sexuality of the people in this story was not relevant to the story.
I'm afraid I also don't buy the argument that because the BBC, the Daily Mail and the Guardian didn't put the word 'gay' in their headline, that by extension nor should any other media outlet. That's just not how journalism works.
Anyway, other media titles did use the word in their headlines, including the Irish Mirror, International Business Times, the Daily Mirror and others.
Against your argument, I feel that essentially what you are asking is for the word 'gay' not to be associated with distasteful stories.
Whilst sympathetic to your opinion (to the extent that yes, the actions of an individual can taint the reputation of a group), I am in principle deeply uncomfortable with the idea that the media should self-censor news about the LGBT community (or any other) in a 'Good Morning Vietnam' sort of a way (the bit where Robin Williams reads the news bulletin).
Sometimes news is uncomfortable. I found this story very shocking myself. But I believe that censoring takes one down a very dangerous path.
Stuart Munro No, if it had been a heterosexual act which caused the death, I would gone with a headline of: Crystal-meth sadomasochistic sex manslaughter vet'. The reason for that is that if you look at estimates for the number of gay people in the UK, it varies between 1.5% and 15%, with the 5-7% being the figure accepted by the government and Stonewall. Therefore, it would be a reasonable assumption to expect readers of all orientations to assume that the word 'sex' in a headline refers to heterosexual sex unless prefaced by the word 'gay'.
I must write in support of Mat's comments. The headline lists Kirk Thompson's offences and the inclusion of the word 'gay' implies that his sexuality is also an offence. I strongly disagree with your argument that "it would be a reasonable assumption to expect readers of all orientations to assume that the word 'sex' in a headline refers to heterosexual sex unless prefaced by the word 'gay'": When reading a headline I would rather not make assumptions about whether the subject of the headline is from a minority group or not. Applying your reasoning would lead to headlines including details such as ethnicity, religion or skin colour of minority groups when it is not relevant. The inclusion of the word 'vet' in the headline is of course justifiable as the whole reason the article is published on your site is that it may be of interest to vets that a vet has been struck off.
I would like to join Mat Hennessey in requesting that you remove the word 'gay' from your headline.
As you are not a vet you will not be bound by the RCVS code of conduct, but I'm certain that there are other bodies to which you must answer, if not the requests of members of the profession that use your site.
Publishing Editor: Arlo Guthrie
Clinical Editor: Alasdair Hotston Moore MA VetMB CertSAC CertVR CertSAS FRCVS
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