Three veterinary surgeons have been suspended for one month by the RCVS Disciplinary Committee after admitting dishonesty in relation to the submission of mobility score assessment readings required as part of a dairy animal health and welfare scheme.

Alexander McKinstry and Andrew Rutherford were both charged with writing letters indicating that Rebecca Inman had undertaken an assessment when in fact they had done the assessments themselves, the former without Ms Inman's knowledge, the latter with. 

The charges were that all three, who worked at the same practice group in North-West, had been dishonest, misleading and risked undermining procedures designed to promote animal welfare. 

At the outset of the hearing, all three admitted the charges against them and the Committee found serious professional misconduct in the case of all admitted charges.

The Committee then considered the sanctions for all three of the respondents.

In the cases against Mr McKinstry and Mr Rutherford, the Committee considered that the conduct was premeditated, that they had an increased position of trust and responsibility as practice directors at the time of the misconduct and that it was a breach of trust for the farm clients.

Additionally, Mr McKinstry had put Dr Inman’s professional reputation in jeopardy by not informing her of his conduct.

In mitigation, the Committee considered that there was no harm or risk of harm to animals, the conduct was not done for personal financial gain, that both had been open and frank in their dealings with the RCVS and had shown insight into their behaviour, and their previous good character and unblemished careers.

Regarding Dr Inman, the aggravating factors were the abuse of her position of trust as a registered mobility scorer and the breach of trust with the farm clients.

In mitigation the Committee considered that it had been an isolated incident involving, from Dr Inman’s point of view, a single telephone call.

It also considered that there was no risk of harm, no personal financial gain, her open and frank admissions in dealings with the RCVS, demonstration of insight, previously unblemished record, and efforts to avoid repeats and remediate past misconduct.

Paul Morris, chairing the Committee and speaking on its behalf, said: “The Committee carefully weighed the demands of the public interest, as well as the previously stated mitigating and aggravating factors and all the particular circumstances before it.

"The Committee concluded that a period of suspension was sufficient and proportionate in this case to meet the need to maintain public confidence in the profession and uphold proper standards.

"It had a sufficient deterrent effect upon others in the profession and was sufficient to mark that the disgraceful conduct was unacceptable.

“The Committee considered all of the factors before it, and decided that given the personal mitigation in this case, as set out above, a period of one month was appropriate and proportionate in all the circumstances."

The full findings of the Disciplinary Committee regarding this case can be found at: 

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