Richard Booth QC, instructed by James Preece of Clyde & Co, has successfully defended a veterinary surgeon who was accused of dishonesty and of having been complicit in the taking of new-born French Bulldog puppies by two staff in the practice where he was working.

In RCVS v X (2019), before the Disciplinary Committee of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS), X had performed a caesarean section on a French Bulldog bitch, delivering 6 puppies. However, around 4 hours after delivery, and with the bitch being kept in the surgery because of ongoing concerns about her, only 4 puppies were discharged by X. This was because another vet and an animal care assistant had each taken a puppy shortly after they were delivered. When X came to write up the clinical records at the end of his night shift, some 9 hours after delivery, he wrote that 4 puppies had been delivered. (X admitted from the outset that his notes were inaccurate but denied dishonesty or any intention to mislead.)

The case turned on (a) X’s awareness in the first place that he had delivered 6 puppies and (b) X’s awareness of the plan formed by the other vet and animal care assistant to take a puppy each.

Following Richard’s effective cross-examination of the witnesses who were present at the delivery, the Disciplinary Committee did not find dishonesty to have been proved by the College. The Committee found that although X’s clinical records were in fact misleading, he had not intended to mislead when writing them.

The Disciplinary Committee found that X’s record-keeping failings did not amount to disgraceful conduct in a professional respect.