On 5th April 2023 the High Court handed down judgment in Adil v General Medical Council [2023] EWHC 797 (Admin), an appeal brought by a consultant surgeon whose registration had been suspended by the GMC following his release of several social media videos. In these videos Mr Adil had claimed that the Covid-19 pandemic was a hoax and had promoted various other conspiracy theories. Mr Adil also expressed views on Covid-19 vaccines in his videos, claiming that they would be administered to everyone, by force if necessary, and could be used to control the world’s population. The case is the first in which the Court has been asked to consider the extent to which the GMC can legitimately interfere with the right to freedom of expression of doctors and sanction them on the basis of their comments.

In June 2022, the Medical Practitioners Tribunal had found that through these videos Mr Adil used his position as a doctor in the UK to undermine public health and public confidence in the medical profession. It concluded that as a result his fitness to practice was impaired by reason of misconduct, and that a sanction of six months immediate suspension from the medical register was appropriate.

Mr Adil appealed to the High Court, principally on the grounds that the Tribunal’s decision was inconsistent with his Article 10 rights (the right to freedom of expression). His appeal was dismissed, with the Court holding that in the circumstances the Tribunal’s decision represented a proportionate interference with his freedom of expression. The Court also held that the Tribunal had been entitled to conclude that his fitness to practice was impaired, and that a 6-month suspension from the register was appropriate due to the need to maintain public trust in medical practitioners.

Martin Forde KC represented the GMC, assisted by Thomas Hayes.

The full judgment can be found here.