The British Medical Association is suing a whistleblowing surgeon for legal costs of up to £250,000 following the collapse of a High Court battle.
Consultant paediatric surgeon Edwin Jesudason made protected disclosures about the surgery department at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital Foundation Trust in 2009 and said the BMA acted against his wishes to settle the case in 2012.
Mr Jesudason won a High Court injunction in July 2012 to prevent the trust dismissing him but the case collapsed in December that year when the BMA claimed he ignored the advice of its legal team and shared information with third parties.
A compromise agreement offered to Mr Jesudason by the trust before the case collapsed demanded that he destroy documents including letters which he said exposed false claims made against another whistleblowing surgeon, Shiban Ahmed, at Alder Hey.
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Instead, Mr Jesudason shared the documents with the Care Quality Commission, Mr Ahmed and the campaign group Patients First, which were subsequently published in Private Eye. Mr Jesudason claims he did inform the BMA he was sharing information with third parties.
As a result the BMA pulled out of the case which caused it to collapse. The association is now pursuing Mr Jesudason for its legal costs. If the BMA wins, Mr Jesudason told HSJ he would face bankruptcy.
Mr Jesudason said: “The trust offered me a six figure sum to go quietly which I refused. I just wanted matters investigated.
“Days before we sought to make the injunction permanent and against my express wishes, my BMA lawyers tried to get an even bigger pay-off in return for destruction of the concealed evidence about Mr Ahmed.
“I have not slept under a roof of my own since 2012, and the BMA is now suing me for £250,000 and has agreed to spend the same again to retrieve this.
“If they win it would render me insolvent.”
Mr Jesudason said he was encouraged by the support he received at the BMA’s annual representative meeting last week, where he received a standing ovation from some delegates.
The meeting called on health secretary Jeremy Hunt to hold a public inquiry into whistleblowing and to explore how the BMA could offer more support to whistleblowers.
A BMA spokesman said: “The BMA has previously provided Mr Jesudason with individual help, advice and support in relation to matters relating to his employment.
“This has included securing a court injunction to prevent his trust from holding a meeting at which he would have been dismissed.
“It was Mr Jesudason’s subsequent actions which led to the collapse of the High Court case.
“He did not follow advice provided by the legal team instructed to represent him and shared confidential information externally while assuring his legal team that he had not done so.
“This is a regrettable situation and we are glad that a date for mediation has now been set for later in the summer to seek to resolve the situation.”