The Disciplinary Committee of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) this week [7 December 2011] removed from the Register a veterinary surgeon formerly working in Lincolnshire after finding him guilty of serious professional misconduct for drink-driving related convictions, failing to inform his employer of these convictions, and driving whilst disqualified.
Jaroslaw Slominski, a former employer of Grants Veterinary Services plc, chose not to attend the three-day hearing. The Committee considered whether to proceed with the case, using criteria identified by the Court of Appeal in R v Jones (Anthony) in 2002 and confirmed by the House of Lords. It concluded it was in the interests of justice that the hearing should go ahead.
The charges related to two convictions Mr Slominski received on 17 March 2010 at Lincoln Magistrates Court: failure to provide a specimen of breath for analysis and driving without due care and attention (after his vehicle collided head-on with another car). Mr Slominski failed to inform his employers of these convictions, as he was contractually obliged to do, and that he was now disqualified from driving.
Having heard evidence from Mr Slominski's line manager, the Committee also found that he had driven his employer's vehicle whilst disqualified, although it could not be sure that he had done so on all the occasions alleged. Therefore, the Committee did not go on to consider an alternative part of the charge – that Mr Slominski had dishonestly claimed money from his employer by falsely submitting expenses claims.
"The combination of factors in this case, namely, the serious nature of his conviction in failing to provide a specimen of breath, his subsequent premeditated conduct in not informing his employers and driving whilst disqualified should be treated by the profession very seriously," said Disciplinary Committee Chairman Prof Peter Lees, speaking on the Committee's behalf. "The Committee has concluded that the combination of the conviction and the conduct is incompatible with Mr Slominski practising as a veterinary surgeon."
The Committee directed that Mr Slominski's name be removed from the Register.
NOTES FOR EDITORS
1) The RCVS is the regulatory body for veterinary surgeons and veterinary nurses in the UK and deals with issues of professional misconduct, maintaining the Registers of veterinary surgeons and of veterinary nurses and assuring standards of veterinary education. It also has a 'Royal College' role, which means that it is responsible for postgraduate veterinary and veterinary nursing qualifications.
2) RCVS disciplinary powers are exercised through the Preliminary Investigation and Disciplinary Committees, established in accordance with Schedule 2 to the Veterinary Surgeons Act 1966 (the 1966 Act). The RCVS has authority to deal with three types of case:
a) Fraudulent registration
b) Criminal convictions
c) Allegations of disgraceful professional conduct
3) The Disciplinary Committee is a constituted judicial tribunal under the 1966 Act and follows rules of evidence similar to those used in a court of law.
4) The burden of proving an allegation falls upon the RCVS, and the RCVS must prove to the standard that the Committee is sure.
5) A respondent veterinary surgeon may appeal a Disciplinary Committee decision to the Privy Council within 28 days of the date of the decision. If no appeal is received, the Committee's judgment takes effect after this period.
6) Further information about the hearing and the charges against Mr Slominski, as well as the Committee's decision, can be found at http://www.rcvs.org.uk/disciplinary