THE Medical Practitioners’ Tribunal Service (MPTS) investigating the fitness to practice of the doctor who was responsible for the welfare of Baha Mousa at the time of his death in British custody in Iraq, has announced that Dr Derek Keilloh is not fit to practice and has had his membership of the General Medical Council (GMC) erased.
He will not be allowed to practice as a Doctor for at least five years and, even then, will be required to prove to the MPTS that he is fit to resume practice before being restored.
Public Interest Lawyers (PIL) represent the father of Baha Mousa, Colonel Daoud Mousa.
PIL lodged a complaint with the GMC in 2007 on Col. Mousa’s behalf. The complaint alleged that Dr Keilloh had failed in his professional capacity to offer adequate levels of care and protection to Baha Mousa and other Iraqi civilians detained at Battle Group Main, the main base of the 1st Queen’s Lancashire Regiment (1QLR) during the UK’s occupation of South East Iraq.
Baha Mousa died after three days of vicious abuse at Battle Group Main. Dr Keilloh was the Medical Officer overseeing detainee care at the base and attempted over 20 minutes or so to resuscitate Baha Mousa.
At the public inquiry into Baha Mousa’s death, Dr Keilloh insisted that he had not noticed extensive injuries on Baha Mousa’s body whilst seeking to resuscitate him.
He claimed to have only noticed an area of dried blood at his nostrils. By contrast, the final report of the chair of the Inquiry, Sir William Gage, recorded that Baha Mousa had sustained 93 different external injuries prior to his death.
The MPTS has undertaken a lengthy investigation into Dr Keilloh’s fitness to practice. On 16 December 2012, the Panel announced which of the allegations of misconduct made against Dr Keilloh were found to be proven.
Of 51 allegations, 30 were admitted by Dr Keilloh and 17 were not admitted but were found proven by the Panel. Of those allegations proven, the following were key:
i.) That Dr Keilloh failed to conduct any, or any adequate, examination of Baha Mousa’s body after his death.
ii.) That Dr Keilloh failed to ensure that the physical condition of the other civilian detainees then held at Battlegroup Main was assessed.
iii.) That Dr Keilloh failed to take any, or any adequate, action to safeguard the well being of the civilian detainees held at Battlegroup Main.
iv.) That Dr Keilloh’s account to the Court Martial of 11 December 2006 and the Baha Mousa Public Inquiry with regards the extent of the injuries he had observed on Baha Mousa and two other injured detainees was untrue and his conduct in this regard was misleading, and these findings led the Panel to conclude that Dr Keilloh’s fitness to practice was impaired.
They announced that he would be struck from the GMC register and would not be permitted to practice as a Doctor for at least five years.
Speaking following confirmation of the Panel’s findings, Colonel Mousa stated: ‘I wanted the Doctor to be banned for life. He did not have humanity in his heart when he was supposed to be caring for my son.
‘He did not do his job properly.’
PIL welcome the Panel’s determination on sanction. It marks a welcome acknowledgment that professional, legal and moral obligations are borne by all of those in positions of power and responsibility working in conflict zones.
PIL commend the GMC for taking a strong stance on the crucial issues of professional responsibility and integrity.
With 15 months having passed since the conclusion of the Baha Mousa Inquiry, it is remarkable that only one soldier and now one doctor have faced disciplinary or criminal proceedings for what is recognised to have been the unlawful killing of a man held in British custody.
PIL hope that this case marks a new chapter in the British authorities acknowledging, and accepting responsibility for, the many crimes committed in Iraq against Iraqi civilians.
PIL notes that all of its hundreds of other Iraqi cases involving torture and ill-treatment in UK detention also involve doctors failing in basic medical standards.
Phil Shiner of Public Interest Lawyers said: ‘Baha Mousa died with appalling injuries to his face and body.
‘Dr Keilloh saw these injuries and failed to take any action to safeguard the other detainees or report what he had seen.
‘The medical profession is well rid of such a man. All those UK doctors in Iraq who also saw signs of ill-treatment of Iraqi detainees but took no action had best start to instruct lawyers.’
Meanwhile, lawyers for a Pakistani man, whose father was killed by a US drone strike, have confirmed that he is to appeal a High Court judgement, handed down on 21 December which denies him permission to continue his legal action which seeks to determine the legality of intelligence sharing in relation to GCHQ assistance in CIA drone strikes.
Noor Khan – whose father was killed in a CIA strike on a peaceful meeting in March 2011 – issued legal proceedings in March of this year against the Foreign Secretary in order to clarify the British Government’s reported policy of supporting the CIA’s covert campaign of attacks on his home region of Waziristan, using remotely-controlled robotic aircraft.
Supported by legal action charity Reprieve and solicitors Leigh Day, Mr Khan’s legal challenge asserts that this practice may be illegal.
British law suggests that in these circumstances UK intelligence staff and those who direct their actions could be committing various criminal offences, including conspiracy to murder.
Mr Khan was today denied permission to progress his case to a full hearing, but intends to appeal his case immediately.
The issue of CIA drones killing innocent civilians is also being pursued before the Peshawar High Court in Pakistan, where Chief Justice Dost Muhammad has already instructed the Pakistan government to share details of strikes, including that of March 2011, with the parties in order to determine the extent of the casualties.
The suit in the Peshawar High Court is also asking the Pakistani government to disclose their involvement – if any – in the drone strikes. The next hearing in this case is expected early next year when the Pakistani government will have to disclose the identities of those killed in the strikes.
Rosa Curling from law firm Leigh Day, who represents Mr Khan, said: ‘We are disappointed that the court has decided not to engage in this very important issue, leaving our client no option but to appeal the decision.
‘This claim raises very serious questions and issues about the UK’s involvement in the CIA drone attacks in Pakistan.
‘This case seeks to determine the legality of intelligence sharing in relation to GCHQ assistance in CIA drone strikes.
‘Those providing such information could be committing serious criminal offences, including conspiracy to murder.’