An east London doctor has been suspended for a year after a misconduct hearing found he grabbed the buttocks of a female colleague.

Dr Arvind Singh, associate specialist in anaesthesia at Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust (BHRUT) where he had worked since 1998, was subject of a hearing by the Medical Practitioners Tribunal. 

The tribunal found that on July 15, 2020, at around 8.15am, Dr Singh "inappropriately touched" a female colleague by grabbing her bottom with both hands without her consent.

The incident was "sexually motivated", the panel concluded.

It happened at a meeting at Queen's Hospital in Romford.

When entering the meeting, the tribunal heard he walked up behind her and “grabbed her buttocks with both hands” without her consent.

The tribunal heard that the said employee reacted angrily in front of other staff members present at the meeting and made a formal complaint to the trust the next day.

She claimed in her email that she had “felt a light touch along my back” and “sensed the presence of a person” standing behind her.

She said she assumed it may be “someone looking over her shoulder” as she held a patient list and was at the time speaking about one.

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Within three to four seconds of this, she claimed to have felt “a grab on both of her butt cheeks by two hands” and immediately turned around to find Dr Singh.

Dr Singh, the tribunal noted, sent a written apology to the co-worker 13 days after the incident wherein he called it “inappropriate, disrespectful and embarrassing.”

He said in the letter: “I hope that you will be able to forgive me."

The tribunal heard conflicting evidence into the circumstances of the case from Dr Singh and the co-worker.

One witness said in her statement dated April 20, 2022 that she saw Dr Singh approach her from behind and "grabbed her bottom with both hands".

The witness was, the tribunal heard, standing next to the woman who was grabbed at the time.

She said in the statement: “I remember thinking ’God, that’s very strange behaviour’. I thought that they may be in a relationship and that this was normal behaviour.

"It was so jokey, blatant, and in front of so many people, it seemed like a weird thing to do.”

Dr Singh, in his defence, told the tribunal that while he was hurrying to join the meeting, his shoe had stuck to the floor and caused him to trip forward.

This meant he “accidentally brushed" his colleague’s bottom with "closed fists”, the tribunal was told.

But another witness, a fellow doctor, told the tribunal in his oral evidence that Dr Singh approached her from behind and then paused for a few seconds before her reaction.

The tribunal noted that while all of the witnesses agreed that it was common for shoes to stick to the floor in the area, none of them saw Dr Singh trip on this occasion.

The tribunal said the evidence suggested that Dr Singh was “stationary" when he touched his colleague and that it was not accidental because of a fall.

It noted that Dr Singh had denied any sexual motivation or intention throughout the proceedings, but he had not put forth any other “innocent or satisfactory explanation” other than saying it was an accident.

It considered 41 testimonials in support of Dr Singh from colleagues but Paul Williams, representing the General Medical Council, submitted that Dr Singh’s actions “amounted to serious misconduct”.

He said Dr Singh’s behaviour “fell far below the standard expected of medical practitioners and which would, in the criminal sphere, amount to a sexual assault".

He said that although the incident was short, it was "incredibly serious."

Dr Singh said he wished that the incident had never happened, the report said, and that he “fully appreciated the gravity of the issue".

He reminded the tribunal that he had apologised to his colleague a number of times.

He had, he said, worked throughout the Covid pandemic for 13 months after it and that there was no repetition in that time. Dr Singh also said he had no previous fitness to practice history.

But the tribunal determined that Dr Singh’s actions towards his colleague were “disrespectful” and he “humiliated her in front of her colleagues".

The tribunal decided to suspend him for 12 months.

In its view this would “be sufficient to promote and maintain public confidence and to send out a clear message to the profession that this type of conduct is unacceptable.”