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The BBC's Niall Dickson
"It has been another bleak day for Dick van Velzen"
 real 56k

Arnold Versteeg, lawyer for Professor van Velzen
"Professor van Velzen takes responsibility for his actions and is accountable therefore"
 real 28k

Michael Redfern QC
"Organs were systematically stripped"
 real 28k

Friday, 2 February, 2001, 17:47 GMT
Organ scandal doctor suspended
Professor Dick van Velzen
Professor van Velzen has been barred from working in the UK
The pathologist at the centre of the Alder Hey Children's Hospital organ scandal has been barred from working in the UK.

At an emergency session on Friday, the General Medical Council decided to suspend Professor Dick van Velzen from the medical register.

His lawyer Mr Arnold Versteeg said Professor van Velzen still felt he had done nothing wrong.

He said the pathologist had not been able to check a copy of the Redfern report into events at Alder Hey, as had been promised, and that he had not received the invitation from the GMC until the day before the hearing.

We welcome his suspension

Ed Bradley, Alder Hey parent's support group
Mr Versteeg said: "Professor van Velzen takes responsibility for his actions and is accountable therefore.

"He is convinced that in a proper procedure it will be established that he acted in a medically correct fashion.

"I might add that research by a pathologist contributes significantly to the knowledge of human diseases and the way in which they can be treated.

"At the present time my client and I are considering what steps to take against the decision of the GMC.

'Never work in UK again'

The GMC's professional conduct committee will now begin an investigation into Professor van Velzen's work. If found guilty of serious professional misconduct he could be permanently erased from the medical register.

Professor van Velzen was strongly criticised in the official inquiry into the retention of thousands of children's body parts at the Merseyside hospital.

The report recommended that he should never work in the UK again.

His case is being investigated by the police at the instruction of Health Secretary Alan Milburn.

Professor van Velzen has gone into hiding since the report was published on Tuesday.

He did not attend the three hour GMC hearing.

Professor van Velzen
Professor van Velzen had a huge stockpile of children's organs
The GMC made use of new powers granted only last year which allow a doctor to be suspended from the medical register and effectively banned from practising while investigations are carried out.

Previously, doctors suspected of misconduct could be suspended from the register only after the GMC had found him or her guilty of serious professional misconduct.

The Alder Hey report accused Professor van Velzen of systematically, unethically and illegally stripping organs from the bodies of thousands of children who died at the Alder Hey Hospital in Liverpool during his seven-year career there.

Many parents were unaware they had buried their children without their hearts, lungs, brains and other organs until the scandal broke, forcing them to conduct second, third and even fourth funerals.

Professor van Velzen built up a collection of thousands of organs which were not used for research or teaching purposes but were simply stored in a basement.

The independent inquiry by Michael Redfern QC found that the professor had lied when applying for the job as senior pathologist at Alder Hey, had falsified records and post-mortem examination reports and deceived bosses.

Parents' response

Ed Bradley
Ed Bradley wants the pathologist struck off
Ed Bradley, acting chair of the Alder Hey families' support group Pity II, said he welcomed the suspension but said he would have preferred the decision to be more final.

He said: "I expected him to be struck off and I am surprised that he has only been suspended.

"This gives him a chance to appeal and there is always that danger that he will win an appeal.

"Then there is the possibility that even if he is struck off he can apply in the future to be reinstated.

"But we welcome his suspension - it will hold for now, pending of course the possibility of a prosecution."

Mr Bradley added that he wanted to see more people named in the Alder Hey report face disciplinary proceedings.

He added: "We still maintain that van Velzen was made something of a scapegoat in the Redfern report."

Professor van Velzen is facing a trial in Canada over charges of illegally possessing children's and animals' organs.

He has also been sacked from the Dutch hospital where he was working in the wake of the Alder Hey report.

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02 Feb 01 | Health
Transplants hit by organ scandal
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