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Last Updated: Monday, 1 September, 2003, 14:09 GMT 15:09 UK
Psychiatrist 'may have misled girl'
Princess Margaret Hospital
Dr Eastgate is a consultant in Swindon
A child psychiatrist may have prompted a 13-year-old patient to wrongly believe she was sexually abused, the General Medical Council (GMC) has heard.

Dr John Eastgate, a consultant at Princess Margaret Hospital, Swindon, - who is facing serious charges of professional misconduct - allegedly prompted the girl with "leading questions".

In 1996, the girl - referred to as Miss A - then claimed she had been indecently assaulted by a medical professor and later went on to make similar allegations against three other people, including her father.

Dr Eastgate, of Baynards Ash Farm, Swindon, is accused of making inappropriate and unprofessional comments relating to Professor X, a bones specialist who was accused of indecently assaulting Miss A.

It is alleged that Dr Eastgate told Miss A he was concerned Professor X "may have done it to other children as well".

He is also accused of contacting the police and social services about the girl's allegations without taking steps to check whether they were true and sharing his concerns with her parents.

Dr Eastgate also allegedly failed to keep a word-for-word account of his interviews with Miss A on seven occasions after the allegations were initially made.

'Adolescent difficulties'

Joanne Glynn QC, for the GMC, told the professional conduct committee in London that Miss A was "a very bright, angry and, at the time, resentful 13-year-old girl who was undergoing a number of adolescent difficulties."

"It is very dangerous when faced with a child saying something that is equivocal in meaning to start from the premise that sexual abuse did occur," she said.

She went on to suggest the danger could be compounded by a child psychiatrist offering a view of what he thought had happened.

"Those dangers are that the doctor, by doing this, is likely to lead the child to a perception that she is indeed an abused child, which is likely or almost certain to have a huge impact on the child's psychological functioning."

Ms Glynn said the young girl made further accusations of abuse against three others - including her father and a long time employee on the family estate - and said those allegations had "pulled the family asunder for years."

The hearing continues.

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