Page last updated at 20:04 GMT, Wednesday, 24 February 2010

'Cure gays' psychiatrist reported to GMC

By Tara Mills
BBC Newsline

Dr Paul Miller's website
Dr Paul Miller's website offers a range of services

A psychiatrist and former adviser to Iris Robinson who claimed he could convert gay people to heterosexuality has been reported to the General Medical Council (GMC).

Dr Paul Miller worked for Mrs Robinson when she was chair of the Health Committee at Stormont.

A journalist who went undercover and received his therapy has now complained to the GMC.

Dr Miller has a private practice in south Belfast.

He trained at Queen's University and has worked in the past at the Mater and Craigavon hospitals.

When Iris Robinson made her controversial comments about homosexuality in June 2008 he was working as her adviser at Stormont.

Speaking on Radio Ulster, Mrs Robinson said: "I have a very lovely psychiatrist who works with me in my offices and his Christian background is that he tries to help homosexuals trying to turn away from what they are engaged in."

On Dr Miller's website there is a range of services on offer - from helping children and families to dealing with trauma. But there is no mention of the gay conversion therapy.

Patrick Strudwick
Patrick Strudwick said the therapy sessions were disturbing

London-based journalist Patrick Strudwick is gay and wanted to investigate exactly what the conversion therapy involved.

He posed as a patient and had two sessions of therapy via a webcam from London to Dr Miller in Belfast.

"It was very disturbing because I was acutely aware during the sessions of the effect this would be having on a vulnerable young person had I been genuinely seeking treatment," he said.

Mr Strudwick wrote about his experience in the Independent newspaper. He said Dr Miller told him that he had been wounded as a child which was why he was gay.

Dr Miller suggested some unusual ways to deal with his feelings towards other men and he also spoke openly and explicitly about his own sexuality - something Mr Strudwick felt was totally inappropriate.

"I felt disgusted and abused by his inappropriate sexual remarks during the sessions. To hear this from a psychiatrist during a session, it was like being sexually assaulted," he said.

We put a series of questions to Dr Miller but he declined to comment.

In a short statement he said: "I am currently responding to a complaint made to the GMC and it would therefore be inappropriate to comment at this time."

Iris Robinson
Dr Miller is a former adviser to Iris Robinson

In America some psychiatrists have had their licences withdrawn for carrying out this therapy.

We asked the Royal College of Psychiatrists for their view. They said "homosexuality is not a psychiatric disorder" and people have "the right to protection from therapies that are potentially damaging".

Patrick Strudwick wants the medical governing body, the GMC, to take action against Dr Miller.

"I'm actually the first person in British history to try and get a doctor struck off for treating homosexuality," he said.

"If Dr Miller is struck off, which I hope he is, this is a test case and will serve as a warning to other psychiatrists and mental health professionals attempting to do this."

It is understood the GMC will discuss Dr Miller's case at the beginning of next month.

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