No details from department on stand-off with pathologist

The Department of Justice has refused to provide details on why two hospitals and a city mortuary will not work with one of Ireland’s most senior state pathologists.

An official response to a Freedom of Information request from the Irish Examiner declined to disclose the issues behind the mystery stand-off — which means bodies must be moved from the facilities for autopsies when the official is working.

As previously reported in June, Cork University Hospital (CUH), Our Lady’s Hospital in Navan, and the Dublin City Mortuary have declined to work with Dr Khalid Jabbar, the deputy state pathologist — who was appointed on a near- €200,000 a year contract in 2010 — since late 2010.

The controversy involves a number of unspecified complaints from staff at each of the facilities, with one leaked letter referencing an “unpleasant event”, although Dr Jabbar has insisted he has done nothing wrong.

After the Irish Examiner requested all correspondence and supporting documents relating to the case,the Department of Justice said no information would be released.

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It said this was because the details “involve the disclosure of personal information” and “could reasonably be expected to have a significant, adverse effect on the performance by a public body of its functions relating to industrial relations and the management of its staff”.

A leaked letter obtained earlier this year confirmed that, in Aug 2010, CUH’s mortuary services manager Dan Collins contacted Professor Marie Cassidy, the state pathologist, to tell her his staff would no longer work with Dr Jabbar. He said this was because of an “unpleasant event” that took place in July 2010.

A second, separate complaint was made to management of Our Lady’s Hospital in Navan later that year.

During the same period, the department was also contacted by Carl Lyon, a senior technician at Dublin City morgue, via a letter to Dublin City coroner Brian Farrell.

It read: “I wish to inform you that I am no longer willing to assist Dr Khalid Jabbar, assistant state pathologist, with autopsies from Dublin City mortuary with immediate effect.”

Dr Jabbar subsequently said he had done nothing wrong, and counter complained about other workers’ discipline, professionalism, and attitude.

As a result of the three-year-long dispute, whenever Dr Jabbar is on call an autopsy cannot be performed at any of the three facilities.

Instead, the dead body must be moved to another location to undergo the examination.

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