Doctor Barry wants to confront accusers in public

A DOCTOR accused of indecently assaulting dozens of his female patients has demanded that the Medical Council allow him confront his accusers in public.

Cork GP Dr James Barry is due to put his case before a Fitness to Practice hearing to be held on Monday next.

Criminal charges that he sexually or indecently assaulted more than 30 women were dropped last March after a European Court ruling that delays in prosecuting him had violated his human rights.

However, Dr Barry is still suspended from practising and the Medical Council is to restart its inquiry into his conduct on Monday after suspending it while criminal proceedings were ongoing.

Dr Barry has protested against a request by a key witness to give evidence via video, according to the Irish Medical Times.

In a letter to the council’s solicitors, Dr Barry states: “I object most strongly to any evidence being given by video-link ... I also wish to say that in the case of the complaint of [the witness] it is of special importance that she give her evidence in the presence of the committee.”

Dr Barry, now in his 80s, was first arrested in 1997 on more than 200 counts of indecent or sexual assault. He was charged with assaulting female patients at his surgery in Sidney Place, Wellington Road, Cork.

Dr Barry claims the intimate medical examinations he conducted on the women involved were associated with acne therapy and were “clinically appropriate”.

Last March, the Government decided not to appeal a 2005 ruling by the European Court of Human Rights which found that delays by Irish authorities in prosecuting Dr Barry had violated his human rights. The decision ended criminal proceedings against him.

Legal experts have also warned that the failure of the State to successfully criminally prosecute Dr Barry has weakened the dozens of civil cases being taken by former patients.

Around 70-100 civil cases against him have commenced and a number of these were already settled for minor amounts. Solicitors estimate that a further 30-50 women had been awaiting a criminal prosecution before mounting civil proceedings.

According to Dr Barry, the State’s decision not to appeal the European Court ruling has “totally exonerated” him of the criminal accusations. He accepts he videotaped women without their knowledge, but says this was only as part of research towards a PhD.

Dr Barry, of Lauriston Lodge, Glanmire, Co Cork, said he was treating acne vulgaris in women using a male hormone combined with ultraviolet light and, as part of this therapy, it was necessary to perform vaginal examinations.

However, Dr Barry is angry at the refusal of the Medical Defence Union to indemnify him against legal costs associated with the civil suits. Dr Barry, who said he paid fees to the MDU for 34 years, now owes the indemnifier about €600,000 in legal costs.

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