Fake 'Vet' Removed From RCVS Register

By Royal College Of Veterinary Surgeons, PRNE
Tuesday, February 9, 2010

LONDON, February 10 - The Disciplinary Committee of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons
last week (5 February 2010) directed that the name of a man who had been
illegally practising as a veterinary surgeon in the North West of
England be removed from the RCVS Register, having found him guilty of
fraudulent registration.

In March 2008, Russell Lewis Oakes had been charged with fraudulent
entry onto the Register of Veterinary Surgeons, on the basis that he had
(either (A) knowingly, or (B) unknowingly) submitted a fake degree
certificate and letter of 'good standing' from Murdoch University,
Australia. Mr Oakes agreed that the hearing could proceed in his absence
provided the Committee confined itself to consideration of charge B

The hearing commenced on 18 April 2008, but the Committee decided to
adjourn, as Mr Oakes was also subject to a police investigation which
required that the hearing be held in private. The Committee felt that it
was in the public interest for an open hearing to take place in respect
of both charges at a later date. Mr Oakes' bail conditions prevented him
from practising as a veterinary surgeon at this time.

On 16 October 2009, Mr Oakes was convicted at Liverpool Crown Court, on
a guilty plea, of a substantial number of offences, including those
under consideration by the Committee: he was sentenced on 11 January
to two years in prison.

The RCVS Disciplinary Committee's hearing resumed and concluded on 5
February 2010
. Mr Oakes was not present.

The Committee was provided with evidence from RCVS staff regarding the
registration process, and received statutory declarations from
representatives at Murdoch University. The latter confirmed that
signatures on the certificate submitted by Mr Oakes were fake and that
there had never been a student with his name at the University.
Furthermore, a letter purporting to be one of support from Professor
Edwards of Murdoch University contained text he would not have written
and was signed with a false signature.

The Committee was also provided with evidence from equine veterinary
surgeon Seamus Miller, who had become suspicious of Mr Oakes'
qualifications and membership of the College. He outlined incidents
which had cast doubt on Mr Oakes' competence. Mr Miller's complaint had
initiated enquires which led to the charges against Mr Oakes by the
College, and the Committee recorded its commendation of Mr Miller, and
his colleagues.

Having found that Mr Oakes knowingly submitted fraudulent registration
documents, the Committee was bound, under Sections 14 and 16 of the
Veterinary Surgeons Act 1966, and paragraph 17 of the 2004 Rules, to
direct that his name be removed from the Register.

Alison Bruce, Chairman of the Disciplinary Committee, commented: "Even
if it retained any discretion by virtue of Section 16 of the Act in
respect of sanction, the Committee would have had no hesitation in
directing Mr Oakes' name to be removed from the Register in this case.
This was a deliberate and dishonest offence by a man without the
necessary qualifications to practise as a veterinary surgeon, and it had
the effect of exposing members of the public to his fraud, and their
animals to harm."

The College has revised its registration procedures in the light of
this case, and now requests that all registrants produce original copies of
certificates and letters of 'good standing' at the registration ceremony.


    1. The RCVS is the regulatory body for veterinary surgeons in the
       UK and deals with issues of professional misconduct, maintaining the
       register of veterinary surgeons eligible to practise in the UK and
       assuring standards of veterinary education.

    2. RCVS disciplinary powers are exercised through the Preliminary
       Investigation and Disciplinary Committees, established in accordance
       with Schedule 2 to the Veterinary Surgeons Act 1966 (the 1966 Act).
       The RCVS has authority to deal with three types of case:

         a)	Fraudulent registration
         b)	Criminal convictions
         c)	Allegations of disgraceful professional conduct

    3. The Disciplinary Committee is a constituted judicial tribunal
       under the 1966 Act and follows rules of evidence similar to those
       used in a court of law.

    4. The burden of proving an allegation falls upon the RCVS, and the
       RCVS must prove to the standard that the Committee is sure.

    5. A respondent veterinary surgeon may appeal a Disciplinary
       Committee decision to the Privy Council within 28 days of the date of
       the decision. If no appeal is received, the Committee's judgment
       takes effect after this period.

Further information, including the charges against Mr Oakes and the
Committee's decision, can be found via www.rcvs.org.uk/disciplinary

    For more information please contact:

    Lizzie Lockett, Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons

For more information please contact: Lizzie Lockett, Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons, +44(0)20-7202-0725, l.lockett at rcvs.org.uk

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