Last updated at 11:27 AM on 10th August 2011
A perverted GP who abused his position to sexually assault five patients while pretending to carry out medical examinations has been jailed for seven years.
Dr Haleem Bhatti targeted his victims when they consulted him for rashes, chest pain and weight gain, taking the opportunity to violate their most private areas.
The 48-year-old groped his victims’ breasts and even put his hand between their thighs, while asking needless and inappropriate questions about their sex lives.
Bhatti was found guilty of molesting the women while he worked as a family doctor at the Greengate Medical Centre in Plaistow, east London, between September 2006 and July 2009.
Judge Simon Davis said the shamed medic – who qualified in Pakistan – had ‘deliberately fabricated’ his patients’ medical notes to disguise his ‘dreadful’ illegal behaviour.
Bhatti had ‘abused his position as a GP’ to take advantage of the women ‘under the guise of performing medical examinations’, said Sarah Jane Campbell, prosecuting.
The doctor left them feeling ‘very uncomfortable, upset and stupid’ for not stopping him as soon as they suspected he was acting inappropriately.
‘He was acting opportunistically,’ said Ms Campbell.
‘There were examinations of the breast or touching of the vagina, in circumstances where there could have been no medical justification for Dr Bhatti to do so.
‘On none of the occasions did he ask the women if they wished to have a chaperone.
‘Invariably he did not wear gloves when touching their vaginas, which is against the guidance of the General Medical Council.’
Bhatti’s first victim, in September 2006, was so stunned that she pushed his hand away.
The prosecutor said: ‘She started to get uncomfortable because she could not understand why he was examining her breast as she was not having trouble in that location.
‘His other hand had moved down towards her pelvic area and his fingers were trying to part her vaginal lips.
‘Her hand shot down and stopped him touching her.’ The woman complained to her mother after leaving the surgery, who made a complaint to another GP there.
But ‘nothing formal’ resulted from the complaint, leaving Bhatti free to abuse more women.
Another woman reported Bhatti examining her breasts when she complained of a rash on her belly, arms and legs.
She was ‘very upset’, but did not make an official complaint until months later when she told a receptionist why she would be uncomfortable about him treating her niece.
A third woman complained to another GP at the practice in late 2009, after Bhatti gave her a similar examination and also of her abdomen.
Jurors heard the doctor also commented on some concealed African beads she wore around her waist during an appointment in May of that year, asking her ‘if they were for sexual attraction’.
In July 2009 Bhatti asked another patient with a urine infection to undo her jeans and lie back.
She mentioned her chest sometimes felt tight and he went on to show her ‘how to self-examine’ her breasts, jurors heard.
After speaking to members of her family about the incident she phoned the practice nurse the next day and filed a formal complaint.
During police interview Bhatti denied acting inappropriately with any of his patients and claimed one was upset with him because he had not referred her to a specialist.
Four character witnesses, made up of three doctors and Bhatti’s partner, gave glowing live testimonials as to Bhatti’s respectful nature, fairness to women, and the years he has dedicated to human rights work.
His girlfriend of 12 years, who gave her name only as Miss Kaye, said she was standing by him and added: ‘I love him very much.
‘I don’t know how I’m going to get through the next few months I really don’t.’ The court heard he would not be able to pay any costs as he has no money.
He is now likely to be struck off by the GMC.
As he sentenced Bhatti to seven years in jail, Judge Davis told Bhatti: ‘You are a man who should have known better.
‘There was no need for you to conduct the examination to the extent that you did for the reasons that you did and I find your motive was sexual gratification.
‘You have not come to terms with that in the pre-sentence report.
‘It is quite clear that you still profess your innocence.
‘You will have to take time to consider whether that’s a sensible approach into the future.’ The GP will have to sign indefinitely as a sex offender.
He showed no reaction as he heard his fate, and his partner simply sat shocked in the public gallery with her eyes closed as a friend tried to comfort her.