Police review ‘failure to stop’ paedophile doctor from reoffending

Watch: ITV News Meridian's Kit Bradshaw reports on the 'missed opportunities' to stop criminal doctor

Scotland Yard has launched a review into allegations its officers failed to deal appropriately with a man caught flashing in a London park, three years before he was jailed for attempting to meet a child for sex. 

Dr Salman Siddiqi, a consultant paediatrician from Hornchurch, was first taken into custody after exposing himself to women at a nature reserve in June 2019. 

Despite one of the victims telling police she was prepared to go to court, officers opted to give him a police caution. It has since emerged they also failed to inform the NHS or General Medical Council, which regulates doctors' fitness to practice. 

Susan Clapp – one of the women Siddiqi flashed in Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park – told ITV News: “I thought he would go to court and he’d be dealt with. But they just gave him a caution, and let him off, and told him not to do it again.

“It got brushed under the carpet, by the police, with just a caution. He was left with his own devices to just do what he wanted too.

“It’s disgusting. That wouldn't have happened if the police would have taken action from the very beginning.”

  • Dr Salman Siddiqi says he is 'very sorry' during a citizen's arrest after exposing himself in a park

(Video credit: Susan Clapp)

On 8 January this year, Siddiqi attempted to meet someone he thought was a 14-year-old boy for sex in the grounds of a hospital in Kent where he was working at the time. 

The person he had been speaking to online was in fact a so-called ‘paedophile hunter’, who detained him at the Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother Hospital until police arrived. 

44-year-old Siddiqi was arrested and later pleaded guilty at court to charges of engaging in sexual communication with a child and attempting to arrange or facilitate the commission of a child sex offence.

He was sentenced at Canterbury Crown Court last month to two years and four months imprisonment. 

Susan Clapp says she is “shocked” that he was allowed to reoffend and feels she “never really got justice” for what happened to her. 

Susan has waived her right to anonymity to speak about what happened in the hope that someone in authority will be “held to account” for failing to stop Siddiqi sooner. 

  • Susan Clapp was one of the women Siddiqi flashed in Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park

The Met Police have confirmed that they could have informed Siddiqi’s employer and regulatory body of his caution for flashing in 2019, if officers deemed there was a “pressing social need” for the purposes of “safeguarding” an individual, group or society at large.

A spokesperson admitted that “in this instance disclosure was not made and having been made aware of this, we are reviewing the circumstances around this decision”.

Siddiqi is understood to have been working as a children’s doctor at hospitals in London at the time of the flashing offence in June 2019.

It has since emerged he did not inform the General Medical Council of his police caution, as he was obliged to do. Neither did the police, despite them possessing the power to do so. 

The GMC only became aware in March 2021, when Siddiqi self-referred after inadvertently discussing the matter with a senior colleague. 

Prior to this, in January 2021, Siddiqi started conducting locum shifts at the Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother Hospital (QEQM) in Margate, Kent. He got this job through the private recruitment agency ProMedical.

It is not known if ProMedical or the East Kent Hospitals Trust, which runs the QEQM, carried out a detailed criminal record check on Siddiqi, known as an Enhanced DBS. If they did, his police caution should have shown up.

East Kent Hospitals has admitted there were “missed opportunities” to identify Siddiqi’s previous caution and say they have “taken steps to ensure that it cannot happen again”.

In January 2023, Siddiqi attempted to meet someone he thought was a 14-year-old boy for sex. Credit: Facebook

In July 2022, Siddiqi finally faced a Medical Practitioners Tribunal over his exposure, and failure to inform the GMC of his police caution. The tribunal imposed a one-month suspension from practising as a doctor. 

Following his suspension by the GMC, East Kent Hospitals allowed Siddiqi to return to work at the QEQM. ProMedical also continued to allow him to work as one of their agency doctors. 

Five months later, Siddiqi was caught in the grounds of a Margate hospital trying to meet someone he thought to be a 14-year-old boy for sex. 

After being made aware of this timeline of events by ITV News, the various public and private agencies involved have sent us written statements. 

  • Former Scotland Yard detective Peter Bleksley says Siddiqi should have been charged for exposure

The Metropolitan Police has confirmed it has launched an internal review. 

A Scotland Yard spokesperson told us: “Common Law Police Disclosure ensures that where there is a public protection risk, the police will pass information to the employer or regulatory body to allow them to act swiftly to mitigate any risk. 

“As per National Police Chiefs’ Council guidance, the general presumption is that the police should maintain the confidentiality of personal information. The police do however possess a common law power to share personal sensitive information with third parties where a ‘pressing social need’ can be established. A pressing social need might be the safeguarding, or protection from harm, of an individual, a group of individuals, or society at large.

“The decision on ‘pressing social need’ is based on the officer investigating the case’s assessment of the risk and vulnerability of the individual case and circumstances. In this instance disclosure was not made and having been made aware of this, we are reviewing the circumstances around this decision.”

East Kent Hospitals Chief Medical Officer, Rebecca Martin, told us: “Following the incident [Siddiqi’s arrest at the QEQM], we immediately reported Dr Siddiqi to the General Medical Council.

“Our review did not identify any patient involvement or failures in our processes that would have directly prevented this criminal offence. There were missed opportunities to identify his previous caution and we have taken steps to ensure that it cannot happen again.”

In response to this case, East Kent Hospitals has also provided additional training and guidance for clinical leads responsible for temporary workers. 

It is understood that this has included standardising DBS checks for temporary workers booked through an agency and escalating all DBS and GMC checks that feature conditions, cautions or warnings for senior review.

Police arrive to caution Siddiqi who flashed people in Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park.

In a statement ProMedical, which is based in Brentwood, described the events of 9 January as “simply horrific”. 

The spokesperson added: “We take pre-employment checks, clinical governance and safeguarding of patients very seriously. As an organisation, we are proud to have served the NHS and the healthcare community for the last 16 years and ensure our pre-employment checks are in line with NHS Employers and our governing frameworks.

 “We are equally proud of all our healthcare workforce community who continue to provide selfless care to those who need it the most, during the most challenging of times. Our full support and cooperation have been made available throughout the process as we work collaboratively with the Trust, GMC, LADO and the Police force to collectively learn and ensure such actions never happen again.”

The General Medical Council said in a statement: “On 23 March 2021, Dr Salman Siddiqi made a self-referral notifying the GMC he had accepted a caution from the Metropolitan Police Service for intentionally exposing his genitals at Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park on 1 June 2019. 

“The GMC investigated the incident and in October 2021 made the decision to refer Dr Siddiqi to the MPTS for a medical tribunal to independently assess the evidence. The hearing took place in July 2022, when the tribunal concluded Dr Siddiqi’s fitness to practise was impaired by reason of misconduct and caution. The tribunal imposed a one-month suspension. 

“As soon as we were made aware of Dr Siddiqi’s arrest in January 2023, the GMC took immediate action. We opened an investigation and referred the doctor to the MPTS to consider whether restrictions were necessary”. 

Dr Siddiqi is currently suspended from practice on an interim basis while the GMC’s investigation continues, following the conclusion of the criminal proceedings.

An NSPCC spokesperson said: “It’s vital agencies work together and appropriately share information to keep children safe from abusers. Safeguarding should be at the centre of all decision making, be it police passing on information to an employer after an incident or a new employer conducting recruitment checks.

“The requirements of the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) need to be met in full by employers and agencies must be able to access information in a timely manner so they can make sound decisions about who has access to children under their care.

“Last year’s report from the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse showed UK systems need to work more effectively together to protect children from abusers by improving data management.

"It is essential that Government act on the recommendations made by IICSA and follow through with changes to prevent sexual abuse of children and young people.”

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