'Paedophile hunter' catches children's doctor at Kent hospital

WATCH: Special report on how an online activist brought a Kent doctor to justice

Video of the moment a children’s doctor was caught by a so-called paedophile hunter on the grounds of a hospital has been obtained by ITV News. 

The mobile phone footage shows Salman Siddiqi speaking to the activist, who had been posing as a 14-year-old boy online, and agreed to meet the paediatrician at his accommodation at the Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother Hospital (QEQM) in Margate.

The interaction was recorded by ‘Mark’, a man in his 50s who works in his own time to catch online predators. His name has been changed to protect his identity.

Kent Police said it investigates evidence provided by such online child protection activists but advised the public against such behaviour, due to the risks involved. 

East Kent Hospitals Trust said it had "taken steps" to ensure that such an incident "cannot happen again".

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After being confronted by ‘Mark’ at 3am on 8 January 2023, the locum doctor fled on foot into the hospital before being arrested by police. 

Explaining the motivation for his work, ‘Mark’ told ITV News: “I was abused as a child. So, this sort of gives me that justice that I can actually bring perpetrators to the attention of the law and get justice that way.” 

The number of officers working in Kent Police’s Paedophile Online Investigation Team (POLIT) has increased by 20 per cent over recent months, in response to an increase in online offending.

It means 50 police officers are now based in the unit at police headquarters in Maidstone. 

Detective Chief Inspector Shaun Creed, who heads the team, told ITV News Meridian: “While there have been examples where some very harmful people have been identified [by online activists], generally, we would encourage people not to do this kind of work. 

“It’s a very complicated area of law. In addition, there can be certain areas of risk in confronting people. We would rather that anybody brings information to us directly rather than act on it themselves.”

WATCH: DCI Shaun Creed heads Kent's Paedophile Online Investigation Team (POLIT)

Siddiqi, from East London, was sentenced in June 2023 to two years and four months imprisonment after pleading guilty to engaging in sexual communication with a child and attempting to arrange or facilitate the commission of a child sex offence.

Scotland Yard launched an internal review of its officers’ decision not to disclose details of the earlier exposure incident, following an ITV News investigation

East Kent Hospitals Chief Medical Officer, Des Holden, said: “Following the incident, we immediately excluded Dr Saddiqi and reported him 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. We have taken steps to ensure that it cannot happen again.”

Siddiqi was struck off as a doctor last month, following a medical practitioners tribunal.

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