Leeds doc­tors ‘may ap­peal’

The Jewish Chronicle - - HOME NEWS -

TWO LEEDS doc­tors who were given a for­mal warn­ing by the Gen­eral Med­i­cal Coun­cil over writ­ten com­ments they made about a lo­cal rabbi in 2004 have told the JC they may ap­peal against the ver­dict.

Con­sul­tant clin­i­cal pathol­o­gist Dr Ju­lian Barth and his wife, Dr Claire Samuel, a Leeds GP, were given the warn­ing by the GMC’s in­ves­ti­ga­tion com­mit­tee just be­fore the pub­lic hol­i­days for us­ing in­ap­pro­pri­ate med­i­cal ter­mi­nol­ogy in a let­ter in which they claimed that Rabbi Daniel Levy, se­nior min­is­ter at the United He­brew Con­gre­ga­tion (UHC), suf­fered from a per­son­al­ity dis­or­der. Un­less it is re­scinded, the warn­ing re­mains on their records for five years.

Dr Barth, an ex­ec­u­tive mem­ber of the UHC, and Dr Samuel, who taught the syn­a­gogue’s post-bat­mitz­vah class, claim that, soon af­ter Rabbi Levy’s ap­point­ment to UHC in 2001, they ob­served what they say was trou­bling be­hav­iour by Rabbi Levy, cul­mi­nat­ing in what they claim was “in­ap­pro­pri­ate con­duct” to­wards an­other rabbi in De­cem­ber 2003. A sub­se­quent in­for­mal con­ver­sa­tion with a se­nior clin­i­cal psy­chol­o­gist led both doc­tors to con­clude that Rabbi Levy suf­fered “Per­son­al­ity Dis­or­der DSM 1V”.

The let­ter stat­ing this con­clu­sion was writ­ten in 2004 by Dr Barth and Dr Samuel, and was de­liv­ered to Ge­of­frey Skol­nick, then pres­i­dent of the UHC.

Af­ter be­ing made aware of the let­ter, Rabbi Levy’s le­gal ad­vis­ers gave the doc­tors two weeks to re­tract their state­ment. Af­ter they failed to do so, Rabbi Levy com­plained to the GMC on April 18 2005. He con­sid­ered the let­ter in­ac­cu­rate and was un­happy that a di­ag­no­sis on his health had been made with­out ref­er­ence to him or his med­i­cal his­tory.

UHC pres­i­dent Jonathan Rose de­clined to com­ment on the pro­ceed­ings. He told the JC: “I un­der­stand that there may be a le­gal chal­lenge to the GMC’s de­ci­sion. In those cir­cum­stances it would be in­ap­pro­pri­ate for me as pres­i­dent of the UHC to com­ment on the GMC pro­ceed­ings or their out­come.”

Dr Barth told the JC: “Ad­vis­ers are ex­plor­ing all avail­able op­tions. In­ves­ti­ga­tions into var­i­ous as­pects of the case con­tinue.”

The Leeds Jewish com­mu­nity seems to be split be­tween sym­pa­thy for the doc­tors and sym­pa­thy for Rabbi Levy, who is cur­rently on a sab­bat­i­cal from the syn­a­gogue. He has spent time in Is­rael study­ing, and is now back in the UK, lec­tur­ing and writ­ing.

One UHC mem­ber, who asked not to be named, said: “I fully re­spect Rabbi Levy. He has done a lot of good in the com­mu­nity. While ap­pre­ci­at­ing that the doc­tors’ con­cerns were gen­uine, I agree with the GMC that they should not have ex­pressed a med­i­cal opin­ion with­out an ex­am­i­na­tion.”

An­other UHC mem­ber told the JC: “The whole sit­u­a­tion is very sad, but I am glad the Barths have, un­in­ten­tion­ally, brought the mat­ter about the rabbi into the pub­lic do­main. It needed say­ing. Nev­er­the­less, I feel great sym­pa­thy for Rabbi Levy.”

A for­mer mem­ber of the UHC who spoke to the JC but wished not to be named said: “Rabbi Levy is a the­o­log­i­cal in­tel­lec­tual and thor­oughly versed in ha­lachic mat­ters. What he says and does comes firmly from the teach­ings of the To­rah. Of­ten this does not go down well with some mem­bers of the Leeds com­mu­nity who see his be­hav­iour as ex­treme.”

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