RCVS suspends vet for ‘fabricating emails’ relating to horse insemination

The disciplinary committee of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) has decided to suspend an overseas-based veterinary surgeon for a period of 12 months.

The hearing for James Hugh Alexander Crawford took place on 29 August and 30 August and concerned a fabricated email, which Crawford claimed was from a veterinary officer at the Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency (AHVLA).

Crawford sent the email to his client on 15 July 2014, the day on which the client’s horse was due for insemination using horse semen supplied from a horse in Germany. However, the semen had arrived without the Intra Trade Certificate, a requirement for intra-EU inseminations, and so Crawford contacted the Defra for alternative authorisation.

Just after 4:30pm on that day the client received a text from Crawford advising her that he had received authorisation from the AHVLA, and would forward it to the client. It later transpired that that the email had in fact been fabricated by Crawford using an email that he had previously received from the AHVLA regarding another matter.

Crawford faced charges of “fabricating an email authorising use of semen from a horse for insemination, when in fact he had not received such authorisation”, “dishonesty in relation to the email described above”, and that “his conduct gave rise to spread of infectious disease”.

The vet admitted the first two charges, but denied that his actions had given rise to the risk of disease.

The committee found the first two charges proved, and moved on to determine the facts of the third charge, where they found the client’s mare could have been infected and subsequently could have adversely affected equine animal health and welfare in the region.

It was also found that his entire course of action had fallen far short of what is expected of a veterinary surgeon, and that it amounted to “disgraceful conduct in a professional respect”.
The committee therefore decided to order the registrar to suspend Crawford’s registration for 12 months.

Committee chair, Ian Green said: “The committee did consider whether to remove Dr Crawford from the register. However, in light of the significant mitigation in this case, the fact that this was an isolated incident in an otherwise unblemished career, together with his acceptance from the outset that he had been dishonest and his assurance that he would never behave in this way again, the committee decided that in all the circumstances to remove him from the register would be disproportionate.”

Crawford can lodge an appeal with the Privy Council within 28 days of being notified of the disciplinary committee’s decision.

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