Cosmetic surgeon to the stars, 44, nicknamed the Skin Queen who hired private detectives to spy on a fellow doctor and bug 200 consultations with his patients is struck off
- Dr Natalie Blakely hired private detectives to record confidential conversations
- The cosmetic surgeon made tapes between Dr Peter Forrester and his clients
- Listening devices had been placed in his room before detectives eavesdropped
- Her practice, Light Touch clinic in Weybridge, Surrey, had famous clients
Dr Natalie Blakely, 44, secretly recorded confidential conversations between patients and a male doctor after she fell out with him over their business dealings
A cosmetic surgeon nicknamed ‘The Skin Queen’ has been banned from practising medicine after she bugged the medical consultations of 200 patients during a plot to oust a fellow doctor from her beauty clinic.
Dr Natalie Blakely, 44, hired private detectives to secretly record confidential conversations between Dr Peter Forrester and his clients after the pair fell out over the alleged under-pricing of cosmetic surgery procedures.
The tapes were discovered after former Harley Street surgeon Dr Forester, 65, quit his post when he was confronted by the investigators with a spreadsheet outlining various accounting discrepancies at the surgery.
He subsequently learnt listening devices had been placed in his room before detectives eavesdropped on his discussions with patients over a two month period at the acclaimed Light Touch clinic in Weybridge, Surrey where clients have included former Eastenders actresses Martine McCutcheon and Charlie Brooks.
Initially Dr Forrester himself complained to the General Medical Council before he informed various patients about the existence of the secret tapes and they made a string of complaints to the clinic and the Information Commissioners Office.
Pictured: Dr Blakely at her Light Touch clinic in Weybridge, Surrey
In response Dr Blakely claimed the tapes formed part of an ‘investigation’ sanctioned by a senior lawyer, the General Medical Council and The Care Quality Commission.
She told one distressed client: ‘I am sure you find this difficult but discussions were put in place and there was no compromise of patient confidentiality. Advice was sought on how to proceed with an investigation from all the relevant authorities.’
But it emerged she had received no ‘advice’ from the organisation from GMC or CQC after officials told her they had no polices on covert recordings. Police were alerted to the scandal but the dispute was dealt with following an out-of-court settlement.
At the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service, Blakeley who was once voted ‘Best Doctor for Botox and Fillers’ by Tatler magazine was suspended practising medicine for six months for breaching patient confidentiality and ‘dishonest and misleading’ conduct.
The clinic’s clients have included former Eastenders actresses Martine McCutcheon (left) and Charlie Brooks (right)
She claimed she had been acting on the advice of the private detectives after facing ‘the ruination of her business’ due to her working relationship with Dr Forrester. She claimed her former colleague had been ‘defrauding the business.’
But she was found guilty of misconduct after Dr Forrester who ‘vigorously’ denied wrongdoing and four unnamed patients gave evidence against her at the Manchester hearing. The ICO which investigates breaches of data protection is taking no action over the scandal.
In making its determination MPTS tribunal chairman David Robinson said it was making no finding about the dispute between the two doctors.
But he added: ‘Covert recordings should be carried out by the police in most circumstances, and that such recordings should only be undertaken where there is no other way of obtaining information, and in circumstances involving a serious crime or to prevent harm to someone – for example potential harm to a child.
‘Patients must be able to trust that their right to confidentiality is paramount, and that any actions which may place that confidentiality in doubt are approached with utmost caution.
‘The Tribunal noted Dr Blakely’s assertion that she had been naive with regard to the legal side of making the recordings. However any naivety should not have led to her choice of using untrue wording when referring to the GMC and CQC.
‘Against the background of the difficult position in which she found herself with regard to her dispute with Dr Forrester and having received complaints from patients, Dr Blakely knowingly used untrue statements to pacify those patients and to defend her actions in the making of the covert recordings.
‘Using such untrue information to respond to the queries of patients who were expressing concerns as to whether or not their consultations had been covertly recorded and their confidentiality compromised, would be considered dishonest by the objective standards of ordinary decent people.
”A period away from medical practice will provide Dr Blakely with sufficient time and opportunity to properly reflect on, and gain insight into, her dishonesty, such that she will not repeat it. Members of the public would be shocked and concerned at such dishonesty in communication with patients.’
Dr Blakely, who was once voted ‘Best Doctor for Botox and Fillers’ by Tatler magazine, faced being struck off after being accused of breaching patient confidentiality. Pictured: A view of the clinic in Surrey
The anti-ageing clinic which was founded by Blakely and her lawyer sister Katie in 2009 claims to specialise in non-invasive procedures and other treatments including facials, threading and therapeutic massages. In 2015 a local actress suffering from acne underwent treatment and went onto to appear in several films including the BAFTA award-winning motor racing movie Rush starring Chris Hemsworth.
But trouble began in October 2015 after Dr Forrester a consultant anaesthatist joined the board of the clinic as a co-director alongside Blakely and her businessman husband Michael, 54.
The hearing was told there were discussions between Dr Forester and Blakely about pricing and discounting for patients of his former practise but the negotiations led to a bitter dispute between the pair. She subsequently hired investigators from Foster Guthrie Associations Corporate Intelligence Services to record Dr Forrester’s consultations between January and March 2016.
Dr Forrester resigned from the surgery on March 2016 after he was presented with the spreadsheet and the GMC were alerted to the covert recordings the following May. Civil action was taken by both doctors but a settlement was reached in March 2017.
The anti-ageing clinic which was founded by Blakely and her lawyer sister Katie in 2009 was said to specialise in non-invasive procedures and other treatments including facials, threading and therapeutic massages
Lawyer for GMC Gavin McBride said: ‘The purpose of the recording and Dr Blakely’s overwhelming aim was the removal of Dr Forrester from the clinic. A blinkered focus on this aim led to Dr Blakely ignoring the confidentiality of patients.
‘There was no discussions about these covert recordings between him and the clinic patients. Around 200 patients were in these recordings – made without their knowledge or consent.
‘They had the belief they would be heard in privacy as they would be discussing private matters such as their health records. They had no knowledge of how or when the recordings had started what was included in them and who had access to these recordings.
‘Dr Forrester had been involved in a business dispute with Dr Blakely and the dispute was over an allegation of underfunding and undercharging by him which had led the company to a financial deficit. Matters were acrimonious. There had been a complaint to the police regarding this but they had not proceeded with prosecution, yet there was a civil claim.’
Blakely claimed she did not approach the police about making covert recordings as she said detectives had failed to ‘adequately investigate’ a £500,000 raid at her clinic in which medical equipment and stock was stolen.
She said: ‘I am incredibly proud to be a doctor and take my professional responsibilities extremely seriously.
‘I have tried to do the right thing every step of the way – the right thing for patients, my employees and also for my family who are directly affected by threats to my livelihood.
‘Despite what’s been said, patient confidentiality has been respected and private information has never been shared or exposed. I’ve always sought and followed the best available professional advice and have acted in good faith every step of the way.
‘This whole episode has been horrible and I’m desperately keen to get back to doing what I love: being a doctor, caring for my patients, running my business.
‘I wish to take this opportunity to say thank you to my friends, family and everyone who has supported me along the way.’
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