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Decision to Charge

Once the Police have completed their investigations, they will refer the case to the Crown Prosecution Service for advice on how to proceed. We will then make a decision on whether a suspect should be charged, and what that charge should be.

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CPS advises no prosecution against former doctor Richard Neale

13/04/2007

The Crown Prosecution Service has advised North Yorkshire Police that there is insufficient evidence to prosecute former doctor Richard Neale for any criminal offences following a reinvestigation into a number of allegations against him.

The allegations arose out of his treatment of patients when he worked as a consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist in the North Yorkshire and the Isle of Wight areas.

As part of the reinvestigation police investigated the circumstances surrounding the death of a 47 year old female patient who died following an operation carried out by Richard Neale, and the death of a baby who died two days after he was born when Richard Neale attended as the on-call consultant at the delivery.

Reviewing lawyer in the Special Crime Division, Howard Cohen, said:

"I considered whether the evidence gathered by the police showed that any criminal offence had been committed, taking into account a number of possible offences including; assault, health and safety offences and the offence of gross negligence manslaughter in relation to the two deaths. I also considered the offences of obtaining property by deception and obtaining a pecuniary advantage by deception in relation to allegations that Richard Neale had given false information about his qualifications and his career history to the hospitals where he worked.

"After looking at all the evidence - including that of experts - and seeking the advice of counsel, I have decided that there is insufficient evidence to provide for a realistic prospect of conviction to prosecute him for any criminal offence.

"In a case such as this there are a number of areas of law which need to be considered. A particularly relevant issue when there are allegations of assault against a medical practitioner is whether the doctor or nurse involved believed that consent had been given for the medical procedures they carried out. After considering all of the evidence, I have concluded that Richard Neale honestly believed that he had the patients' full consent to carry out the operations.

"I have considered whether Richard Neale should be charged with manslaughter by way of gross negligence following the deaths of the two patients and have considered a number of medical reports from experts regarding their deaths. I have concluded that the prosecution would not be able to prove that Mr Neale breached his duty of care towards either of them."

"I have given detailed ongoing advice to the police during the course of their investigations since 2004 and received a final report from them in October 2006."

Mr Cohen has written to the patients and families involved to explain his decision in detail and has offered to meet them to discuss how he reached that decision.

  1. The Crown Prosecution Service advised North Yorkshire Police in September 2001 that there was insufficient evidence to prosecute Richard Neale following a number of complaints involving him.
  2. In July 2004 North Yorkshire Police began a further enquiry into complaints against Richard Neale. The Crown Prosecution Service has now completed its review of the evidence from this enquiry.
  3. To succeed in a prosecution for gross negligence manslaughter, all the circumstances have to be taken into account and the prosecution has to prove:
  4.  

    • There was a duty of care owed by the accused to the deceased;
    • There was a breach of the duty of care by the accused;
    • The breach was a substantial cause of the death of the deceased;
    • The breach was so great as to be characterised as gross negligence and therefore a crime.
  5. Media enquiries to CPS Press Office on 020 7710 6091.