GP ‘left woman “frozen” in shock by fondling her leg’

Pictured: Dr Stiann Basson 

A middle-aged MP left a patient in her 20s frozen with shock by fondling her leg under the table as he took her blood pressure, a tribunal heard today. 

Dr Stiann Basson, 59, sat down beside the woman then reached out and squeezed and tapped the underside of her knee saying: ‘That’s the reason for the short skirt then.’

The patient – thought to be her 20s and said to be ‘unmarried, confident, high powered and attractive’ – was so stunned by the GP’s conduct she could barely move during the consultation at Basson’s surgery at Edmonton, North London which he has run for 30 years.

She later called police but the matter was referred to the General Medical Council.

The incident occurred in July 2016 when South African-born Dr Basson – a grandfather whose wife is director of a children’s hospice – was treating the patient at Keat’s Surgery where he is one of two GPs.

The woman known as Patient A was wearing a dress which was just above the knee but she was wearing no tights due to the hot weather. She told the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service in Manchester Dr Basson had been her GP for two years and she believed he had taken her blood pressure previously without incident.

Patient A said: ‘When I first came in I felt fine. I sat in the chair nearest the wall and he sat in the doctors chair on the other side of the desk.. But then he wheeled his chair around to me next to me, facing me.

‘He was talking about blood pressure and the test he would be doing. At first I felt fine but I did find that he was talking to me and trying to make eye contact a lot.

‘I found this quite off putting but I thought it would be over in a minute.. I have had previous consultations with him and there has never been an issue before. But it was whilst he was talking about blood pressure that he touched my leg.

‘He asked if I was on my way to work and I said yes and he said, “That’s the reason for the short skirt then”. His hand was on my leg for two seconds. I froze. I found this to be very sleazy behaviour.

‘There was no need to comment on the length of my skirt. After this he continued talking about a lot of things to do with my blood pressure that I didn’t understand, I didn’t say anything to him because I was so shocked.

She said: ‘This has never happened to me before. I couldn’t believe it. I was thinking, “Did that’s just happen” I was completely frozen. I just wanted to leave. He was acting very sleazy and inappropriately and I did found his behaviour to be sexual. I feel this was sexually motivated.

‘It didn’t feel friendly or comforting or anything like that, it was sexually motivated and there was another reason why he touched me like that.’

She added: At work I do have to deal with challenging customers and I am used to it and it doesn’t bother me. But I have never been in this kind of situation before. He made me feel uncomfortable commenting on what I was wearing and touching me inappropriately.’

Lawyer for the GMC Chloe Fordham said: ‘She sat down in the chair and he began his consultation but he moved to sit next to her, rather closely.

‘He took her blood pressure and was talking to her about general things. She recalled that he was making a lot of eye contact which made her feel uncomfortable. He asked if she was going to work and she said she was. He reached out and touched the underside of her knee or leg and said ‘that’s the reason for the short skirt then’.

I was thinking, “Did that’s just happen” I was completely frozen.

‘She said she was shocked and froze. He carried on talking consistently to her and she left after that. She arrived at her work and told her colleagues and Human Resources manager and explained what had happened.

‘She works at a high powered role as a manager, managing teams of people and working with some challenging members of the public so she had been in some challenging circumstances, but nothing like this. She is a young, attractive, unmarried woman and I have reason to believe that the touching of her leg was sexual.

‘She incurred contact from Dr Basson whilst he was talking to her about blood pressure and this made her feel uncomfortable. The conversation was personal, not clinical or medical and he commented on her short skirt.

‘The comment he made had nothing to do with positive connotations and it did not aid the situation in any way and he failed to understand the issues with what he said. She is a confident woman and there is no suggestion of hysteria or exaggeration. She didn’t overcompensate. This wasn’t a brush of the leg. This was a squeeze and a tap which lasted for two seconds and she had no agenda.

‘She told the tribunal he acted in a sleazy way and it was sexual and she was disturbed by this. It was not clinical and totally unnecessary. She is a patient and he is a doctor and he should know better. And it’s not just because he was a doctor, if a work colleague did this, she would have felt exactly the same way.’

Basson, from Enfield was interviewed under caution by police on August 12 last year but told police he did not recall the incident and denied the allegation. No criminal action was taken against him.

He was acting very sleazy and inappropriately and I did found his behaviour to be sexual

He admitted misconduct but denied it was sexually motivated. He told the hearing he had been on a Maintaining Professional Boundaries added: ‘When the police told me that my behaviour had made a young woman uncomfortable I felt very bad about it.

‘I must examine up to three women doing intimate examinations per week without a chaperone but I have never had a complaint in 30 years of working as a doctor. I now know that it was not ok to do what I did and whilst I thought my interaction was friendly, I now know how you could misinterpret that.

‘I understand why she felt uncomfortable but I deny that this happened because I was attracted to her and I deny that this was sexual touching. I did not grab her, not with force. Two weeks after the course I wrote a reflection statement outlining that I admit what I did and whilst she said it, she must be right – I realise that I absolutely screwed up.

‘She is not a liar and I accept she would have felt uncomfortable by my actions, I was in a position of power and she was in a vulnerable position. I have apologised for her feeling that way but I wouldn’t use the word grabbing to described what happened.

‘I still to this day lie in bed and try my hardest to remember what happened but I just can’t. I’m not the sort of person to do this but if I did then she must be right.’

His lawyer Andrew Colman said: ‘He understands she was uncomfortable by his actions but that wasn’t his intention, he thought he was being friendly. Now he’s taken that course he can understand and he is deeply ashamed. He has had a surgery for 30 years and he hasn’t ever had a complaint of this nature before. ‘

The panel said Basson’s conduct was sexually motivated but will decide later whether he is fit to practise medicine. 

The hearing continues.