Nazim Ali Case: Judge Says ‘Try Again’…..

This blog is co-authored with David Collier

The Judgment in the Nazim Ali Appeal case has been handed down (see here for context).

We were the two witnesses in the case. We very much welcome Mr Justice Johnson’s decision that the case be referred back to the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) for reconsideration by its Fitness to Practice Committee (FPC).

The Judgment reveals that the GPhC agrees that the FPC ‘erred in its approach’.

The Judgment is about as critical of the FPC as it gets, give the veiled legal language:

The FPC did take account of his speech as a whole (and, in particular, the fact that he had said that Zionists were not to be conflated with Jews). It did not, however, separately take into account the cumulative effect of the four remarks that were here under consideration. They included remarks that use the word “Zionist” in a context that does not appear to have anything to do with the state of Israel (and so in a context where the word does not make a great deal of sense if it is taken literally). That is relevant when assessing whether the Council had made out its allegation that the remarks, taken as a whole, were antisemitic.

I am, in principle, sympathetic to the suggestion that, if it could be shown that the ultimate sanction would not be different if the case were remitted back to the FPC I should, instead, simply dismiss the appeal.

But he DIDN’T dismiss the appeal … Implying that he thinks that the ‘ultimate sanction’ should be more severe than the mere ‘warning’ which Ali received!

This case does, however, engage significant questions of public confidence. It is vitally important that all sections of the community are able to place trust and confidence in pharmacists. As Ms Morris QC observed, that is vividly illustrated by the current pandemic, and the need that all communities are able to have confidence in advice given by pharmacists and other professionals about the risks and benefits of vaccination. Public confidence is an important consideration when considering sanction.