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Branson pickle blogger faces misconduct charge

1 December 2009

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A disciplinary hearing has heard details of how a physiotherapist used the internet to expose an alleged “conspiracy” to siphon patients from NHS practices to Virgin Healthcare clinics.

John Spencer, former Head of Therapies for Virgin, made the allegations against Swindon GP Dr Peter Crouch on his “Branson pickle” website, accusing him of being involved in a plot to send patients to Virgin clinics in return for a reputed £250,000.

Mr Spencer also posted letters to the prime minister, the Queen and the Archbishop of Canterbury detailing his concerns over the alleged plot.

Since leaving his job in January 2008, Mr Spencer has made frequent claims of a “conspiracy” and a plan to “break the back” of the NHS.

The Health Professionals Council (HPC) heard how Dr Crouch, who denies the claims, received a phone call from Mr Spencer in 2008 in which he was told that he had 60 confidential documents from Virgin detailing the alleged plot and that he would probably end up in “big trouble” if the details were leaked to the press.

Dr Crouch told the HPC: “I was concerned that people would think there was no smoke without fire and it would shake people’s confidence in my integrity.”

Mr Spencer also claimed on his website that Dr Crouch provided a confidential document to Virgin Healthcare and would give “little resistance” to their plan to allegedly defraud the NHS.

Mr Spencer is accused of making libellous claims against Dr Crouch, damaging his reputation and that of the medical profession, and distributing confidential documents. The HPC case claims that this amounts to misconduct.

Copyright © Press Association 2009

Health Professions Council