In reply please quote: AN/E1-6XK3V

22 February 2007



Mr Charles Medawar
Social Audit Ltd
PO Box 111
London NW1 8XG

5th Floor, St James's Buildings
79 Oxford Street, Manchester M1 6FQ

Telephone: 0845 357 8001
Facsimile 0845 357 9001

Email: [email protected]


Dear Mr Medawar

Your complaint about Dr Alastair Benbow

Thank you for your letter of the 1 February 2007.

The main statutory objective of the GMC is to protect, promote and maintain the health and safety of the public. One of the ways in which we do this is by maintaining the integrity of the medical register (on which all doctors wishing to practice medicine in the United Kingdom must be included) by ensuring that those doctors on the register are fit to practice and taking appropriate and proportionate action against those whose fitness to practise may be "impaired" (by virtue of misconduct, ill-health, performance, criminal conviction or regulatory determination). Should we continue with your complaint it would almost certainly fall within the misconduct category.

Your complaint appears to relate to statements made by Dr Benbow, in his capacity as head of European clinical psychiatry at GIaxoSmithKline, on two Panorama programmes in relation to the safety (benefit to harm ratio) of paroxetine (seroxat) on depressed adolescents and children. You have helpfully enclosed with your complaint a copy of a review of his and others comments made on the programme(s), which was posted to the Social Audit website following a broadcast of one of the programmes on the 29 January [2007].

In order for the GMC to determine whether Dr Benbow's fitness to practise may be impaired by reason of misconduct we would need to consider the nature of the allegations you are making (taking into account all the circumstances of the case and our guidance in Good Medical Practice) and whether there is tangible evidence to support a finding of misconduct.

Whilst I appreciate that Dr Benbow's comments have caused you concern, at present there is nothing in your complaint in its current form to suggest that his medical abilities are affected as a result of the comments you say he made. Therefore, if you wish the GMC to consider this matter further I should be grateful if you would provide me with further details of the allegations you are seeking to make against Dr Benbow, including specific details of exactly which comments you take issue with, when and in what context they were made, and why you take issue with them. If you have any documentation which would support your complaint, then I would be grateful if you could supply this. It would be of particular help if you could provide me with a videotape or DVD of the programmes in question if you are able to do so.

I look forward to hearing from you by Friday 2 March 2007.

Yours sincerely


Anna Neill
Investigation Manager
Fitness to Practise Directorate
Direct Tel: 0161 9236422
Direct Fax: 0161 9236401