Dishonestly obtaining council housing leads to pharmacist's 12-month suspension
A pharmacist has been suspended from the Register for 12 months by the fitness-to-practise committee of the General Pharmaceutical Council on account of "blatantly deceptive and dishonest" representations that enabled her to obtain council housing to which she was not entitled.
Shomshad Mufazzil (registration number 2053248) appeared before the committee on 25 July 2012. There were three principal allegations against her:
- She dishonestly failed to disclose to the London Borough of Islington that she was the owner of residential property when she applied to be put on the borough's housing register
- She dishonestly failed to inform the borough of her acquisition of three further residential properties in September 2005, October 2006 and May 2007 while she was on the housing register and under an obligation to inform the borough of any change in her circumstances
- On 27 October 2008, she dishonestly signed a declaration -- "I do not own a freehold or leasehold of this or any other residential property" -- in a tenancy agreement in respect of accommodation granted to her by the borough when, with her husband, she was the owner of four residential properties
Mrs Mufazzil was present at the inquiry and was represented by Graham Southall-Edwards, of the Pharmacists Defence Association.
Nirupar Uddin appeared on behalf of the GPhC.
Giving the committee's decision, the chairman, Patrick Milmo, QC, said: "To obtain the benefit of council housing accommodation by means of false and dishonest representations, which were persisted in for several years, is conduct which is, in our judgement, calculated to bring shame on the profession of pharmacy and is quite unacceptable behaviour."
He said that the case involved consistent lying on a grand scale that amounted to antisocial behaviour inasmuch as it denied others the opportunity to obtain subsidised accommodation when she had ample means to rent or purchase decent housing in the private sector. Without a doubt it was thoroughly reprehensible and discreditable behaviour by a member of a profession charged with a duty of observing high standards of conduct, both within a pharmacy practice and outside in general society.
He ordered Mrs Mufazzil's suspension from the Register for 12 months. The reasons she had not been erased were, first, her competence, ability and unblemished record as a pharmacist. "As regards dishonesty, we believe that she got locked into a cycle of dishonesty in that, having concealed in her original application her ownership of other property, she, it must be said with the complicity and encouragement of others, found herself unable to escape from the dishonest route she had chosen." There was no financial gain, and no patients had come to harm.
"In our view," the chairman continued, "public confidence in the profession will be protected if we impose a long period of suspension. That will also send a message to the profession and to the public that what the registrant has done is wholly unacceptable and warrants a severe response."
He ordered a review of the case before the expiry of the suspension period.
Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal URI: 11110189
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