Pictured: Whistleblower surgeon Edwin Jesudason at the High Court on Tuesday
A whistleblower surgeon was portrayed as ‘irrational, vexatious and dishonest’ after he raised the alarm over deaths at Alder Hey children’s hospital, the Court of Appeal heard.
Edwin Jesudason worked at the hospital in Liverpool, Merseyside, where he operated on babies with birth defects and children with rare tumours.
He was forced to resign in 2012 after he criticised his consultant paediatric surgeon colleagues and made allegations of bullying and racism.
Jesudason lost a subsequent employment tribunal and an appeal against its decision and has been in a legal battle with the hospital ever since which has bankrupted him.
The surgeon is now appealing the original tribunal decision in a crowdfunded legal action in the High Court, claiming they misled Parliament by insisting all safety concerns were investigated and were baseless.
His barrister Andrew Allen said the employment tribunal had ignored evidence and came to the wrong conclusion.
Mr Allen said: ‘Starting with general comments about whistleblowers, the claimant’s alleged status is as a campaigner rather than his status as a whistleblower, as heard in the employment tribunal hearing.
Mr Jesudason (pictured) worked at the hospital in Liverpool, Merseyside, where he operated on babies with birth defects and children with rare tumours
He was forced to resign in 2012 after he criticised his consultant paediatric surgeon colleagues and made allegations of bullying and racism (Pictured: Alder Hey Hospital)
‘The claimant was very unhappy about this status which arose in the tribunal’s reasoning.
‘There is no right to be portrayed as irrational, vexatious and dishonest, as you may hear all of those things.
‘That approach is indicative of the way the respondent has approached the history of this case up to the appeal, which is to pour scorn on the appellant rather than addressing whether detrimental actions existed, and whether the reason was because he made protected disclosures.
‘Whistleblowers are not saints nor are they required to be by statutory tests,’ continued Mr Allen.
‘Whistleblowers can sometimes be mistaken by some or all of the matters they raise, they need only have a reasonable belief in the matters they raise.
‘Sometimes whistleblowers might do something wrong themselves, none of that takes away from the status they have, none of that prevents a whistleblower, who is a thorn in the side of an organisation, who may have made mistakes himself, from the protections of Section 47B of The Employment Rights Act.’
A letter to Mr Jesudason from the then chair of the Care Quality Commission, Lord Prior, dated 31 January 2014, was read to the court.
It stated: ‘On a personal note I much enjoyed meeting you and was obviously impressed by your intention to provide safe, quality care at Alder Hey.’
Pictured: The Duchess of Cambridge speaks to Megan Squire, 12, on the oncology ward as she visits Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in February 2012
Mr Jesudason claims the hospital tried to ‘deflect from the concerns and discredit me by claiming falsely that all concerns were investigated and baseless.’
Ahead of his resignation in 2012, the surgeon had expressed concerns about the standards of care he said he had witnessed while working at Liverpool’s Alder Hey Hospital, one of most famous children’s hospitals in Britain.
The award-winning paediatric surgeon said authorities turned a blind eye after he and a colleague called for a review of ‘unnecessary’ fatalities among children who had undergone surgery at the hospital.
The alleged culture of cover-ups at Alder Hey was such that the hospital fought for two years to suppress an internal report revealing that nurses and theatre staff were so stressed they fainted in theatre.
The report revealed that bullying was rife, shouting and swearing were commonplace, and warned that if something wasn’t done, a member of staff would soon ‘snap and attack someone’.
In 2013, Mr Jesudason told the story of what happened at Alder Hey when he and a colleague, who cannot be named for legal reasons, called for an investigation of surgery practices after two babies died and others were ‘seriously injured’ after treatment.
He claimed one baby underwent surgery and died in 2007 despite a specialist surgeon having allegedly warned that the procedure would be dangerous. He claimed another died after suffering an injury at the hands of a ‘stressed’ surgeon, and that other accidents and injuries were not reported properly.
The hearing continues.