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Disciplinary Committee reprimands East Sussex-based vet for failing to declare driving conviction

21 July 2017

The RCVS Disciplinary Committee has reprimanded an East Sussex-based veterinary surgeon for twice failing to declare a conviction for failing to provide the police with a specimen of breath for analysis.

Dr Maria Elena Marin Crespo MRCVS appeared in front of the Disciplinary Committee at its hearing on Monday 17 and Tuesday 18 July 2017 with two charges against her. The first was that, in November 2015, she dishonestly and falsely made an online representation to the College that she had no criminal convictions, cautions or adverse findings despite having been convicted, on 15 January 2015, of failing to provide a specimen of breath. The second charge against her was that, on 31 March 2016, she once again dishonestly and falsely failed to declare her conviction when renewing her registration.

During the hearing the Committee had two main considerations in respect of both charges – as to whether Dr Marin Crespo had been dishonest in failing to declare the conviction and as to whether the respondent ought to have known that her representations were false. Regarding the dishonesty element, the Committee found the College had not sufficiently proven this, as it accepted Dr Marin Crespo’s evidence that she did not believe she needed to declare a motoring-related offence as it was not relevant to her professional practice.

"Every veterinary surgeon must ensure that they adopt a careful and accurate approach to the self-certification exercise, which is crucial if the public and the College are to have trust in that process."

However, the Committee found it proven that the respondent ought to have known that the representations were false, taking into account that Dr Marin Crespo made admissions that she ought to have checked the guidance on declaring convictions, cautions and/or adverse findings and ought to have been aware that making such declarations is a requirement of the RCVS Code of Professional Conduct.

Having found the parts of the two charges relating to false representation proven, the Committee then considered whether this constituted serious professional misconduct.

Judith Webb, chairing the Committee and speaking on its behalf, said: “The Committee considers that the false declarations made by the respondent were born of a careless disregard for the disclosure process. The Committee notes that the respondent could easily have checked online, and/or by telephone, as to what she was obliged to do when making the relevant declarations. She failed to do that.

“In these circumstances, the Committee considers that the respondent’s conduct fell far short of that which is to be expected of the veterinary profession. Therefore, in the judgement of the Committee, on the facts found proved, the respondent is guilty of disgraceful conduct in a professional respect.”

In considering Dr Marin Crespo’s sanction the Committee took into account a number of mitigating factors including her full cooperation with the College’s investigation, her hitherto unblemished career, her testimonial evidence which it felt demonstrated her dedication and professionalism and the fact that she has displayed remorse and insight into her conduct.

Judith Webb concluded: “The Committee notes that the respondent’s conduct caused no harm, or risk of harm, to animals or humans. The Committee also notes that there is no charge arising out of the criminal conviction itself. The Committee considers that, if the respondent had answered the online questions correctly, it is unlikely that the respondent would have appeared before the Committee.

“Every veterinary surgeon must ensure that they adopt a careful and accurate approach to the self-certification exercise, which is crucial if the public and the College are to have trust in that process. In these circumstances, the Committee considered that the proportionate sanction in this case is that the respondent be… reprimanded for her conduct.”

NOTE: This summary is provided to assist in understanding the RCVS Disciplinary Committee’s decision. It does not form part of the reasons for the decision. The Committee’s full findings and decision is the only authoritative document.

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