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Reprimand and warning issued to Essex-based vet convicted of harassment

11 September 2018

The Disciplinary Committee hearing for Donald Stuart Bremner MRCVS took place from Wednesday 22nd until Thursday 23rd August 2018, and concerned his conviction on 31st October 2017 at Colchester Magistrates Court for harassment of his ex-wife, as well as perverting the course of justice by sending his daughter an e-mail, pressuring her to ask her mother to withdraw the charges against him.

The Respondent pleaded guilty to both of the charges against him, and stated that he did not understand the conditions of his bail being that he could not contact his ex-wife. In addition to this, he expressed shame and remorse at his actions, and explained that his behaviour was triggered by extreme anger, grief and stress.

In addition to this, he expressed shame and remorse at his actions, and explained that his behaviour was triggered by extreme anger, grief and stress.

In relation to the charges, the Respondent was committed to prison for 12 months, suspended for 12 months, ordered to comply with a Rehabilitation Activity Requirement within 12 months, and ordered to pay £85 in costs and £115 as a surcharge to pay for victim services.

The Committee found the facts proved based on the certified copy of the certificate of conviction, as well as the Respondent’s admissions to the facts of the charges. It was satisfied that the Respondent brought the profession into disrepute by the seriousness of his convictions. In addition, the Committee regarded the Respondent as having deficient insight and a need to fully accept personal responsibility for his actions and their consequences.

The Committee was also satisfied that the nature of the communications sent by the Respondent which led to the convictions and the breach of bail conditions, coupled with deficient insight amounted to serious professional misconduct and rendered him unfit to practise veterinary surgery.

The Committee considered various mitigating factors including the fact that no actual harm occurred to any animal, there were no concerns raised about the respondent’s practice, that he has a long and unblemished career, and that he showed some insight into his offences which continues to develop.

The Committee also took into account that preventing the Respondent from practicing could mean the loss of jobs for 33 or so employees, which weighed heavily on their decision.

The Committee also took into account that preventing the Respondent from practicing could mean the loss of jobs for 33 or so employees, which weighed heavily on their decision. The Committee also agreed with the RCVS’s submissions that there was a very low likelihood of repetition of the offending behaviour. Aggravating factors included the emotional harm caused to the Respondent’s ex-wife, and that the harassment was a course of conduct sustained over a period of five months.

Therefore, when taking into account the particulars of this case, the Committee decided to impose a reprimand and warning on the basis that it would be proportionate to maintain public confidence in the profession in light of the serious nature of these charges. 

Chitra Karve, chairing the Committee and speaking on its behalf, said: “The Committee was of the view that the conviction for intending to interfere with the course of justice was particularly serious, in light of the need to maintain public confidence in the profession, because it involved a disregard of proper criminal process.

“However, a particular feature of this case is the risk to the jobs of 33 or so employees if the Respondent were to be prevented from practising as a result of the Committee’s imposition of a sanction. It is this mitigating factor which weighed most heavily with the committee and they therefore concluded that both a Reprimand as to this conduct and a Warning as to any future conduct is sufficient and proportionate in this case to meet the need to maintain public confidence in the profession and uphold proper standards.”

Mr Bremner has 28 days in which to make an appeal about the Committee’s decision to the Privy Council.

Please note: this news story is to assist with understanding the circumstances of the case and the Committee's decision, it does not form part of the findings or decision. The Committee’s full decision and findings are the only authoritative documentation.

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