LONDON, March 1 /PRNewswire/ -- The Disciplinary Committee of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons has this week decided to further postpone its decision on the sanction of a Lincolnshire veterinary surgeon who had appeared before the Committee a year ago, charged with serious professional misconduct.

In October 2006, Joseph Holmes MRCVS, of the Waltham Veterinary Clinic near Grimsby, was found guilty of disgraceful conduct in a professional respect for performing inappropriate and out-of-date veterinary treatment. Judgment was postponed for a period of two years subject conditions that were put in writing and agreed by Mr Holmes. By September 2007, however, because it appeared that Mr Holmes was not complying with these conditions, the hearing was resumed this week (25-6 February 2008) at the DC Chairman's request.

At the hearing, Mr Holmes sought to pursue an appeal against the findings of disgraceful conduct in a professional respect, emphasising that this was "a terrible burden" for him to bear and that his reputation in his local community was suffering as a result. The Committee accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor that they had no jurisdiction to hear such an appeal.

The Committee then considered Mr Holmes' non-compliance with the conditions of the original postponement, stating that deliberate non-compliance would be viewed seriously. However, it felt that this was an exceptional situation and accepted Mr Holmes had intended no disrespect to the Committee or its earlier findings in not complying; rather, it was a device deployed by Mr Holmes (albeit misguidedly) to try to secure an appeal.

After listening to Mr Holmes' account of his compliance with the conditions, the Committee was concerned about the sufficiency of the steps he had taken. He could only provide limited information about the CPD he had undertaken and had not provided sufficient detail of the text books he had acquired. Nevertheless, the Committee was satisfied that these steps marked an adequate beginning to a programme of updating his current veterinary practice and learning, and that he had acquired some insight into the benefits of a suitably tailored programme.

In these circumstances the Committee considered that Mr Holmes should be subject to a further period of compliance extending to 18 months (rather than the two-year maximum allowed) and invited Mr Holmes to propose a further programme and undertakings for that period. The Committee advised Mr Holmes on the particular areas he should consider and postponed the hearing pending Mr Holmes' production of a suitable training programme. The 18-month period would commence once this had been accepted in writing.

Mr Brian Jennings, chairing the Disciplinary Committee, said: "We are anxious that Mr Holmes should understand that whether he remains on the Register is ultimately up to him and it is for him to come up with a programme that will satisfy the Committee that he is an up-to-date and knowledgeable practitioner.

"This is a final postponement. Under the Rules there can be no further postponement in the event of non-compliance and, if this case were to be returned before the Committee in those circumstances, it would then be obliged to impose some other substantive sanction."

Notes For Editors

1. The RCVS is the regulatory body for veterinary surgeons in the UKand deals with issues of professional misconduct, maintaining the register of veterinary surgeons eligible to practise in the UK and assuring standards of veterinary education.

2. RCVS disciplinary powers are exercised through the Preliminary Investigation and Disciplinary Committees, established in accordance with Schedule 2 to the Veterinary Surgeons Act 1966 (the 1966 Act). The RCVS has authority to deal with three types of case:

a) Fraudulent registration

b) Criminal convictions

c) Allegations of disgraceful professional conduct

3. The Disciplinary Committee is a constituted judicial tribunal under the 1966 Act and follows rules of evidence similar to those used in a court of law.

4. The burden of proving an allegation falls upon the RCVS, and the RCVS must prove to the standard that the Committee is sure.

5. Further information, including the original Inquiry into Mr Holmes, can be found via

Further information, including the original Inquiry into Mr Holmes, can be found via or contact Ian Holloway, +44(0)20-7202-0727/