Doctor who posted controversial Covid videos loses fight to stop Medical Council investigation

A Kiwi doctor being investigated after releasing controversial Covid-19 related videos has lost her fight to halt a Medical Council investigation.

Christchurch doctor Samantha Bailey, who previously presented a TV1 show, was seeking interim relief to stop the investigation until a judicial review could be heard next year.

However Wellington High Court judge Matthew Palmer declined the application on the basis of the balance of convenience and the interests of justice.

The council’s investigative body, the Professional Conduct Committee (PCC), began investigating Bailey last year after receiving 15 complaints about the content she had shared online.

In today’s ruling, the judge noted that although she was not currently practicing as a GP, she regularly posted videos online, including on her YouTube channel, which had more than 300,000 subscribers.

She describes herself as a “medical doctor, author” and a “family Doctor based in New Zealand” it said.

While some of the videos were removed by YouTube for breaching its medical misinformation policy, and some were removed by her, the judge wrote, all were still available on another platform.

“The posts have included statements raising doubts about polymerase chain reaction
testing, and the safety of vaccines, for Covid-19.”

The Pfizer vaccine, which is in use in New Zealand, has been used by millions worldwide and is safe and effective.

Bailey had wanted to stop the council’s investigation until a judicial review she applied for could be heard in February next year.

There, the ruling noted, Bailey will argue that posting videos is not the practice of medicine for which she can be subject to disciplinary action, and that such action would infringe her right to freedom of speech.

“Further, she will argue that if the council’s definition of the practice of medicine is broad enough to capture her online Covid-19 content, it is invalid as beyond the Council’s statutory powers,” the ruling said.

Simon Mount, the council’s lawyer, claimed during the hearing this month that some of her comments included describing the Pfizer vaccine as an “experimental shot” and that lockdowns and face masks were futile.

Mount argued at the time Bailey had not responded to correspondence from the PCC and that it would be hard for her to say her natural justice rights had been breached as the investigation had not concluded.

The lawyer said Bailey was advised of the particulars of the investigation, which included her identifying herself as a doctor, information she “promulgated” to the public about Covid-19 and her adherence to good medical practice.

Mount also noted then that Bailey doesn’t have a current practising certificate and had ceased at least some of her online video posting.

He said no interim report or findings have been made.

Bailey’s lawyer, Rodney Harrison, said then that his client’s videos commented on a wide range of issues, including political Covid-19 management globally.

As well as this, he argued that she was not practising medicine online and she is presenting herself as a doctor in a personal capacity.

The lawyer said there is no evidence of a risk to public health as the last complaint was made in February this year and that the council backed down on its proposal to suspend her from practice.

He claimed that the council did not have the power to regulate free speech.

Palmer wrote that if the court were to stop the disciplinary process through interim orders, it would suspend Bailey’s opportunity to have a reasonable time to respond.

“The disciplinary process should be allowed to proceed, in the interests of justice.”

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