During the 11-day hearing, the Disciplinary Committee heard eight, separate and unrelated complaints against Dr. Hutber, made whilst he was the owner of the veterinary company Epivet Ltd, with practices in Williton and Wiveliscombe, in 2009. The complaints involved a series of allegations including lack of adequate professional care, failure to have regard to animal welfare, failure to make or maintain adequate clinical records (and to provide them on request), and failure to treat clients with courtesy and respect. In the first case, Dr. Hutber was found to have performed surgery on a dog inadequately; failed to provide adequate post-operative pain relief; failed to obtain informed consent for the surgery from the dog's owner; and, failed to keep adequate clinical records of the dog's treatment. In a second case of inadequate professional care, Dr. Hutber failed to ensure a cat's condition was monitored adequately; failed to ensure that the cat received appropriate fluid therapy; and, failed to keep adequate clinical records. Dr. Hutber was found to have brought the profession into disrepute by speaking rudely to one of his clients. On a separate occasion, a different client was found to have been treated without due courtesy or respect when Dr. Hutber told her to come to the practice at once to get tablets and give them to her dog, otherwise the dog would die (of a disease he had diagnosed without carrying out the necessary investigations) - an instruction he then later repeated despite being told the dog was now being treated at a different practice. One other complaint, where charges were proved, involved Dr. Hutber's refusal to provide an animal's clinical records to a former client. The Disciplinary Committee found Dr. Hutber's conduct in respect of the charges proved in relation to each complaint, standing alone and taken collectively, amounted to serious professional misconduct. In reaching its findings, the Committee considered the oral evidence and written statements of 20 witnesses (including Dr. Hutber), two expert witness reports, a large quantity of documentary evidence, Dr. Hutber's extensive rebuttal material and Counsels' submissions. Generally, the Committee preferred the evidence of the College's witnesses to that of Dr. Hutber. Despite the Committee accepting he was of previous good character, it found him to be unhelpful and uncooperative, frequently lapsing into periods of silence that could last minutes, and staring fixedly (and, in the Committee's view, intimidatingly) at witnesses and College Counsel. There were also inconsistencies between his written rebuttal to the College, his witness statement and his oral evidence, about which the Committee found him evasive and illogical. The Committee considered Dr. Hutber had shown no insight into the allegations, or appreciated the significance or impact of his conduct upon his clients and their animals. He had shown no remorse or regret for his actions, and had continued to assert that he had done nothing wrong. Further, he had caused actual injury to an animal by subjecting it to unnecessary revision surgery; displayed an inadequate and incomplete understanding of the concept of informed consent; demonstrated a lamentable lack of concern for animal welfare; brought the profession into disrepute with his treatment of his clients; and, exhibited conduct that fell far short of that to be expected of a member of the veterinary profession. Chairing and speaking on behalf of the Committee, Professor Peter Lees, said: "The Committee has found that there were fundamental failings in the Respondent's clinical competence, and that there were serious defects in his interpersonal skills in relation to clients. He has throughout displayed a tendency to blame others for things which have gone wrong. [The Committee] is not satisfied that there is a realistic prospect of the Respondent having the ability or inclination to remedy his failings [and] remains unconvinced that there is a real possibility of a change in his attitude.

RESPONSE: Dr. Hutber's legal team indicated the RCVS used an approach that was relatively common in 'throwing a lot of charges at a defendant in the hope of making something stick', and no single charge was serious enough to merit sanction. Dr. Hutber was advised that "the only reason the Committee will bring a sanction against you is if they don't like you".
"The RCVS charges were an expected political move," Dr. Hutber commented. "I had pointed out some inappropriate activity within the RCVS organisation and had lobbied for reform, and their response was a natural one to deal with a perceived threat. I imagine the RCVS have become skilful at contrived charges over the years."
"The RCVS knew that the surgical complications occurring with my sacculectomy were only regular, and they knew that I had scheduled investigative surgery at zero costs with my client. The RCVS also knew that a local practice was discouraging my client, and other clients, from returning to my practice. This happened because the new practice manager at the rival practice was the same person who'd recently sold my surgery to me. Although there were RCVS rules concerning [Supersession], the RCVS chose to ignore them on this occasion."
"My staff and I were sworn at, harassed and abused by clients transferring to Whitelodge Vets. Whitelodge had opened up a new practice site about 500 yards along the road from us. A few years previously we had a different practice that was about 8 miles from another Whitelodge site. A thousand clients had transferred from Whitelodge to our practice within 12 months and we'd actively encouraged clients to be respectful towards their former vets. For the RCVS to say that I was being disrespectful to clients, when my staff and I were tolerating abuse and growing the business, indicates how dirty the RCVS was prepared to play."
"The RCVS brought in an expert witness to testify that I hadn't given adequate pain relief post-operatively. The RCVS charge was contrived because the expert witness wasn't present to examine the patient at the time. Two veterinarians who gave evidence, were both involved with the case and had both examined the patient. Both vets gave the same pain relief and neither recorded patient 'distress' in their clinical notes. I was one of those vets and the other vet was Simon White from Whitelodge. The RCVS knew Simon White's level of administered pain relief because he was one of their witnesses. His level of pain relief was the same as mine (in fact slightly less). The RCVS knew that its charge was contrived but it persisted with the charge for political reasons."
"The RCVS stated [above] that I'd failed to monitor a cat's condition adequately and had failed to ensure that the cat received appropriate fluid therapy. The cat in fact received subcutaneous fluids which is a regularly used mode of administration, but more importantly the case was handled by Kris Kaminski, because I'd handled eighteen other cases that day. This case was not one that fell under my remit and this was verified by other witnesses involved with the hearing. I was required to trust the work of my employees and it's not practicable to do otherwise. Each veterinarian is responsible for their own respective cases, so the RCVS charge remains absurd."
"The RCVS public reporting of the hearing has been skilful, amusing and also dishonest. The RCVS skill lie in its manipulation of the material facts. The RCVS has referred to my 'extensive rebuttal material' (180 pages) and yet has concurrently described me as 'unhelpful and uncooperative'. I spent 3 months replying to the original 333 page RCVS document that arrived one day in the post. The RCVS had originally asked for a response within a week. I had given RCVS officers free access to my surgeries and had replied promptly to their correspondence. Perhaps my rebuttal material was at variance with RCVS political objectives, especially where RCVS lawyers were presenting to a RCVS committee, with charges forwarded by a RCVS sub-committee. What I found amusing was the RCVS use of witnesses - the RCVS cited 20 of them (above). Twenty witnesses seems quite a lot, and to be honest, I would also feel inclined to convict someone if there were twenty people speaking out against a defendant. However, when it's pointed out that the RCVS presented sisters, mothers, fathers, friends, and general acquaintances of the few people involved, then it's not onerous to realise that the inflated number of witnesses was a comical spin on reality. However, I find the RCVS dishonesty in its public presentation of the facts less palatable. Taking one example (above), the RCVS stated that Dr. Hutber was 'frequently lapsing into periods of silence that could last minutes'. I had been asked to state where I had stored Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) in the practice three years previously. I explained to the Committee that I was mentally trawling through the building until I could recall where the SOP filing cabinet was located. Similar feats of memorial agility were called upon during a two week hearing. The RCVS Committee knew what I was doing and to misrepresent my actions remains dishonest."
"It also remains incorrect to state that I did not uphold the welfare of animals. This RCVS charge is as contrived as calling me an atheist. It's a novel idea, but repulsive."
"The clinical records issue is simple. When Margaret Weaver sold me her practice she told me that she owned the computers. She didn't because they were hired from NVS (VetCom) for circa 10k GBP per annum. I subsequently changed the computers to a system that I'd used successfully in 2 previous practices. The fact that Margaret Weaver's computer system couldn't export files, wasn't known to me until I tried to give the Milton's twenty years of clincial records for their insurance claim. I sympathised with the Miltons, and provided the RCVS with the technical details of the computer system incompatibilities. [I'd worked for a decade in the Computing industry before I became a vet.] For an unknown reason, the RCVS disregarded these events and contrived a charge that I'd been unprofessional in deliberately not providing clinical records."
"The list of charges (cited above) included an alleged failure to keep adequate clinical records. Clinical records have hisorically included consultation notes, records of drugs administered and drugs dispensed, laboratory tests, correspondence with referral centres, prescriptions, vaccination booster records, consent forms, correspondence with clients, etc. Some practices have traditionally transposed laboratory records, etc. onto consultation notes. This can be helpful in practices where vets share cases or there is a high turnover of staff. Conversely, it can prove unwise where abbreviated transpositions preclude reference to the original documents, since reference to the original documents invariably remains best practise. Reading through copious notes [detailing unqualified diagnoses] can also prove to be time-comsuming for covering colleagues. Hence, voluminous consultation notes do not automatically equate to adequate consultation notes. The RCVS' preoccupation with voluminous consultation notes is considered by some general practitioners to be both counter-productive and unhelpful for the profession. Conversely, concise and accurate notes can be preferred and are frequently used in practice."
"The RCVS Committee was incorrect to state that I had 'displayed an inadequate and incomplete understanding of the concept of informed consent'. According to RCVS guidelines, a veterinarian's understanding is reasonable where it is the same understanding, or a similar understanding, held by other colleagues. Two veterinarians who appeared as witnesses for the RCVS displayed the same and similar understanding in their implementation of informed consent. Paul Gannon of Whitelodge Vets left Mrs. Walker [see charge 5] believing that her dog had experienced a stroke when he euthanized it. Simon White [see charge 2] left Miss Ley unaware of alternatives to proposed treatment. The level of detailed information disseminated to clients remains a matter of professional opinion for any given case, otherwise clients would always be presented with a copious quantity of information, and a mushrooming of the 10 minute consultation would create numerous angry clients waiting in an already busy reception room."
"It's not surprising that a RCVS Committee would have 'preferred the evidence of the RCVS witnesses to that of Dr. Hutber' because RCVS lawyers were calling RCVS witnesses to prove RCVS charges forwarded from a RCVS sub-committee. This evidence pointed towards a lack of impartiality from the RCVS."
"One of the witnesses who appeared at the hearing on my behalf described what he observed as 'an inquisition'. My input was restricted to answering questions from lawyers, rather than a discussion concerning the reality of what had happened. The RCVS lawyer did her best to control proceedings. For a couple of weeks I was required to listen to false statements, with false evidence supporting false charges, so I'm intrigued to hear that the RCVS Committee felt I was 'intimidating' the RCVS lawyer by looking at her. The situation was comically the reverse. Simon White had colluded with Margaret Weaver to steal a practice that had cost me well over half a million pounds, and Kris Kaminski was lying under oath to save his RCVS membership at the expense of mine. The RCVS was unrealistic in its expectations that I might be beaming during an encounter with these individuals."
"The RCVS Committee was incorrect to state that there were 'inconsistencies between my written rebuttal to the RCVS, my witness statement and my oral evidence'. The RCVS was inconsistent in its negative criticisms of my conduct, particularly in relation to the chronology of events because RCVS personnel were not present during the events in question. The RCVS findings showed poor relevance with respect to its cited rationales and similarly a lack of understanding of the material facts involved. These occurrences indicate that the RCVS had acted partially."
"The RCVS Committee was correct in stating that I had shown 'no remorse or regret for my actions, and had continued to assert that I had done nothing wrong'. The RCVS Committee was incorrect in stating that I had 'a tendency to blame others for things which have gone wrong'. The difference between 'mistakes' and 'wrongdoing' lies with intent. I held no intent to do wrong but admitted that I had made mistakes, for example with the textbook complications that I had encountered during the sacculectomy. Morever, during their hearing I sought the advice of the RCVS Committee for future improvements, since I had considered my conduct to have been optimal, but requested their professional advice. Not only did I not receive constructive criticism, but I encountered RCVS partiality to a level of corruption in its handling of the material facts."
"For brevity, the repugnant denigration of my character I shall address elsewhere."