A veterinary surgeon from County Down has been restored to the Register of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons following a hearing of the Disciplinary Committee of the RCVS on 26 February 2009.
Mr Seamus Michael Fegan, of 16 Bridge Road, Warren Point, County Down, had been removed from the Register in March 2003, having been judged unfit to practise owing to criminal convictions.
The convictions were incurred when Mr Fegan was practising in South Armgah: he was charged with 31 counts of conspiracy to defraud the Ministry of Defence. He was convicted of falsely certifying that he had carried out post-mortems on farm animals which it was claimed had died as a direct impact of Ministry helicopters flying over land owned by his clients. Army activity in the area at the time was such that compensation payments were in place. However, the MoD said that during a 12-month period from 1 April 1994, of 20,769 animals that were said to have died by reason of helicopter operations, certificates for 17,000 had been provided by Mr Fegan’s practice. He claimed to have carried out over 9,000 post-mortem examinations during the period, earning fees of around GBP150,000.
Mr Fegan had been required to pay GBP14,000 and was sentenced to 15 months’ imprisonment for each charge, to run concurrently: he served seven months. At the time of the 2003 adjudication, the Committee had heard that Mr Fegan was suffering from alcohol dependency and depression. He had accepted that his actions had brought the profession into serious disrepute and that his professional status had enabled him to be party to the conspiracy to defraud the MoD.
At yesterday’s meeting, the Committee was pleased to hear reports from a consultant psychiatrist that Mr Fegan’s mental and physical state had improved considerably and it was impressed by the high quality of the testimonials provided in support of his restoration.
At a hearing in July 2003, the Veterinary Council of Ireland had, subject to certain undertakings, permitted Mr Fegan’s name to remain on the Irish Veterinary Register enabling him to continue to practise in the Republic of Ireland.
Mr Fegan admitted the seriousness of his offences and stated that he was ashamed of his actions at the time and deeply regretted them. He had now “put his house in order”.
Mrs Alison Bruce, Chairman of the Disciplinary Committee, said: “The Committee is very favourably impressed by the evidence presented in support of this [restoration] application and accepts this evidence in its entirety. It is the unanimous opinion of the Committee that the Registrar should be instructed to restore Mr Fegan’s name to the Register forthwith.”
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