LONDON, May 26, 2011 /PRNewswire/ --
The Disciplinary Committee of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) last week (19 May 2011) dismissed a case against a London-based veterinary surgeon, having found charges related to fraudulent registration not proved.
Miss Maria Becerra Parga was charged with fraudulently entering her name on the Register of Veterinary Surgeons, by submitting a registration application in 2005 that contained a forged certificate of good standing from the Distinguished Official Veterinary Association of Lugo, Spain.
The Committee said that, in order to conclude Miss Becerra Parga had acted dishonestly, it needed to be sure that when she submitted the certificate to the RCVS she knew it was not genuine.
Miss Becerra Parga admitted that she did not make any application for the certificate directly to the Lugo Association. She accepted that the certificate she supplied to the College (the number of which was genuine and corresponded to a male veterinary surgeon registered in Spain) was a forgery, and that it contained a reference to her degree, a statement of good conduct, and was dated before she had a need for it; however, she said, this had been given to her by a friend and veterinary colleague and she had understood that she had been given a temporary membership of the Lugo Association for the purpose of registering with the RCVS. She also said that she had left these arrangements to her colleague and assumed that the document she had been given was genuine.
Her colleague, called as a witness by the College, said that Miss Becerra Parga had admitted the fraud to her and she denied that she had given the certificate to Miss Becerra Parga. Her friend said that she gave no more than general guidance because she knew that Miss Becerra Parga would be guided by a UK company that would arrange for her registration with the RCVS and through which she would be employed. She thought it possible that she had told Ms Becerra Parga that she needed a letter of recommendation, but she was not sure.
After careful consideration, the Committee preferred the evidence of Miss Becerra Parga and found her account to be "consistent with her naivety, inexperience and trusting nature" and "was sure that she did not forge the document herself". It found that to the extent that Miss Becerra Parga read the certificate at all when given it, she obviously did not notice its date or significance. The Committee was not able to say who was responsible for forging the certificate.
The Committee also dismissed an argument RCVS Counsel put forward, that Miss Becerra Parga had neither offered nor made payment for the certificate, and that she had forged the certificate to avoid a payment. The Committee said it did not find it credible that a veterinary surgeon, in work with a supportive family, who obviously was easily able to obtain proof of her good character directly from the university if necessary, would have jeopardised her entire career by forging the document, let alone for a small financial advantage.
The Committee directed that the charges be dismissed.
NOTES FOR EDITORS
1. The RCVS is the regulatory body for veterinary surgeons in the UK and 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. A respondent veterinary surgeon may appeal a Disciplinary Committee decision to the Privy Council within 28 days of the date of the decision. If no appeal is received, the Committee's judgment takes effect after this period.
6. Further information, including the charges against Miss Becerra Parga and the Committee's findings and decision, can be found at http://www.rcvs.org.uk/disciplinary.
For more information please contact:
Claire Millington, Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons +44(0)20-7202- 0783, email@example.com
SOURCE Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons