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EXCLUSIVE: Outrage at Jason Leitch’s key role in Eljamel investigation

Patients were told Scotland’s under-fire national clinical director will play a central role in starting a sweeping review of all victims' cases.

National clinical director Jason Leitch. Jane Barlow/PA Wire
National clinical director Jason Leitch. Jane Barlow/PA Wire

A leading Eljamel campaigner says under-fire Professor Jason Leitch must stand down from overseeing an investigation into the cases of patients butchered by the rogue doctor.

SNP health chief Michael Matheson told Jules Rose, a patient of the disgraced former NHS Tayside surgeon, that Prof Leitch would play a key role in starting a sweeping review of all victims’ cases.

The national clinical director came under pressure to quit after his evidence was aired at the UK Covid inquiry in Edinburgh on Tuesday.

Texts between Prof Leitch and Humza Yousaf show him advising the then health secretary how to remain “exempt” from pandemic mask rules at a dinner.

Ms Rose says she was told by Mr Matheson that Prof Leitch would be the top figurehead facilitating the review into the cases of every victim who has come forward.

Eljamel campaigner Jules Rose. Image: Mhairi Edwards/DC Thomson

The meeting took place on September 7 last year, just hours before First Minister Mr Yousaf ordered a public inquiry into the scandal.

Formally announcing the landmark inquiry, Mr Matheson said it was important a one-to-one review was also held for patients with questions about their individual cases.

It’s understood Mr Matheson said Professor Craig White, the government’s associate director for health, would be tasked with setting up the review along with Prof Leitch.

The two health officials are currently hunting for an independent figure to chair the one-to-one reviews.

SNP health secretary Michael Matheson. Image: Fraser Bremner/PA.

It is expected that this investigation will run concurrently with the wider independent probe into the scandal.

But following the Covid inquiry revelations, Ms Rose insisted Prof Leitch should not be given a key role in any investigation surrounding Eljamel.

The Kinross mum told us: “Appointing Mr Leitch to oversee the long-awaited clinical one-to-one reviews would only continue the government’s legacy of secrecy, and their inability to understand the word transparency.

“On behalf of all butchered patients, this is not a professor that we welcome to instil trust in these pending clinical reviews.

“Based on the revelations today it further evidences the lack of transparency surrounding Jason Leitch’s conduct during Covid.

“How on earth can a person of this calibre be trusted to oversee clinical reviews of 165 badly butchered patients?”

Scottish Labour says the SNP should sack Prof Leitch if they agree his behaviour during the Covid pandemic was inappropriate.

Dundee Labour MSP Michael Marra. Image: DC Thomson.

Dundee-based party MSP Michael Marra said: “The evidence presented to the UK Covid inquiry in recent days has uncovered an entirely inappropriate relationship between the civil service and the Scottish Government.

“The loss of faith among Eljamel’s victims in the impartiality of senior civil servants is understandable and deeply regrettable.

“The process of justice must command the confidence of the victims and, as such, Jason Leitch’s involvement is untenable – compromised by his own conduct in office.”

While being questioned, the national clinical director denied he was trying to give Mr Yousaf a “workaround” to avoid Covid rules.

Disgraced doctor Sam Eljamel.
Disgraced Dundee doctor Sam Eljamel. Image: DC Thomson.

Last week we revealed how campaigners are “furious” at the first minister after he refused to say the public inquiry will definitely begin this year.

Mr Yousaf promised “progress” for Eljamel’s victims in 2024, but so far has been vague about an exact timetable on what happens next.

The Scottish Government has been approaching candidates to find someone to chair the inquiry.

A government spokesperson said: “Planning for the independent clinical review of individual cases, for those former patients of Mr Eljamel who would like to participate, is now well underway.

“This will be chaired by a person who is independent of both the Scottish Government and NHS Tayside.

“Further details will be shared publicly as soon as possible and, as with the announcement of the public inquiry, we will ensure that former patients are informed directly wherever possible.”

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